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Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group April 2018 Newsletter

header april 2018
A big Mod-Q Group welcome to our new co-ordinator, Collette Howie

A word (or two) from the Editor

Enjoy the Journey I was interested to read Stuart Hilliard's regular column in Popular Patchwork this month where he answers a question from a reader with limited time to quilt (sound familiar?) on how she can speed up the process! Stuart made several suggestions, some involving quite expensive equipment, but his last paragraph was the important one. He talked with feeling about enjoying the process and taking time over things, a sentiment with which I thoroughly agree. Yes, time is precious and occasionally we need to make a 'quick quilt' (my heart sinks when I read that phrase) however anything worthwhile is worth spending time over.  Most of us who are seriously addicted to quilting, whether hobbyists or professionals (yes, you will find most professionals are addicts too - it isn't just a job, it's a vocation!) will make more quilts in our lifetime than we ever need. There are only so many beds within our reach. So what's the rush? Limited time to quilt, to me, just means that things will take a little longer to finish. course there is a place in the quilting world for simple quilts and with the Modern ethos of LOVE IT, USE IT, WASH IT things still have to be made to a good standard.

The book I have been reading this week (see book review) also talks at various points about  the love of process and taking your time. One of the phrases that really caught my attention was 'just because it's improv doesn't mean it's slap-dash' and goes on to expound on the subject of modern quilts, even if they look simple they have often been meticulously planned and constructed.  This is something that the uninformed viewer may not appreciate - if the lines lines aren't straight or the points are cut off, that is because I decided to make them that way. It is not a mistake, or badly constructed, it is a choice. Step back and look at the overall design rather than focusing one tiny part. Equally if straight lines and sharp points are important to you (as they are to me) it is worth spending time making them so, and that means practice. This is not a race and there are no prizes for finishing first; just enjoy the journey!  AitchBee

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

Helen's Last Ramblings

Well, I would like to thank all of you who have supported and joined and enjoyed the Modern Group under my care and (slightly erratic) control. I've had fun, and worked rather hard, and I'm sure all will continue in Collette's tender care (see below for an introduction from her). My Summary of the first four years is also below. I hope that all of you will Keep On Sewing, it's the Very Best Thing.

Blessings, Love, and Light

Helen Howes

Summary - What We Did on Our Hobby-days

When Heather and I turned up at Festival of Quilts in August 2014, we had absolutely no idea whether anyone would be interested in joining our new Group within the Guild. I had a terrific response from a small mention in The Quilter, but... Until the Thursday morning, when I walked across the Guild stand and handed our two subs to the membership table, there were no official members. The rota for the stand was, Me and Heather. The 5000 leaflets and the Greetings quilt we had made, and the hand-crank sewing machine, and the table full of yes-you-can-touch-these quilts were a fantastic success. We had a tiny space, which never emptied for a moment during all four days. There were highlights - after a good many people joining the group, and some joining the Guild in order to join the Group, someone re-joined in order to be a member. We bounced and squeaked! And, much to the horror of some of the more precious onlookers, I had a happy half-hour explaining my Tiger quilt to Thomas Knauer, in the middle of the stand, with the quilt on the floor..

Some of the things I feel I have done well

To outreach beyond the membership (the newsletter list is well over 1000 and the postcards have reached so many people) this has had a good start and will continue.

To make a more generous and accessible (and up-to-date) educational response - with Tutor Boxes, patterns on postcards, free online resources, pattern packs for members, examples, demonstrations, tutorials, and projects - these will be a continuing resource, and I plan to carry on making these things - it's most important for me to sew, and I want everyone who wants to stitch to have good information. Not everyone wants a City and Guilds course, almost everyone likes to make a good project that is easy and fun...

To open up the competitions at FOQ - I spent the winter of 2015/2016 arguing (as I thought, fruitlessly) with Upper Street Events about adding a Modern category to the competitions. After spending a lot of energy and having been turned down many times, when the competition schedule came out, there it was. And the first year's entries (78 quilts) were stunning. More last year, I expect there will be even more this time.. Enter! It's fun! You get to see people admire your work and without the quilts, of course, there's no show... The winners in both years were inspiring and all the quilts were great...

