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Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group March 2018 Newsletter

header february 2018
With news of the first finished Modern Sampler Quilt and a fantastic report from QuiltCon, plenty to see here!

A word (or two) from the Editor

Patch Happy On the whole I have found that quilters are a sociable lot. We like to get together and exchange ideas, see what others are doing and drink quantities of tea. Of course there is always an exception that proves the rule, but generally we seem happier and are more creative and productive if we have someone (or several someones) to bounce ideas off. I have often wondered what the collective noun is for quilters. A Seam? A Blether?

I know it is not always easy to find a local group to join; when I lived in Yorkshire there were several quilting groups locally, I always seemed to be working or busy when they met. Now, of course, the answer to this was that I should have started my own group as you will no doubt be saying to yourself, but I didn't have the drive, knowledge or inclination to do so. What I did have (in unending quantities) was my own business to run and very little free time for creativity. My wilderness years - trying to create in isolation is not easy.

At Mod-Q we are trying to encourage modern quilters to get together in local groups for this invaluable exchange of ideas and support. CLICK HERE to see if there is a group in your area, or perhaps start one of your own (yes I know it isn't easy - I have every sympathy!) I also understand that sometimes it can be a bit daunting to visit a group for the first time, but I would recommend that you take your courage in both hands and go for it. It might be a bit uncomfortable at the start, but as you get to know people and join in you will see every group has members with a range of skills and knowledge from beginners upwards. We all had to start somewhere and are just at different points on the same journey!

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

Helen's Ramblings

Well, Spring finally sprung, we have been madly making samples for that nice Mr Oakshott (who has promised us a discount code for next time’s newsletter) and this, with luck and a following wind, will be my last-but-one newsletter as co-ordinator.. I have a volunteer, if the Guild allows, you will have a new head-of-ideas in May! I have had fun, but now I need some time to play…

The snow did nothing for me apart from filling my wellies and pockets while excavating the car from a drift, but my long-arm-quilting friend reckons everyone was busy sewing, she is up to her ears in finished tops…

Going to the AGM? Can you collect some postcards for your local Group or Region? I will have a couple of new ones with patterns on

And, the Challenge (CLICK HERE to read all about it).. Get sewing!

Contact me on uk

Modern Quilt Sampler
Modern Sampler Quilt by Maria Spiller

QUILT STORIES: Headline News

Modern Sampler Quilt
by Maria Spiller

I attended a workshop with Helen Howes in 2017 arranged by Quay Quilters Modern Group, who formed in January 2017. I didn’t know at the time that the quilt would soon be featured in The Quilter. I haven’t rushed to get it finished, I just had a head start!!!!

One of two of the techniques had been covered in other workshops I’ve attended with Helen, but being able to then use up the scraps to created new and original blocks appealed to me - using everything, not throwing anything away.

The fabrics were left over from a quilt I made in 2015 for my then soon-to-be-son-in-law. I even had the white fabric and the backing so another of my aims was met - to try and de-stash a bit.

Modern Quilts

Designs of the New Century compiled by members of the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG)

by Helen Butcher

I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is 95% images and what an inspiration they are! All of the quilts have been excellently photographed (I can vouch for this having met several of them in person) and most of them were made by members of the MQG which is an international group.

The book traces the origins of the Modern Quilt movement including examples of early influences from as far back as early/mid twentieth century, although the majority of the quilts shown have been made in the past ten years. (The MQG was started in the USA in 2009.)

The gallery section of the book is broken down into categories grouping together quilts which illustrate a particular element of modern quilting such as 'Improvisation' 'Scale' and 'Negative Space' to name but a few. For me this book encompasses the many and varied aspects of modern quilt design, typified by the openning paragraph of the indroduction:

"Modern quilts mean different things to different people. Modern quilts are utilitarian. They are art. They tell stories. They are graphic, improvisational, or minimalist. They break the rules. They make statements."

The remainder of the words in the book although brief are none-the-less pertinent and, although this hardback is not cheap, it is an investment that will give enjoyment and inspiration for years to come!

sewing machine?

SEWING MACHINES FOR BEGINNERS (and more advanced students!)

by Helen Howes NEW SERIES: PART 6 - Holding it all Together

An important part of sewing, as soon as the seam gets more than a few inches long, or complicated, is Holding Things Together I’m a great fan of ordinary straight dressmakers pins, actually getting quite hard to find at reasonable prices. Some of the Chinese ones seem not to have a pointy end… Here’s a selection of ideas for holding one piece to another, and how these work on the machine

Hold it 1

From the left, bent (good) and straight (cheap) safety pin; flat-headed pin of a cheap sort; regular dressmakers (extra-long, extra-fine); Clover button-top; plastic-headed long and glass-headed short pins; little bulldog clips.

Cheap pins are horrible. Not sharp, not strong, and they rust. Don’t leave steel pins in cotton fabric for a long time, please. Cheap safety pins are even worse - the straight thin-metal ones are frustratingly bendy and not-sharp. On the other hand, the bent ones seem expensive, until you have used them a lot of times. Always put them away open, as it saves time next time.

