Modern Quilt Home Page

Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group May 2017 Newsletter

header may 17
Another MOD-Q roadtrip, Scotland this time, and information about current challenges plus exciting news for 2018.

A word (or two) from the Editor

ON THE FACE OF THINGS: I have had the great good fortune, over the past couple of years, to produce some designs for and work with fabric manufacturer, Oakshott & Co. When they launched a new website earlier this year they asked me to write a short piece on choosing fabrics, and it seemed like valid information to share with you here.

Choosing fabrics is the part of design I find most enjoyable and most agonising. I use a lot of tone-on-tone and plain woven fabrics, or fabrics which read as such at a distance. Auditioning fabrics is one of the most useful skills any patchwork artist can develop, whatever effect you are aiming for, any quilt needs a contrast of tone to accentuate the design.

Although colour is of predominant importance to me in my designs I would avoid using any fabric with a low thread count or a loose weave however good the colour. Thinner fabrics do not handle well, will fray quickly and will not wear well in the finished quilt. Many of the fabrics at the cheaper end of the market cover up this deficiency with excessive amounts of surface ink and stiffening treatments – the secret is to turn to the back and check the thread count. It is worth investing in good fabrics, the old adage about silk purses and sow’s ears is very apposite. I find that, in general, you get what you pay for, and good, 100% cotton, patchwork fabric is worth paying for. Tempting though those online offers for cheap fabric may seem - nothing beats meeting a fabric in person, seeing the colour, feeling the quality. I understand some people have no option but the online market place, but how many of us have brought 'exactly the right colour scarlet' online, just to have it arrive a disappointingly dirty red? There are just too many variables; the lighting and camera of the original photo, your computer settings, even the angle of your computer screen can all effect the colour you see on screen. Shops and shows are a safer bet for me.

I am also inveterately lazy, and have never pre-washed a fabric in my life, so I always look for a fabric that is likely to shrink only minimally. Some shrinkage is to be expected, especially when combining fabrics from different manufacturers, but I look on this as part of the charm of a washed quilt. However, cheap fabric with an open, loose weave will shrink at hugely different rates when washed, ruining your work.

As a follower of the Modern Quilt Movement I am a great believer that quilts are for using: for your three-year-old to drag down the garden, and the dog to sleep on and to go in the washing machine. Frequently washed quilts have a lovely texture that just cannot be achieved by using cheap fabric which will degrade quickly. You need to start with good fabric in order for it to take that sort of wear, just as you would to make that heirloom piece for a special occasion.

And that nice red I wanted? Nothing for it, looks like a trip to the local quilt shop is called for! HB

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

Helen's Ramblings

This month I have taken the Modern Roadshow to Scotland (see the Perth regional Day report) and I've been working hard on the finishing touches for the Tutor Box (link) pages - I have divided the teaching notes from the Instructions, so that you can print multiples of the latter for a group and just as many of the former as needed.. I've made a couple of new ideas, too, and plan to have a few more.. And please feel free to offer ideas, or ask for tutorials for things that may be of interest… I do hope you will also send images for the pages when you have played with the ideas. I have had some lovely pictures so far, and there's room for many more..

Gallery Pages are open to any Modern member who wishes to show their work on the website All I need is an image or several and a few words about each - who made for, when made, size, inspiration… I made these when I started this Group, and would be very happy to add to the lists - I am going to remove non-members pages, though, as I do need some enticements to get you to join Modern...

Not a member? You are welcome to keep getting the newsletter, but the membership opens up all manner of interesting opportunities, freebies, and access to the Challenges - see 2018 Challenge for details of next year's jollities.. HH

Contact me on uk

tk block mix
Blocks for SUPERSTAR DJ Challenge

The Cottonopolis Challenges and our Festival of Quilts Gallery

by Kate Percival
Kate is still looking forward to receiving more entries for the various Jukebox Challenges, especially for the Thomas Knauer Quilt but also Phase Two of the Jukebox itself - all those lovely 24 inch quilts you've been working on - get them sent in!

Kate will also be drumming up some more support for manning the stand at Festival of Quilts. If you are coming to the show and can spare and hour, please get in touch. (A great chance to sit down and talk to people about modern quilting!)

Email Kate on

Shimmer Cot Quilt

QUILT STORIES: Headline News

The Shimmer Cot Quilt
by Helen Howes

One of my particular aims with Modern has been to make easy patterns and ideas and inspirations, so that we all make more quilts, and have a good time while doing it.. Last year, for West Country Quilt Show, I made this little cot quilt, and alongside it, a post card with the pattern on the back.. It proved so popular that I reprinted it - the first time I have had to do this.

The idea was to take a Charm Pack (5 inch squares) and a background colour, to make something that was accessible to people without much stash (yet). Beginners are attracted to these little packs, and they tend to have a nice selection fo fabrics, but they are not really enough by themselves.. I think the hardest part was choosing a pack that wasn't "boy" or "girl". Of course, you can make this from stash, and I am making a navy-and-boaty version, and have a dark and a pale big version in the pipeline…

Anyhow, the postcards are almost all gone, so I've put the pattern online here

Ruth Bristol 12
Challenge 12 by Ruth Case

Michaela Bristol Stars
Wonky Stars by Michaela Knight


by Michaela Knight
A few ladies from various Quilt Groups in and around Bristol have now met twice to form a new group. We discussed at length “What is a Modern Quilt?” and it was a lively debate with lots of good ideas and suggestions from all. Some brought their first attempts and it was a good evening.

In March we challenged ourselves to make a 12” block and to adapt a traditional block to meet the criteria of a modern quilt. On Wednesday we had about 8 blocks to look at which all looked fresh and modern, but unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of them. Therefore only pictures of Ruth’s and mine are available. Ruth was also asked to make a miniature quilt for a different exhibition.

We will be meeting again in September and our challenge for that meeting is:- make a table runner, twice as long as it is wide (i.e. 15” x 30”, 20” x 40” or whatever suits your table).

If anybody would like to join us in September, please get in touch with me and I will pass on further details.

Perth 1
Modern stand, with added basketball

Perth 2
Susan Briscoe speaks - lots of quilts

PERTH: Regional Day Report

by Helen Howes
A huge, slightly elusive venue hosted the Scottish Regional day, with guest speakers Susan Briscoe and Malcolm Lockheed...

And four of the Specialist Groups, Modern, Miniature, Traditional, and Contemporary. Ann Hill, the Region 16 co-ordinator, is keen to see the Specialist Groups having a regular presence at Regional days, and the provide a meeting-space for members to get-together around these. I got to meet several members and see their quilts, which is always nice...

I took the chance for a holiday (because, for certain, no-one wants to pay me to go that far for a single Saturday) and booked a cottage on Loch Rannoch for a few days.. My hand-crank and some unfinished Tutor Boxes came with me, and the peace, lack of broadband, and scenery was restful to a degree.. The roads are scary, big lorries and narrow verges are a poor mix.. The colours, on the other hand, are inspirational.. All those subtle early tree-greens… On the Sunday, we were treated to a bicycle race past the door.. I don't plan to go that far for the Glasgow meeting, so if you would like to be a rallying point for the Modern Group in Scotland, please get in touch

Binding 1


A new series by Helen Howes on various steps for preparing a quilt

CLICK HERE for the full tutorial



A chance for you to play with all things illusionary or 3-D

CLICK HERE to read all about it