To have an open newsletter, which is only possible because it is virtual. The cost of paper newsletters is crippling for the Specialist groups and the sheer labour of publishing, printing, envelope-stuffing and posting is frightful. Most SG newsletters are quarterly. Our monthly newsletter has been relatively easy (not least because HB has been so good at poking me to provide content). It means we don't have to search for advertisers and can be pretty immediate. If you have an exhibition, an event, or a workshop, we can list it here and are happy to do so for any quilt or textile-related jolly...

There's much more. I've sat behind a lot of tables explaining Modern quilts, demoing blocks, engaging with non-quilters, playing with my handcrank machines, and rolling home after 3 or 4 days wrung dry. I've sat up a lot of nights writing.

What have I done particularly badly?

I suffer fools not at all. I'm rubbish at paperwork, constantly in trouble for late expenses claims, and I won't be sad not to have to do that any more. I dislike narrow-mindedness and I'm inclined to be blunt, but I do try not to make insulting remarks unless they are absolutely called-for. There are some things which the other Groups do which I have ignored - I dislike big rotas and tend to run stands with a small-but-efficient staff. I really didn't want a Suitcase Collection, so I've avoided the subject. I'm a serious deadline queen, so lots of things got done at the last minute. I don't plan to change this last...

Now, I need a rest. I have said, firmly, that I won't be volunteering for anything more exotic than a raffle prize for a few years. Mind you, I have promised patterns to a couple of Groups, and there's the Young Quilters stuff, and so on.. Oh, damn.

Most of all, sitting on stands talking and sewing and laughing, we have had a deal of fun...

Having Fun
Having fun on the Cottonopolis Stand, FOQ 2017

Thanks for reading, playing, sewing, and eating chocolate...

Contact me on uk

Welcome to New Co-ordinator: COLLETTE HOWIE

Hi! My name is Collette and I am your new co-ordinator for the Modern Group (a Specialist group of the Quilters Guild).

I am really excited about this new opportunity to work with such a progressive and forward thinking group of members. Helen and her team have lead the way and now I get a chance to help shape and grow this wonderful group further. I want to thank Helen for all the hard work she has done in establishing this group and I know that she will be a fountain of knowledge to help me along this journey with you all.

It is an exciting time to be a part of the modern quilting movement and the modern group. Our group will continue to embrace social media and use it to educate and encourage any quilters with an interest in modern quilting to join us. We really, really want to see what all you wonderful quilters are making! One way you can do this quickly and easily is via Instagram. You can add the hashtag #qgbimoderngroup and we can see what you have been making. Remember the facebook group too! It is a quick and easy way to share what we have been working on. And of course please continue to e-mail any ideas, quilts, works in progress or events as usual to our wonderful newsletter editor, Helen Butcher. ( ).

As a member of the modern group you can also look forward to making even more connections with other 'like minded' quilters. Why not think about setting up your own modern group locally to enjoy meeting and sewing together? We will help and support you to do this and there will be an article coming soon with some hints and tips on how to do this. Expect to see some new tutor boxes by some new designers too.( there may be a few exclusive ones for modern group members only too). These tutor boxes are such a valuable resource for groups who meet and sew together! Oh and Helen has some new, cool postcards with new patterns available so please contact us if you would like some for your groups.

I will be attending Thursday and Friday of the Festival of Quilts this August and hope to meet as many of you as possible on the stand or around the show. We will have Helen's shiny new postcards available there to handout too.

This is just a taster of what is to come. Most of all, though, we really want to hear from you. The group would not exist without its members. It is your group. Please don't be shy! If you want to make a tutor box, have a pattern or new technique or tip to share then please, please contact us and we will be delighted to share it here, or go ahead and share on Instagram or Facebook. This community has so much talent in it and sharing these things with each other is how we continue to grow and flourish as quilters and as a group.

Contact me on

Hep Cat
HEP CAT by Helen Howes

QUILT STORIES: Headline News

Hep Cat: How to make (at least) four versions of the same quilt while attending to categorisation
by Helen Howes

Red Cat (link to pattern) was made from leftovers. I sent it to West Country Quilt Show as a Cot Quilt, and we made a free pattern. I now think this is Contemporary.

