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Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group April 2017 Newsletter

Modern Quilt header april 2017 modern sampler by Helen Butcher and Helen Howes
MOD-Q has been on the road this month, appearing at the Guild AGM - Torquay (Region 4) as well as The British Quilt and Stitch Village - Uttoxeter (Region 11). and at The Doughty's Road Show - Mundford (Region 9). Reports from each event are included below.

A word (or two) from the Editor

THE COLOUR YELLOW: My Mother recently had her cataracts 'done' as they say, and was shocked to realise how far her colour vision had deteriorated before the op. A frightening thought for an artist, but she hadn't noticed the gradual decline. Now, suddenly, everything is crisp and fresh again, sadly including the cobwebs, she says. Colour plays such an important part in quilting, and our choice of colours and combinations of colours is as individual as we are.

Watching young children choose colours is interesting since they have no preconceived ideas or associations. These liberated choices, often unusual, can be fun to work with. However, working to someone else's colour choice is not always easy, as anyone who has done quilt commissions will tell you. So is it best to just stick to what you know? Well, that is entirely your choice, but it does do you good to push the boundaries occasionally. Our colour choices naturally develop and change over the years, just as we ourselves do, as a results of external influences and experiences.

Thoughout our lives particular combinations of colour may provoke memories or associations. April always seems to me to be a very yellow month both in nature and artifice. Starting with the hundreds of shades of daffodils, plus dandelions, gorse flowers, ducklings, oil seed rape in the fields and tiny snails in the grass. Perhaps that is why I have been working on a yellow project this month. I fear Yellow is a much maligned colour in patchwork. True, it can dominate in large areas, but in small quantities it can give a design a real boost. I am so pleased to see it appears so much in Modern Quilting; from the bright clear yellow of a rainbow design to the deep mustard shades of the sophisticated modern palette.

Looking at my own fabric stash recently I find I have a overly large collection of aqua blues, obviously a colour I can't resist subconsciously buying. Time for a blue project and a good de-stash in this area, but it will still have to have a little bit of yellow in it, somewhere.

Anything you want to share with the MOD-Q group? Contact me on

Helen's Ramblings

Hello again..

Seems that Spring has finally arrived, and I have been doing a whole lot of driving, mostly on rather unlively motorways, to and from for Modern.. I was at the AGM, (see below) in Torquay, and HB and I went to Thetford on Saturday (see HB's report below also..) to the Doughty's roadshow (and we bought a lot of batting, and just a little fabric…) Festival of Quilts is looming nicely - have you sent in your form? Made your quilt(s)? put on sleeves and labels? The Modern category was a stonking success last year, let's make it even better this time… I will do a little tutorial on packing and sending quilts for the website soon, and one on bindings and sleeves; and I'm just about to put the Cot Quilt online (we have given out 2000 postcards with this one's pattern on) and the Quartered Moons which we made for Festival last year.. This year, of course, we have a Proper Exhibit as well as a presence on the Guild stand! Still time to get work into that, too, see Kate's piece.. And, helpers, please.. Contact Kate directly to go on the rota.

As I write this, we are setting up for a session of our Modern Quilt Sampler class - these have been a big success.. And you might consider taking some of the Tutor Box ideas and making your own sampler.. Please send pictures for the website! HH

Contact me on uk

And here's a little treat! Click on the photos below for free patterns

chicken tutorial
broken moons
shimmer cot quilt

tk block mix
Blocks for SUPERSTAR DJ Challenge

The Cottonopolis Challenges and our Festival of Quilts Gallery

by Kate Percival
Hello everyone, Kate here, firstly a great big THANK YOU to everyone who has thus far taken part in the gallery for the Festival in August. I have enough 'singles' to put together at least two small quilts, the 12" pieces and the 24" Phase One are coming in, along with the blocks for Thomas Knauer. I have a lovely mound of stars to put together to make a quilt to raffle for the Young Quilters. The M is for Modern blocks are perfect, we will have some eye catching new banners for the show. Brilliant work, pat yourselves on the back!

