Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group January 2017 Newsletter

In this issue, further Ramblings from ModQ Group Co-ordinator, Helen Howes (HH), are accompanied by a report on QuiltCon West in Pasadena, USA by Mod-Q member Mary Cunningsworth who is also a member of the American Modern Quilt Group and Quilt Stories focusing on Mod-Q members who won rosettes at the recent West Country Quilt Show.

A Word from the Editor

MIND THE GAP I was flattered this week to be asked by my 17 year old niece, Freyja, to help with her design homework since I have felt, over the past few years that the age gap between us, although physically unchanged, has mentally and technologically become an un-crossable chasm. I reckon myself to be fairly tech savvy - I would be lost without my laptop, the internet is my constant companion, I use an iPad and a digital camera, I can even write a website in HTML, but as a member of the pre-facebook generation I am struggling to get to grips with social media. It struck me that we both have things to learn from each other. Learning is something that continues throughout your life, often without us even noticing, but the important thing is to keep learning or you will stop growing as a person.

By their very nature, the members of the Modern Quilt movement tend to be neophiles: we enjoy new things, learning new patterns, new techniques and a new way to approach quilting. Teaching and sharing these new ideas is also an important part of modern quilting - we need to inspire new people and future generations to take up the craft. To further this end, here in South Norfolk we celebrate International Quilt Day (the third Saturday in March - this year 18th March) with a day of fun sewing, good food and quilting camaraderie where novice and experienced sewers can exchange ideas and learn from each other. Perhaps you could arrange something similar in your area, or get some friends together and borrow one or two of the Tutor Boxes to try?

My parting advice to Freyja at the end of the report I wrote for her, was exactly the same: never stop learning - it might not keep you young forever, but by embracing new things you stay young at heart. And my side of the bargain? I have resolved to grit my teeth and embrace social media - who knows I may learn to love it yet!
Contact me on helen@littlepatchpockets.co.uk HB.

Helen's Ramblings

One of the things that strikes me about Modern Quilting, is that people work so very hard to pigeonhole it.. It "must be" this, or "should be" that.. Really? I think it's what we want it to be, but first and most importantly, it's about Making Quilts, with pleasure, with nice fabric, with love.. Trying too hard to make it all the same is frightful.. And boring.. Yes, neutrals, but also, why not bright red.. Yes, areas of negative space, but hey! why not busy too...

So, if you ask yourself "Is this Modern?" the answer is almost certainly "Yes!"

I've been invited to speak at a Regional Day in Perth (Scotland, not Australia) in May (but this may not happen, for various complicated reasons). I will be in the Forres area in late June and early July, but this year I'm actually planning a few days holiday, and would be glad to make time to meet with groups or individual members if you would like that... I will be in the Borders too, and would like to ask any Scots members who would like to get together then or around then to contact me on helen@raindropkites.co uk

QUILT STORIES - Headline News

Should I Stay or Should I Go
by Abigail Sheridan de Graff

WCQS WINNER: Best Piecing

This quilt was inspired by my family's situation: Born in the UK, married to a Kiwi, one daughter born there, one daughter born here, back and forth numerous times over the years. My heart lies in both countries and, no matter which country I am in at the time, it is always there at the back of my mind - should I stay or should I go?!

At the planning stage each flag was going to be A3 size. First I designed the paper pieced pattern for the NZ flag stars and, being new to paper piecing, I did not want to go any smaller so the flags became larger. The Union Jack flag is designed to be the exact specification of the 3:5 flag that is used by the Army. There are 894 squares in the quilt - which I only counted up after it was finished!

should i stay


Night Owl: By the light of the silvery moon
by Joe Bennison

WCQS WINNER: Best Small Hanging

This quilt started its life as a sketch on the beach whilst on holiday, I had not made a wholecloth quilt before and was quite daunted by the idea.

I used Radiance fabric by Robert Kaufman in a beautiful peacock blue and quilted it using my Handiquilter Longarm machine. The threads I choose were Glide by Filtec in various colours and a metallic variegated thread by Madeira for the tail feathers.

I marked the fabric using a Bohin chalk pencil, I only marked the tree trunk, the stems for the owls head feathers and some reference points for the owls eyes, body and 5 lines for his tail feathers. I then set to work freehand quilting the owl and the tree.

I finished this quite quickly and was really pleased with the results, I was then so scared that I was going to ruin it when I quilted the background that it sat on my frame for 3 weeks, where I would look at it each day trying to decide what would work best, in the end I just went for it!

I then finished the quilt with a very thin silver piping before adding the binding.

The Night Owl is one of my favourite pieces of work so far, I love the rich tone and find something different in the quilting every time I look at it.

The lower photograph shows Joe's original sketch

night owl

night owl sketch


QuiltCon West: a very different Quilt Event
by Mary Cunningsworth

When I saw the Modern Quilt Guild had settled on permanent venues for its annual get together starting with QuiltCon West in Pasadena California, February 2016, I decided I had to go. I could fly direct to LA, take advantage of pre age 70 travel insurance and enjoy some winter sun.