Then I made Trad Cat, much the same in all respects apart from the fabrics - and I pieced the border, as I made it from fat quarters. Definitely Traditional... Then I scaled the whole thing up to make Hep Cat, making the pieces from 5-inch charm squares and 5-by-14-1/2 inch strips, added buttons, made it much more neutral-grounded, gave it space, improve quilting... Modern!

Oh, and because I'm Like That, I made a minature version - Titchy Kitten (yes, that's a 50p piece) while I was at the AGM. Start with 1-inch squares... These were most useful for explaining the Differences (most common sort of question) and are being borrowed for a lecture at FOQ...

Red Cat
Red Cat
Trad Cat
Trad Cat
Titchy Kitten
Titchy Kitten


In order to comply with the new Data Protection laws we will shortly be sending out a separate email asking you to re-subscribe to the MOD-Q Newsletter. If you wish to stay on our list, please complete the instructions on the email. If you do not click through, your name will automatically be deleted from the list, so please look out for this email. There will be a free pattern available to download for all who re-subscribe! Many thanks, AitchBee

Quilts with a modern slant
Quilting with a Modern Slant


Reviewed by Helen Butcher

 I came across this book recently on a friend's bookshelf and although it is not a brand new publication (2014) I feel it is well worth reading if you can get hold of it. In addition to some great pictures of Modern quilts (quilt porn) it has interesting pieces about Modern Quilters, the names of some will be familiar while others not so, as well as some informative 'how to' and project pages.

Again this book traces the origins and early influences of the Modern Quilt Movement from the point of view of the individual quilters and also advocates that within Modern Quilting we make the rules up as we go along - anything goes!

Among the many thought provoking points made in the book, one in particular hit home for me. It drew attention to the close relationship between the Modern Quilt Movement and the internet and social media. Modern Quilters generally seem to be fairly tech savvy and share and pass on ideas very fast in this technologically advanced world. I don't think this trait is necessarily limited to a particular age group, I think it is a state of mind and a willingness to embrace something new.

Even if you only look at the pictures, this book is certainly worth getting hold of.

marjory's antipodean quilt


Sadly, we have lost a most stalwart, entertaining, fascinating, and energetic member, with the passing last month of Marjory Dench. I had known her for several years, she was always full of new ideas, was hospitable to a degree, and despite poor health in later years, an indefatigable enabler and organiser. She spent time on the Cottonopolis stand last year, showing her lovely 'Antipodean' quilt.. I'll miss her a lot.. If they have sewing machines in heaven, she'll be accumulating fabric. HH

sewing machine?

SEWING MACHINES FOR BEGINNERS (and more advanced students!)

by Helen Howes NEW SERIES: PART 7 - One Extraordinarily Useful Tool - the Stilletto

stilletto 1

Now, no matter how sophisticated your machine, and however much time you have spent in front of it, sometimes you just need a helping hand. I use these little pointy-tools all the time - the one on the right is my go-to whenever I have a seam allowance that needs persuading, a thread to pull up, or an annoying student to poke... The middle one is a hat pin. And the one on the left is a tapestry tool which fits on a finger - quite ingenious.

stilletto 2

If you cannot bear the thought of metal so close to your needle (and, yes, it takes practice) then use a bamboo kebab stick - this is cheap, will not break your machine, and is long enough to keep your fingers safe... At one time these were part of every machine's tool-kit, along with good screwdrivers.. They should come back.

AGM quilts
AGM stand 2
AGM tombola
AGM traders
AGM stand
Photo by Susan Briscoe

SHOW REPORT: Quilters' Guild AGM - Newcastle upon Tyne

by Helen Howes

This was my fourth Conference and AGM as Modern Co-ordinator, but I have been to several as a punter before. Not every year, some were too far away and some were just too much at the time. This was by far the best of my four 'in office'. We (the Specialist groups) were in the main hallway where everyone could find us, in a light and airy space, with quilt stands, good tables, nice chairs, and near the loos. Can you tell what was wrong before? (Grin). The whole weekend was gloriously sunny and warm, I was in a great hotel with a friend, and I think just about everyone now knows me, which makes life easier.