BUT...I need to have a VERY STERN word with all of you.

Every single thing that has been sent to me is, hand on heart, fabulous.

Almost every single thing that has been sent to me has been accompanied or preceded by some form of apology, a note saying that I can reject it if it is 'not up to standard', that it is 'the first thing like this I have done', that it is 'not very good'.

Right, we need to get a grip.

You are talented, skilled, adventurous quilters. You produce wonderful things, I know this as I have a big pile of them sitting in bags upstairs ready for their moment of glory. You are absolutely NOT incapable/unworthy of doing the challenges. None of you. Entries have made me gasp, loudly, as I have unwrapped them, they are so great.

I know that many more of you would be sending me entries if you had the courage and confidence.

In phase one of the Juke Box I sent out over eighty, yes, 80 'records' and 22 came back in. 22 does not a full gallery make, it makes a nice little gallery, but not a big, exciting, bursting with life gallery... come on, I know you can do it, don't be shy, don't be nervous, GO FOR IT. I will be sending out about another forty in Phase 2, as long as I get entries in by the final deadline for Phase 2 I will be happy. Take that leap into the dark...make me an entry!

Likewise the 12" challenge, I have given out over 150 sets of squares since last August, 15 have come back. All of them are smashing, even though most of the makers assured me they were 'not very good'. Please, please, cast aside your self doubt- we are ALL making up Modern Quilting as we go. We are ALL learning 'how to' as we chug along, be brave. be part of this.

Do not for one minute think that Festival of Quilts is just for those 'professional' quilters to show at, it is not. Quilters want to see what other hobby quilters do, want to see ideas, want to see things that they could have a go at, things they could achieve as well as be inspired by the top flight craftspersons. Don't be intimidated , I am not a member of the Quilt Police and never will be, I want this to be a celebration of what we can achieve together, of what every day quilters can make, to be joyous, celebratory and above all, OURS. So, set aside your nerves, your worry, your fears, you can email me if you have questions/doubts/ want new titles to work to/ have a late night panic.

Let us celebrate this new wave of quilting, let us find our way together- think back to last year, the first Modern entries, the largest submission within a 'new' category ever. Grab hold of that excitement, the challenges are small pieces, perfect for experiment, exploration and leaving your comfort zone- to make a large Modern Quilt for your first attempt at a Modern Style project would be daunting, but a small 12" or 24" block? Go for it!

And that brings me on to the blocks for Thomas Knauer. His quilt frame can take up to 64 10.5" squares i.e 8 rows of 8 10" finished size, that would be an amazing quilt ... 80" x 80"...all the blocks thus far are superb, again, all reached me via apologies at some stage of their making...get stuck in, send me stuff. You are all fabulous, never forget it.

This show will be what YOU make it, and yes, I mean every single one of you, even those of you hiding behind the sofa, we have over 250 members who get this newsletter.

Jump in, the water is lovely, we are all working out exactly how to swim, the fun starts when we do it together!


PS: the perfect tv programme to watch to get you going on your Thomas block is The Joy of the Single, currently available on iplayer. A must see!

Email Kate on

Modern Sampler Quilt Black

QUILT STORIES: Headline News

Modern Sampler Quilt
by Helen Butcher

This quilt was designed in collaboration with my friend, Helen Howes, as an antidote to the traditional sampler quilt which we found rather staid. Helen and I have very different patchwork styles and this is reflected in this quilt which combines blocks designed by Helen displaying her love of 'improv' piecing with my designs depicting graphic or 3-D images including my favourite foundation piecing. The other blocks have more traditional roots, but incorporate skills or techniques we thought it important for students to master.

The whole quilt is based on a modular grid system with each block designed to fit into a single square or multiple squares on the same grid. This made it simple for every student to create their own individual design by arranging the finished blocks their way.

