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Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group March 2017 Newsletter

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This month we will be shining the spotlight on MOD-Q group's TUTOR BOX programme - brainchild of Helen Howes and Heather Hasthorpe - a fantastic teaching resource for groups large and small. Also information about forming MOD-Q regional groups and of course there's still plenty of time to enter the COTTONOPOLIS CHALLENGES

A word (or two) from the Editor

PIECE & QUIET: How often does the cry go up 'Oh, for a bit of peace and quiet to get on with some sewing'? Modern life is fraught with committments of all shapes and sizes; managing a home, a job, a family, a business all take time away from our brief opportunities for creativity. Even if you are lucky enough to work in the creative industry, your eye is always on the bottom line - is what you're doing saleable? Commercially viable? Can you teach it or write a pattern for it?

None of us get as much chance as we would like to just play. Try things out, be creative, make a mess, make mistakes and learn from them. Our creativity is as individual as we are - how we view the world, what goes on in our heads, and how we express it is different for everyone. You only have to look at the enormous variety on display at Festival of Quilts to get an inkling of this diversity. All the items are quilts, but no two are remotely similar! Even two quilts made from the same pattern will reflect their maker through the choice of colour and fabric.

Other people may find creative expression in the form of music or art, but we are stitchers and this is our love. Some would call it an obsession, I say there are far worse things we could be doing.

We all spend so much of our time doing things for other people - be it the boss, the kids or the customers - sometimes it is difficult to find time to do things for ourselves, and when we do, we feel guilty. WHY IS THAT? It's time we gave ourselves permission to play. Time to (briefly) stop being someone's partner or someone's parent. Time to be creative and be ourselves. I am not suggesting we shirk all our social responsibilities, I understand that life has priorities. Let's face it though, it's unlikely that anything bad will happen if the housework isn't done today, so why not have a bit of fun? HB

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

Helen's Ramblings

Hello again..

Travelling Time - this week I'm teaching away four days out of five, it's All Go - seems like the quilting season comes up with the crocuses.

I'm off to the Quilters' Guild Conference and AGM in Torquay at the end of March - please do come by and say Hello if you are there (and oddments of help are most graciously welcomed, as I think I won't get enough coffee otherwise).. I'm available for informal meetings in the evenings, too, as I don't usually do the Gala Dinner (never suits my food requirements…) If you may need to meet up please email me for my mobile number

And I'm in Scotland on the 20th May, at the Perth Regional Day, representing Modern. Are you a Scottish member? Would you like to bring some quilts to show; say hello; play Modern? I will be demonstrating and talking about the Group so far and spending a few days in the area for a brief-but-much-needed break. If your Group would like to meet with me while I'm up there, (and I'll be visiting in late June and September, too) I would be delighted to drop in…

Now, the Guild is keen that we don't outstay our welcomes, so I'm concerned that the Group will lose too much continuity when roles need to be handed on.. So, it's important to get some new faces in the old places pretty soon, so the handover can be both tidy and helped-along nicely.. We will need a new Exhibitions Officer (Kate will be getting a more supervisory position of Great Power after this year's big exhibition at Festival of Quilts) and I would like someone to take on some of the web stuff - poking the Yahoo Group wth a sharpish stick, putting stuff onto the Guild site, etc.. Some of these can be really rather small jobs, so need not be onerous..
Also, someone willing to make a Suitcase Collection, and send it around..
And I cannot be Co-ordinator forever - do you see this in your eye?

Contact me on uk

tbox wonky stars
TUTOR BOX 13: Wonky Stars


Heather Hasthorpe writes:
Modern Quilt Specialist Group came about from a discussion Helen and I had about what our students were looking for:

Bright colourful washable quilts, with somewhat quirky designs where seam allowances and points aren't vital - blocks can be trimmed - and manageable quilting.

A brief Google search of what is happening, particularly in Australia and the USA confirmed that not much of this was to be found here.

We began producing teaching packs which included copyable instructions, teaching notes, and a good quality handling sample (washable of course!) of some of the ideas we wanted to explore. They can be posted out to groups for minimal cost and form the basis for a teaching session. These are not "quilt patterns" but rather jumping off points for groups to try out and then develop their own ideas. And much cheaper for group organisers than hiring in workshop tutors.