Booking procedure was far more streamlined than for any other US show as you knew straightaway whether you had a workshop place or your waiting list position. I had to be quick as places filled up fast. On arrival a barcode on your name tag gained admittance to your chosen events. The sheer professionalism is all the more impressive in that unlike the AQS and IQA etc. this is a non commercial organisation run by quilters for quilters. It was noticeable that the attendees were from a much younger demographic, not surprising as the MQG has its origins online and appealed to many young mums in isolation who found online communication a priority. An Instagram feed ran on a large screen in the auditorium with constant updates from the show floor.

Instagram seemed to be the social medium of choice but I kept up with events on my 'Quayquilter" blog. I didn't take any pictures of prizewinners but when I came home and looked for other postings I realised the "Best of Show" had aroused some controversy and I posted a picture of "My Brother's Jeans", a link to the discussion I read and my own thoughts on March 31st.
HERE is a link if interested.

This was a juried show but I felt the criteria for both jurying and awards were very different as were the categories, which included minimalist design, use of negative space, improvisation and modern traditionalism. There were sections for handwork, piecing, applique, and one for quilts based on triangles and another for small quilts. "Bee" or group quilts and youth quilts were in their own categories.

The show was held in three impressive buildings side by side, recent meeting and exhibition centres flanking the older Civic Auditorium. The hall in the latter was filled with natural light and there were no traders to distract from quiet contemplation of quilt displays and special exhibits. Gwen Marston was the keynote speaker and there was a selection of her liberated quilts, also quilts by Molly Upton who died at a young age but whose prophetic work has an individual voice and quilts which had been featured in the MQG's online Quilt of the Month posts. More quilts were to be found in the main exhibition hall across the way along with traders, who were not plentiful but who stocked the newer, fresher harder to find modern fabrics. Fabric manufacturers were there in force with innovative displays, designers in attendance and lots of games and giveaways from charm packs to 30 yard heaps. There was a small area for marketing and technique/equipment presentations. The large foyer's glass windows looked onto the street and members of the public could enter to view the group charity quilts that decorated the walls, mostly large and very improvisational.

A programme of lectures and panels ran alongside and I got a ticket that covered all of them so I could come and go as I chose. I found some of the less experienced speakers hard to follow but others were superb, notably Bill Kerr and the amazing Gwen Marston who was irreverent, witty and wise; even this reticent Brit. joined in the standing ovation at the close. Workshops were held in the third building and classrooms gave onto a central space where you could buy snacks and drinks, a good place to pause and take stock. I only did one evening class on the Use of the Design Wall with Rossie Hutchinson where fabric was provided, sewing was minimal and as promised the emphasis was on using the design wall to good effect. Working in groups took away the pressure. After the discussion the design wall was shaken, pieces fluttered to the floor and we started again. We had plenty of space and there was a fleet of irons and also large cutting boards had been provided at side tables although we didn't need them.

To make sense of flying such a long way the three of us stayed for ten days as Pasadena is such a lovely place. I chose a hotel 10 to 15 minutes walk away from the venue but in the "Old Town" (1920's), streets of trendy shops, cafes and restaurants. Within walking distance too was the Norton Simon Museum which I had never heard of before but took my breath away as I entered to see three beautiful glowing Van Goghs on the wall facing me. So many lovely pieces by Renoir, Cezanne, Monet and Degas. Older paintings in another gallery included a wonderful self portrait of Rembrandt in the prime of his life and success. We ended by walking through the sculpture garden. Gardens were the focus of a visit to the Huntington with many plant zones and styles covered. The main galleries included lots of paintings by British artists and the library famously houses the Gutenberg Bible. We also walked to visit the Japanese influenced Arts and Crafts style Gamble House. On a less elevated note we also took a pre-booked tour round the Paramount Studios. The guide asked where we were parked but hearing we'd walked he was totally amazed and amazed too we had travelled by bus. However we found it very easy to get around by public transport and the metro took us into downturn LA where we took a shuttle bus to a shopping outlet.

All in all I found the experience magical and definitely plan to return in two years time but before then there's QuiltCon East in Savannah, Georgia, another interesting destination in its own right.

Standing before one of exhibition buildings - its twin housed the workshop

pasadena 2
Melissa Averinos My Brothers Jeans

pasadena 3
Anna Maria Horner holds court

pasadena 4
Huge workshop rooms with six cordless irons and lots of cutting space

pasadena 5
Second exhibition space - quilts without distractions


Festival of Quilts 2017

After the unprecedented success of the new Modern Quilt category at Festival of Quilts 2016 which saw more than 70 entries in its first year, we think it would be great to have an even bigger display this year. So why not enter a quilt? You don't have to be an experienced professional, you don't even need to be a member of the Quilters' Guild, it is open to all ages and abilities. It doesn't have to be enormous - the rules say that one side needs to be at least one metre long (that's 3 foot, 3 inches in quilt-speak) now that isn't too daunting is it? All quilts entered are hung, and I can assure you there is an immense satisfaction in seeing YOUR quilt hanging at the NEC alongside those of your quilting heroes. There is plenty of time to get thinking and making, quilts have to be declared at the end of May, and sent off in July. If you are interested, CLICK HERE to view the overall competition and specific category rules.


Still time to enter, CLICK HERE for details