Helen and I have had great fun teaching this quilt in classes of absolute-beginners-to-patchwork, and it has been most rewarding to see our students' skills develop over the weeks of the course. It is very interesting watching individual students find an aptitude for a certain technique, whether it be ‘improv’ or accuracy, and suddenly discover the urge to do more.

I recently had a rush of blood to the head and decided to make a miniature version for this year's Festival of Quilts. I enjoyed the challenge, and managed to reduce the entire quilt down to 11 inches square. This way madness lies!



TORQUAY: Quilters' Guild AGM

by Helen Howes
This was my third time at the Quilters' Guild AGM as the Co-ordinator of Modern, and it was interesting to see the changes - this time all of the Specialist groups were thanked (and acknowledged) from the satge during the AGM proper, and we had lots of space.. Sadly, and as usual, we didn't have a lot of light, and it was hard to demo, but I did have a lot of good conversations about the Modern take on Education, and on spreading the word outwith the Guild about quilting..

Torquay was fabulous - sunny, (apart from the two minutes when Kate Percival and I got soaked going back to the hotel, just across the road), palm trees, nice doggies..

The hotel was pure Fawlty Towers, complete with 2am fire alarms and tall, dark, mad restaurant manager, but it did have a super pool. And the breakfasts were very good.

I've been going to AGMs since 2003, have been to most. The actual "business" side is pretty much not to my taste, but the chance to spend time with a whole bunch of people who don't have to have The Guild explained is good…

Next year, we are in Newcastle (Upon Tyne, folks, not the other ones) - I hope to see you there..


UTTOXETER: The Mods Go Racing!

by Ros Peedle
The Modern Quilt Group (MQG) attracted the interest of the visitors at the Quilt & Stitch Village at Uttoxeter in April. We were housed in the Staffordshire Stand overlooking the Racecourse and, on Race Days, we would have had an excellent view as the horses raced past. However, during the Show, there was no racing and we were far too busy to be looking out of the window!

We handed out over 200 cards, offering the recipients details of the MQG and a free pattern to make a quilt in the Modern style. The stand housed examples of miniature modern quilts, a simple pin cushion in the modern style, a number of larger quilts and examples of different types of zip insertion. There was a surprising amount on interest in this and demonstrations were held throughout the Show. The MQG Banner was proudly displayed behind our table and that and Helen's 'chicken cushion' raised a lot of interest.

I have manned the stand on my own for the past two years. It is good to be able to represent the MQG in this way but, next year, I hope that someone will be able to join me for what is a great Show.

doughtys 3
The Doughty's team are nearly finished unpacking
doughtys 1
Making the most of our sunny corner

doughtys 4
A little bit of heaven: a hall full of fabric!

MUNDFORD: A Grand Day Out

by Helen Butcher
On a gloriously sunny Spring day at the end of April (yesterday in fact) MOD-Q went to join in the fun at the Doughty's Road Show which came to Mundford, Norfolk for a visit. We enjoyed ourselves immensely - we always do - demonstrating modern, improv quilt blocks on a vintage Singer hand-crank sewing machine, giving away free patterns and making friends.

In addition to Doughty's huge selection of fabrics and wadding at incredibly reasonable prices, there were several other traders with interesting wares, a splendid raffle, and superb refreshments with cakes provided by Norfolk Quilters. What is it about quilters and cake? It seems you can't have one without the other - quite right, too!

If you haven't visited one of Doughty's Road Shows before, I would thoroughly reccommend it. In addition to trading at major stitching events the Doughty's team travel all over the country with their pop-up shop. CLICK HERE for this year's list of venues. I can't guarantee that MOD-Q will be there, but the chances are, there will be cake!

FOQ winner 2016


Entries for the 2017 Festival of Quilts need to be declared by the beginning of June, but you don't need to finish your quilt until mid-July. CLICK HERE for detail of how to enter.
Above is the winner of last year's Modern Quilt Category - Office Doodle 1 by Sarah Humphries