It's cheering to see pictures of group sessions as they come in showing the way ideas can be developed. It's lovely to see original work!

tbox blue garden rain
TUTOR BOX 8: Garden in the Rain

TUTOR BOXES Helen Howes adds:

We've had a good deal of fun devising and making these - and the people who have taken them seem to have made the most delightful quilts, all different.. if you click through from the TUTOR BOXES page I have put some of these results online.. And I'm really happy to go on devising and revising (and writing instructions for your offerings - can you offer an offering? and putting these online, but I'm also really happy that Judi Kirk is taking over the job of sending these out and looking after them in between-times

Contact Judi on:

I really want to emphasise that this is about teaching these skills onward - please KEEP the paperwork that comes out with the samples (when you send the samples back) and feel free to copy these for distribution - I see the remit of the Guild as an Educational Charity as being fulfilled best by practical hands-on and setting-good-examples, alongside making-it-as-easy-as-possible.. And, we all know how compulsive and satisfying patchwork and quilting can be, so it's nice to share. I do not restrict these just to members of Modern (although, if the demand gets too heavy, they will get priority) - anyone can order a box for a Group of any size from one or two upwards..
CLICK HERE to read more about the TUTOR BOXES

Mary Cunningsworth

QUILT STORIES: Headline News

Modern Stars
by Mary Cunningsworth

My quilt top is closely based on a picture of the block on Pinterest. I tracked down the blog post which in turn linked to a tutorial by “Kylie Sews” but at that point the trail went cold as the site is now defunct. I sized the block so that three by three blocks wouldn’t be too big for a baby quilt. I settled on 13.75” which meant the units came to multiples of 2.75” as the block is a five patch so I had to concentrate.

The blocks are quarter turned which means seams don’t have to match up. I followed the original fabric choices closely as suitable for a baby girl but I think the pattern would translate well into reproduction fabrics. I freezer paper foundation pieced the longer star points cutting the background pieces exactly to size and ironing on the foundations, checking the seam allowance went all round. I made freezer paper templates for the star points, ironed them on (note mirror images) and rotary cut round with a generous seam allowance. I removed the template and added them to the foundation piece with plenty of leeway to trim to size afterwards. I made the foundations by sewing layers of freezer paper with an unthreaded machine and a short length so the perforated pieces were easy to tear away. However you could piece accurately cut units if you have the skills.

Ros Crouch


Modern Crosses Group Quilt by Thame & District U3A Group
by Ros Crouch

Last year Thame & District U3A Quilt Group borrowed some Tutor Boxes from ModQ Group. Afterwards we embarked on a group quilt using the crosses block. Each member was given enough dark blue fabric to make a couple of blocks, one with the fabric as main colour & the other with the fabric making the cross. All but one out of the 12 members took up the challenge and some made several blocks with own colour choices.

It wasn’t in everyone’s comfort zone but hey, it was finished this month. Even those with reservations are pleased with the result. More importantly the group had several useful discussions about design; placement, layout. spacing, quilting options, choice of thread, colour of binding. All this took time spread over several months but it’s been a very valuable exercise for everyone and been a good collaborative project. So thanks for the impetus. We now need to choose a name and decide what to do with it.

One our members is already making her own rain quilt inspired by one of the other boxes!

box section detail 2


Now, the Modern Group is National, so that means it's hard to reach everyone.. And I know there are lots of you out there just itching to start small Groups, meet in the pub, or swap stashes.. I'm also keen that people with a Modern bent are heard and seen within the Guild structure.. So, here are some Local Contacts - there is room for a good many more.. Not Committee positions, so all that you need is enthusiam and a willingness to be a Regional Contact. It's pretty much impossible for me to know your local area like you do, where towns are, transport, all that stuff.. And if you want to take the Modern Idea to your local Area and Regional days, I'm happy to support you with ideas, postcards and patterns to give out, loan of a banner if required.. Just ask… And the more the merrier, please... HH

cottonopolis 178 detail


Festival of Quilts 2017
Kate Percival

A HUGE thank you to everyone who has already sent blocks and quilts for the various challenges for the Cottonopolis Jukebox Exhibition at NEC Festival of Quilts in August this year. There are still many ways you can get involved:

M is for MODERN
Letter 'M' blocks March/April 2017 Challenge

12 x 12 inch to be finished by the end of April 2017

Superstar DJ MegaMix
10.5 x 10.5 inch blocks to be finished by the beginning of May 2017

24 x 24 inch to be finished by the end of May 2017
...and various others...

PLUS, of course, I will need help manning the exhibition space during the show itself.

Interested? email me! Kate.