And I took my usual collection of quilts-for-touching, old sewing machine, demos, postcards, and giveaways. It's not hard to make friends with a postcard or two and a few free patterns.

This time I made a set of quilts to take with me which made explaining the 'what is Modern' thing easier too - my Red Cat is a Contemporary cot quilt. Trad Cat is the same exactly, but in soft flowery colours, so 'Traditional'. And Button Down (Also known as Hep Cat) is bigger, more spacious, I played with the colour placement on the blocks. It's Modern. I had a pattern for all of these for handing out (and it's on the Patterns page, too) And while I was there I made a new one - Titchy Kitten - a true miniature... Did I say I'm a member of Modern, Contemporary (should be called Art), Minature and Traditional groups? Why draw lines... I'm a Quilter, not ashamed to say that.

The Civic Centre was interesting, an odd sort of 70s building with fantastic style and rather peculiar layout. Good carpets; a bad cafe. Lifts all over, but well-hidden and oddly marked for floors (get in at Ground, get out one floor up at Ground...). The AGM itself was not as tediously businessy as in some years, and the whole thing was very well-attended. The organisation was great, and the volunteers had particularly pretty black-and-white sashes. The building also had nice little signs in Geordie everywhere, so my language skills have improved a tad.

Would I recommend going to a Conference? Yes, it's sociable, you get to meet lots of fellow-quilters and see interesting talks and can do workshops. I find the whole programme a bit overwhelming, and I have noticed a tendency for the lectures to be rather close together, which makes it hard to see everything and not suffer from thirst, but you don't have to do Everything. This time there was a Carousel - lots of teachers around a big room doing demos and little hands-ons, with a rotating audience. A big success, but over-subscribed to a degree. I would be much happier to see more short 'taster' sessions and small workshops, and for more to be made of demos - my first Conference had big tables with 'why not join in' and some of the later ones have had nothing apart from me...

Still, great fun all round. And next year, I'll be teaching and speaking, so actually getting paid to go!


If you would like us to include the details of your forthcoming exhibition, please forward details to me on

abingdon show

ABINGDON QUILT EXHIBITION: 14th & 15th April 2018

The Manor Prep School, Shippon, Abingdon. OX13 6LN
Lots of Quilts, competitions, tombola and fantastic raffle prizes
Contact JUDY HARRIS on for more details

blood orange
Blood Orange by Christine Seager


April 27th - May 3rd 2018
Harbour House Centre for Arts & Yoga
Kingsbridge, Devon. TQ7 1JD

modern at FOQ17


It is quite hard to generate enough copy to produce a newsletter every month, and I am sure you will be getting bored with seeing the same few names cropping up over and over, but the truth of it is that unless we have contributions from other readers it comes down to the sames old few!

I would welcome input from fellow group members ? photos, words, ideas or questions ? a big part of ModQ is sharing and teaching. Please send anything you would like to share to

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

Eleanor Mrsden
by Eleanor Marsden
Helen Clark
by Helen Clark
Pauline Stevens
by Pauline Stevens


Looking forward seeing your entries for this year's challenge for all things that fool the eye.

Please send yours to:
Helen Butcher
4, The Raveningham Centre,
Beccles Road, Raveningham, Norfolk
NR14 6NU

NOTE: Please remember the follow challenge rules
Size: 20 x 20 inches including the finished edge (binding or facing)
Sleeve: 4 inch hanging sleeve is essential
Labelling: Please include on the back - Your name, the quilt's title, date, contact email address.

CLICK HERE to see the latest crop of pictures and to read all about it

bloomfield coverlet
The Edwin Mary Bloomfield Coverlet, The Quilters' Guild Collection


Here's something for you to think about! Next year's challenge is a joint challenge throughout all the Specialist Groups of the Quilters' Guild and entrants will have to chance to have their work exhibited at 2019 Festival of Quilts. We are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Quilters' Guild and are looking for Modern interpretations of a historical quilt from the Guild's collection (please see above).

Here at Modern we will be aiming for our 20 x 20 inch format inspired by the original coverlet, it's history, story, design or construction.

CLICK HERE to go to the Guild Website and read more about the coverlet.