Modern Quilt Home Page

Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group February 2018 Newsletter

header february 2018
Plunging into the cold as the weather takes a turn for the icy. Definitely time to be thinking about cosy quilts and warmer times to come.

A word (or two) from the Editor

It's not too late! Here at Modern we feel a really important part of our remit lies in teaching and passing on what knowledge we have to the younger generation and, in fact, anyone else who is willing to listen. One of the events we run annually is for International Quilt Day (IQD) which always occurs on the third Saturday in March: 17th this year. We gather as many as forty quilters, and indeed non-quilters, of all ages for a day of fun, sewing and good food. Plenty of time to chat, try something new, do a bit of show and tell and eat cake; what would a quilting event be without cake? This year our theme is IMAGINARY MENAGERIE and we will be teaching some new blocks based on last year's popular kittenopolis cats including dogs, rabbits, hamsters, mice, fish and birds. Admittedly these last two start life rather differently than the cat blocks, but I think you get the idea.

We are hoping that you will see the results of this day's play later in the year since we are developing the blocks to become part of a project to raise funds for the Young Quilters' section of the Guild. The Young Quilters' (YQ) are run by volunteers who do a fantastic job of encouraging the young people in their YQ groups to sew with projects and patterns that appeal, but there are inevitably costs involved. Sadly there is no longer any central funding available for the YQ groups, so the five specialist groups within the Guild have been approached to give some much needed support. Of course Modern agreed to help, and I understand all of the other specialist groups have done likewise, obviously realising the importance of encouraging the next generation. We will bring you more details of how you can get involved with this undeniably important cause as soon as they are made public.

Our IQD event is in South Norfolk and anyone is welcome to join us - drop me an email if you are interested. Or you could arrange your own event for IQD, it doesn't have to be on such a lavish scale as ours; just get some friends together for a relaxing day of sewing and chat. It's not too late to get a group of like minded people together, but don't forget the cake! HB

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

Helen's Ramblings

Hello again.

It's very cold, but it's also amazing how much a bit of sunlight brings me back to life - I've had a bunch of new fabrics to play with and I'm happy to be making New Stuff.

However, I'm also thinking about the Quilters' Guild AGM (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, April) and the end of my sojourn here. I've enjoyed this, but it's time to hand over. I've had a couple of tickles, but no definite takers for the Co-ordination Thing. Be aware that I will not overstay, as I'm tired and my husband is unwell; this might mean the end of the Group. That would be a Real Shame..

On the other hand, I've been having fun with my Siblings Together Bee quilt - lots of jolly nice rainbow-coloured Tiger Blocks have arrived, been trimmed, sewn together and are now being quilted. As soon as my big machine comes back from the menders (it was running too hot, I think) I shall have this finished. meanwhile, see the Quilt Story elsewhere in this newsletter.. And Heather's blocks are accumulating nicely, see my blog (Link ) for a nice image. Bees are fun (if a trifle frustrating sometimes) and a great way to pay forward into the wider community. Oh, and to reduce that stash a little...

In the last couple of years, Modern has had a really good presence at Hever Quilt Show in Kent. Heather Hasthorpe and Jackie Norris have taken quilts, demoed blocks, and chatted-up the multitudes with a degree of fun and a lot of success. This year, they need a break, so I'm looking for someone to represent Modern at the show. You get a table to put things on, quilt stands to show things off; help; postcards, and the loan of needful things from Modern. If you fancy this, please get in touch soon - . You will get expenses paid too...

Hever 2017
Modern Quilt Group stand at Hever September 2017

And, here's a few quilts that need to go home CLICK HERE - do you recognise these? If you don't want them, please let me know, I can find uses for them, but I can't just chuck them out. You know who you are...

Meanwhile, we have the first three quilts for the 2018 Challenge 'Fooling The Eye' and will soon be looking for the postie bringing more - details elsewhere in the newsletter. We don't want them in till May, please, but would like you to start making! HH

Contact me on uk

Rainbow Tigers quilting
Rainbow Tigers in production

QUILT STORIES: Headline News

Rainbow Tiger for Siblings Together
by Helen Howes

I have always liked to make by sewing, and I do it for a living. Sometimes you just have to make to give, as the things you want to make are not sellable. And I have given a good few quilts away as gifts. Sometimes they seem unappreciated. Sometimes they seem almost overwhelming for people - I have to explain that the making is what I wanted, the giving is more a sort of not-drowning-in-stuff thing. Sometimes I want to make a traditional quilt or one from a pattern that is not allowable as stock. And few people will pay enough for a big quilt - I would rather make a gift than a cheapo, as this devalues my work. And I do have rather a lot of fabric, of course.

Last year, we were invited to get involved with the charity Siblings Together. Large familes in care are almost always divided - it's hard for carers to take on several children at once. So, not only removed from a possibly disastrous or catastrophic situation, but also not living with brothers and sisters, possibly many miles apart. ST brings them together for holidays, usually camping, so these children can remake their most important contacts and keep their family ties alive.

This is important to me, and much of my work in recent years has been in memory of my wee brother Simeon, sadly lost too young and much missed.. A quilt, a warm hug, to use and then take home, is a nice thing to give.. So, we do...

Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman
PATCHWORK CITY by Elizabeth Hartman


by Janette Supple

This book was on my Xmas list as I have enjoyed owning and making a few blocks from the 'Tula Pink' city sampler book.