Long ball-headed plastic-topped are nice for some jobs, but beware getting them under the iron, as they melt. For attaching sleeves these are great, as you can see them to remove them from the back of the quilt. Put them in across the seam line.

Short ones with small glass heads tend to be good quality, and are nice for fine fabrics like Liberty lawns and silk. The heads break, so don’t crush them. The iron should not cause grief, though.

For foundation paper-piecing there is much to be said for bulldog clips - they hold the paper-backed pieces together without distortion and are easy to remove as you sew.

Now, I cannot emphasise too strongly how important it is NOT to sew over pins. More machines are destroyed by this than almost any other bad habit. You hit the pin, the needle breaks, the timing is messed-up, you might lose an eye…

Hold it 3

I almost always set the pins along the line of the seam, like the left-hand one here. This makes it easy to open up the seam before you sew to check alignment of your blocks. If you are pinning lots of layers or over complex seam-joins, you may choose to pin at right-angles to the sewing line, as on the right.

If you are right-handed, always pin at the top edge of the work, then the pins slide nicely out with the heads towards you as you sew. Lefties should pin at the nearer edge.. As you sew, remove the pin before your needle comes too close.

For layering quilts, I use regular pins on really small work, as these are quick to remove. For anything large, and in the interest of not getting points in my thumbs, I use good bent quilters’ safety pins. I have used fusible batting (not very easy for anything big) and, once only, spray adhesive. Never again! Sticky, expensive, destructive to the table, hard on the lungs..Ugh! Pins can seem hard, but I much prefer them, not least because you don’t have to wash the quilt before you use it. Your mileage, as they say, may vary..

If you find the safety pins hard to close, you can buy a nice gadget. Or you can use the Teaspoon Trick

Hold it 4
Hold it 5

Tip the pin back as it emerges from the fabric, then catch it in the bowl of your spoon, use the leverage to close the pin. Easy on the fingernails…

And for bindings, there is much to be said for the little bulldog clips again, or binding clips..

macaroons 57
Macaroons No 57 by Sarah Hibbert


by Sarah Hibbert

On February 19th I boarded a flight to LA/Pasadena for my second visit to a Quiltcon, I had mixed emotions, one of sheer excitement and one of nervousness. I wanted so much for it to match up to last’s Savannah lovely experience. On stepping through the Pasadena Convention Centre’s door, I need not have worried – it was great. The buzz around the registration desks was so exciting, meeting old friends and new IG friends and even our neighbours in the queue. Everyone was so pleased to be at this super party! I say party as it really did feel that way, a real quilting community with all sharing ideas, knowledge and enthusiasm.

I was lucky enough to have two quilts accepted this year, Serendipity II made in an improv style using linen and even my Father’s drawings photocopied onto Fabric. The second quilt was Macaroons No 57 which was based on one of my collages I put together last April. No 57 relates to the number it was in the collage sequence. This quilt was pieced by myself but long quilted by Christine Perringo in Denver. She really did bring out the texture I was looking for. I received lots of positive feedback, so much so I was called the Macaroon lady on quite a few occasions. Moda Fabrics kindly featured Serendipity II as one of their daily favourites. Being a good English girl and I visited their stand and thanked them for this, they questioned which fabric from their range did I use in it…. Oh… none I said, saying that I was happy with my 5 minutes of fame and they could remove their choice, they didn’t! Truth be known, from all their favourite choices of the show, none featured Moda Fabric!

serendipity 2
Serendipity II by Sarah Hibbert

There were several amazing quilts that really sparkled for me, which I have shown below, again these are my personal choices. The overall number of quilts really did seem to marry well with their neighbours this year – I am not sure if this was part of the initial approval stage or how they were hung. But the whole show had a very good vibe and balance.

Lollipop by Diane Vandeyar
pop rocks
Pop Rocks by Cheryl Brickey
treasure boxes
Canterbury by Debbie Grifka

Black, Brown and White in Orange
Black, Brown and White in Orange by Karen Maple
Feminist Quilt
Feminist Quilt by Darcie Read
She Was Warned
‘She Was Warned’ by Liz Havartine
I have featured the winning quilt ‘Going Up’, made by Stephanie Skardal. It was beautifully executed and fully deserving of the best in show, but for me it fell flat maybe because the overall show was so full of colour and loud quilts. My personal ‘Visitors choice’ was ‘Bobby Dale’s Blue Jeans’ made by Chawne Kimber - this was in the small category. I am just sorry that I did not put my hand against it to be able to show you the size of this amazing piece, all very tiny.

Going Up
Going Up by Stephanie Skardal
Chawne Kimber Bobby Dale’s Blue Jeans
Bobby Dale’s Blue Jeans by Chawne Kimber


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

Apologies if I have missed anyone off this month (I am sure I had details from someone recently) I have been suffering from a catastrophic computer melt-down and am surviving - just - on an antiquated back-up laptop while my NEW computer is being rebuilt! I may have lost some data, so please do re-send your exhibition information

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.

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