Visiting the Annual Show of the Dutch Quilters’ Guild

Every year, the Dutch Quilters’ Guild (Quiltersgilde) holds an annual show. The location varies, as the show is held in a different place in the country each year, so that who is close and who has to travel for a few hours to get there also varies. There is a theme each year, and also a general section. Entries are theoretically limited to a maximum of two quilts per guild member, but usually there are about 220 quilts in the show (there are 13,000 Guild members). As well as the show, there is also a small vendors section where one can buy quilt goodies, which always does a roaring trade.

This year the show was held in the massive Church of Our Lady in the city of Breda. The church dates from the 15th century, and is right in the middle of the historic town centre. It was a great location for the show: lots of room (the church is huge) and very nice light. It did mean that is was sometimes tricky to get in a good position to photograph quilts, because of steps and pillars and alcoves! It was fairly cool, and as we were in the middle of a heat wave last week, with temperatures around 37°C or 99F, that was a plus! 

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The tower of the Church of Our Lady in Breda, in the winter. Photo © Michiel Verbeek

Anyway, I spent a happy couple of hours looking about: the quilts vary from traditional to art quilts, in all shapes and sizes. Some are made by relative beginners, others by experienced professional quilters: it demonstrates the breadth of the membership of the Guild very well. The Dutch Guild is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) in terms of membership numbers in the whole of Europe: it has nearly twice as many members as the British Guild, and also more members than the French Guild, although each of those countries has almost three times the population of The Netherlands. I’m not sure what that means: probably that as well as quilting we like joining clubs and guilds! I always find quilt shows inspiring, and this was no exception. I also bought a super pattern for a pincushion in the form of an owl, who you will see on these pages soon! (Pun intended).

So here are some of the quilts that caught my eye:

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1,2,3,4 x 3 en 3 by Ineke Duursma

The theme this year was ‘3and3’ as the Guild is celebrating its 33rd anniversary, so there were a lot of quilts, like the one above, that were plays on the title: with 33 blocks, or 33 cm broad and that sort of thing. This had 33 flying geese in nice blues and greens against a black background.

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Sterren uit de Provence by Marjo Bonnier-Wolthuis

This quilt was stitched entirely by hand and used a complimentary colour scheme of burnt orange and dark blue. The orange and yellow fabrics were from Provence and were fussy cut to give the secondary designs in the stars.

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3-3 en voor Riet by Stien Flipse

This quilt combined fabulous feathered stars with appliqué and super quilting. It was made in memory of a good friend of the quilter’s, Riet.

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Ik zie sterren by Riet Radstake

There were lots of star quilts, actually, including this impressive quilt, made entirely from batiks.

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Draaien, draaien by Ans Kouwe-Ickenroth

There were also quite a few quilts with a distinctly Dutch flavour, such as this impressive king-size winding ways quilt, that was made entirely from traditional Dutch chintz fabrics. The cotton chintzes are still printed in the traditional manner (with rollers) in a factory in the north of the Netherlands, and the designs all date from the 17th and 18th centuries. I saw several fabrics that I have (or have used) in the top. I always enjoy spotting fabrics from my own stash or quilts in other peoples quilts, it’s like seeing an old friend and one shares a little moment of ‘I-couldn’t-resist-that-either’ with the absent quilt-maker.

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Japanse quilt by Annie Eggink-Steenhoek

There were fabrics I recognised in this quilt of Japanese fabrics too, which I had also used in a blue and red Japanese style top. You can see a photo of my top (its called Harmony Flower) in my quilt and patchwork gallery here on the blog. Quilting it is one of this winter’s projects!

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A close-up of Annie Eggink-Steenhoek’s quilt

The fun thing is that I know exactly which shop we both got the fabrics from, as they were specially imported by a shop in Brielle in South Holland about 17 years ago….

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Zonsopkomst boven Callantsoog by Nellie van der Poel-Zutt

This impressive art quilt is also very Dutch: it shows the sunrise above the sea in Callantsoog, a little village on the coast of North Holland. I thought the colours and textures were wonderful, and I particularly liked the geese; they are one of the most common birds here in the Netherlands and their skeins across the sky are always so beautiful.

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Midwinter Hoornblazers by Nelleke Kooij

Another very Dutch scene this, but from the countryside far inland, near the border with Germany, captured in raw-edged appliqué: Mid-winter horn blowers. Mid-winter horns have been blown around the winter solstice in late December since before the Middle Ages. The horns are long and heavy, and made of wood, and only men may blow them. They give a low, slightly mournful tone, that carries a long way through the woods and across the frozen snowy landscape. The sort of sound that gives one goose-bumps. Every year there are mid-winter horn walks in the forests, where one comes across the horn blowers at intervals on the walk. The walks always end in a barn or castle with hot chocolate and soup!

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Kamelenmarkt in Pushkar by Gonda Vreeburg

More appliqué, but referencing a warmer climate! The camel market in Pushkar is the subject of this small quilt.

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Groeinde stad versus slinkende natuur by Femke de Groot-van der Heide

There was a huge variety of appliqué this year, including this dimensional work that reflects on the growing cities at the cost of disappearing nature.

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The mystery of Mr. Morris by Annette Aardema-Lenstra

This one was an interpretation of the work of 19th century English Arts and Crafts designer William Morris. 

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Berries and bluebirds by Rineke Iemenschot

I thought this country folk-style quilt was very sweet, appliqué and quilting were done by hand.

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Love letters by Marian Cuperus

This traditional style appliqué quilt, all sewn by hand, was also very appealing, with its soft colours and 19th century vibe.

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Enjoy by Rita Dijkstra-Hesselink

But this caught my eye too: the colours were more vibrant than the photo shows, and the background was made of Oakshott shot cottons. It was Rita’s own design, inspired by the work of the Norwegian textile artists Inger Johanne Rasmussen, who works with felt.

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Lapjeskatten by Niesje Hoek

But the patchers were also well represented, including this huge quilt (250 x 200 cm 98″ x 78″) of patchwork cats in many colours: the last in a series of quilts that Niesje has made, one for each of her grandchildren. 

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Apestaartje by Quiltgroup Breda

The local branch of the Guild had also made a group-quilt for the occasion, this monkey wrench (or snail’s trail, if you prefer) in dozens of warm browns with touches of green.

There are no ‘prizes’ awarded at the show, except the Visitors’ Choice Prize: you can vote for the quilt you think is best in show, and it gets featured in the following issue of the Guild Magazine (which is a really super glossy, four times a year). Usually I find the decision fairly tricky, but not this year.

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Civil War Bride Quilt by Maudy van den Elshout

There was a wonderful Civil War Bride quilt on display: hand appliquéd and machine quilted, the colour and fabric choices and all the workmanship was superb. (Sorry the photo isn’t very good, it was difficult to find a second when there wasn’t someone staring at it). To make it even more impressive, Maudy has scaled it down from the original pattern: it is 20% smaller (145 x 155 cm 57″ x 61″) which means that all those tiny appliqué details are even smaller than you might imagine. It got my vote!

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Detail of Maudy van den Elshout’s quilt

I hope this short walk-through gives a flavour of the show, although of course it is just the tip of the iceberg of the quilts that were there, and a very personal choice. I am looking forward to next year’s show already, and who knows, one of my quilts might be hanging there too.

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