Patchwork city is very different, the fabrics used in the designs look as though they have been sourced from a wider spectrum, with a bigger variety of colour and type of fabric.

The blocks are made in 3 sizes which can be mixed and matched for the finished quilts. There are 75 in total with equal amounts of 5 x 8 , 8 x 8 and 5 x 14 inches in size.

I consider myself an experienced beginner but some of these blocks are beyond my current ability. There are a lot of templates (rough count 40+) and some of the blocks have more pieces than I expected (20+). I certainly won't be going into production line sewing to finish this quilt I can see it being more of a long term project. I've also noticed that I think some of the blocks would be easier to construct using foundation paper piecing but that's probably my personal preference. I've never made templates before so that itself will stretch my ability.

There's a lot to think about in terms of colour placement and choice of fabrics, for me with a small fabric stash, this will involve planning and excess fabric consumption at trade fairs.

I'm glad I own this book, but at the moment I need to spend more time figuring it all out than doing.

Half Square Triangles
Pillary by Helen Howes

Birds, two, stones, one?
I found an odd, part-quilted piece in the Box (capital B, it's a Big Box) of Unfinisheds. On laying it on the table, we realised
a) that it was an illusionary image and
b) that it was a mere smidgen under 20 inches square. Add a fraction to one edge. Quilt, lots of straightish lines, Bind. Ta Dah! One Challenge quilt for 2018
And, oh, yes, Half-square triangles. My absolute go-to for easy blocks..
For this, you need to lay out your colours well, and make the pairs carefully. Graph paper helps a lot. You can work this out...


CLICK HERE to visit the patterns page

sewing machine?

SEWING MACHINES FOR BEGINNERS (and more advanced students!)

by Helen Howes NEW SERIES: PART 5 - Thread Stands

Modern threads are presented in many ways - the old Sylko reels that you grew up with were always wound in parallel layers and designed to sit nicely on top of the machine on an upright spool pin. This is fine as long as you remember to put them on the right way up, so that the little notch does not catch the thread as the reel revolves. (As an aside, the invention of the sewing machine made a huge difference to the quality of thread - you can hand-sew with almost anything, but machines like fine, consistent, strong threads..)

Nowadays, many threads are sold on narrow spools or card tubes, cross-wound, and they don't always sit well on the top pin. They can wobble and rattle and catch. Very irritating and not condusive to nice stitches. So, for almost all my sewing, I use a Thread Stand, of one sort or another. The simple ones, like the one shown below, are available all over - buy a heavy one if you can. Mine has a metal base. Sit this behind the machine and a tad to the right

thread stand 2

Small spools sit nicely, and unwind smoothly upwards, reducing tangles and catches. And of course, you can buy big spools - I use a lot of these and they are extremely economical.

The more sophisticated modern machines may have built-in stands of the overlocker type - this is my Juki, it has two pins so you can wind a bobbin without unthreading the other spool..

thread stand 2

And, if you have woodwork skills, or live with someone who does, these are easy to make...

cotton club 1
The Iceberg Quilt by Niki Acott at The Cotton Club Show


Some time ago Modern were invited by The Cotton Club to do our thing (demo, chat and give-aways) at their annual, three day, quilt show at Woodbridge, Suffolk. So, having chipped the van out of what appeared to be a solid block of ice early one Saturday morning in February, the two Helen's set off with quilts, patterns and sewing machines. It was a glorius day for a drive through the countryside, with frosty hedgerows and the lingering mist low over the ground making the naked trees appear to float.

The ladies of The Cotton Club where highly organised and our introduction into this (the second day of the show) was quick and painless, from a dedicated parking spot by the back door to a constant and very welcome stream of hot tea. We spent a brief but happy couple of hours demonstrating tigers - a perennial favourite - and flange binding; making lots of new friends for Modern by giving away patterns and information sheets. We packed away at lunchtime, relinquishing the demo area for the afternoon's entertainment and spent a further hour looking at the fantastic display of quilts and chatting with the traders. Just chatting? Of course not!

We arrived home late afternoon tired but happy, having stopped in the town to mend a recalcitrant sewing machine and also calling into our local quilt shop on the way (OK, a little bit out of the way) to buy some of the fabric we had seen on their stand at the show, but someone else had beaten us to. Plus, of course, one or two other things that caught our eye. All in all, a successful day getting Modern on the road again for 2018.

We were extremely pleased to hear from the organiser of this event, Val of DaisyMay Quilts, who wrote to thank us for our efforts and let us know that they look like raising around £5,000 for their local charities. We hope our efforts contributed in a small way towards this truly remarkable total. Well done to all the organisers and helpers!

cotton club 1
Wedding Present by Kate Hutson at The Cotton Club Show

cotton club 1
Up, Up and Uway by Sue Challener at The Cotton Club Show

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

m smith greetings

TUTOR BOX: Greetings

by Margaret Smith of Broomstick Quilters

Many thanks for sharing this wonderful picture with us Margaret, it is always great to see how people have got on with our Tutor Box programme. HB

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

Impossible Grid by Helen Butcher
Pillary by Helen Howes
treasure boxes
Treasure Boxes by Helen Butcher


Looking forward to May so we can start seeing your entries for this year's challenge for all things that fool the eye. Here, as promised, are my two offerings.

After 1st May, 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


Do you recognise these? From the 2015 and 2016 Challenges, and still eating at my table. if you don't want them back, please discuss, I'm sure the cat would like them (grin). HH