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Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group May 2018 Newsletter

header may 2018
TIME to get your entries in for this year's FESTIVAL OF QUILTS

A word (or two) from the Editor

TIME MARCHES ON At the beginning of the year I was full of plans to have multiple entries at this year's Festival of Quilts in the Summer. Not just a quilt in the Modern catagory - that goes without saying - but Contemporary, Miniature, Art and possibly even Traditional. How hard can that be, I have six months to get them done and never any lack of ideas. Does this brand of heady optimism sound familiar? Well here we are, less than a week off the deadline for declaring entries (1st June CLICK HERE to make your entry) and I have precisely one quilt made. I do have two more tops made and waiting for quilting, so I can have an educated guess at their finished size on the entry forms. The last two entries are fairly nebulous and I really must do a few sketches and come up with some numbers remembering, of course, that any quilt entered (except miniatures) needs to be at least one metre in one direction. Sounds simple enough when you put it like that, luckily you only pay one fee no matter how many entries you make. In addition to the details of size, materials used and construction methods the tiny fly in the ointment is the Artist's Statement which needs to accompany each entry. Oh to find the right balance between a terse, three word bare minimum or some overly pretentious sesquipedalian (look it up) essay. As you can tell, mine usually err on the side of wordy! Once the entries have been declared I have another eight weeks (eight weeks, such luxury!) to get them designed, pieced, finished, quilted, blocked, bound and posted to the events company. A piece of cake (yes, please!)

If you find the thought of entering the main competition utterly daunting have you considered entering the 2018 Challenge - Fooling the Eye? You might have heard about it (CLICK HERE for details). The official closing date for challenge entries is listed as 31st July, but we will actually accept quilts handed to us at the Modern Quilt section of the Quilters' Guild stand at Festival. We will be displaying challenge quilts at Festival - changing those shown on the stand each day. Then the entire collection will go on to be shown at The West Country Quilt Show in Bristol in September and then, with grateful thanks to new Group Co-ordinator Collette, they will go on to be shown at five ICHF Craft Shows running into Spring of 2019. We are hoping for other venues next year, so don't count on getting your entries back for eighteen months or so. AitchBee

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

Co-ordinator's Report

Well this is my first Newsletter as your co - ordinator and I am honoured to be here. Let me first say a lovely, big welcome to all our new members! It is so great to have you here in The Modern Quilt Group. We are really pleased you joined and can't wait to get to know you better through the many ways in which we connect together as a group. There are lots of ways to get involved in YOUR group so if you have any suggestions, ideas, thoughts then please do get in touch!

We are heading into the warmer season (at last) and life can get busy as we plan for holidays and get outdoors more and enjoy the sunshine. There are still many things going on within the modern quilt group though. Our "Fooling The Eye" challenge devised by Newsletter Editor, Helen Butcher, is going strong and it is fantastic to see so many of you working on your challenge quilts. These will displayed at the Festival of Quilts and then move on to The West Country Quilt Show. We have been asked by ICHF events to display them at their Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 events throughout the UK! This is a great opportunity for our modern quilt group to gain more recognition for the amazing work you all create. So get quilting!

This Newsletter sees the first of our reports on a local quilting group with a modern slant. If your group would like to have a small spot then please email Helen Butcher - or myself , Collette -

Please remember if you use Instagram to use our hashtag #qgbimoderngroup. This is a really easy way for us to find you over there and for you to search for other like minded quilters and connect. You can also use #qgbiregion then your region number, i.e. #qgbiregion16, to find other quilters in your area.

Oh and our Tutor Boxes need you! Any member can design a tutor box and this is a fantastic, affordable, educational resource that any quilting group can use on loan. Please email if you would like to be involved in creating some new sample patterns. They are often just one block or one technique with a modern slant and a little sample made with instructions sent out. CLICK HERE for more info.

Happy quilting!
Collette x

Twin Peaks
TWIN PEAKS Siblings Together Charity Quilt put together by Helen Butcher

QUILT STORIES: Headline News

TWIN PEAKS (aka Trouble & Strife)
by Helen Butcher

Have you ever had a quilt that just wouldn't go right? Well this was one that started out just fine and spiralled out of control. All of my own making - the trouble that is, not the blocks, they were not all of my own making since this was a Siblings Together charity bee quilt. It all started in March this year when it was my turn to be Quilt Mama for that month. The way this particular bee works is that a group of about twenty makers from all over the country, under the aegis of a co-ordinator, take it in turns to set a monthly block that everyone makes to a given size, colour, quantity. The monthly Quilt Mama then collects the blocks together to make a finished quilt. It is a brilliant way of producing a quilt a month without any one person having to quilt more than one quilt a year for the charity. It has been great fun making the blocks that have been set each month - perhaps not one you would ever have chosen to do yourself, but always interesting to learn a new block. Then it was my turn...

What block to choose? My thoughts were that it needed to be a trimmable block; with the best will in the world blocks made by different people on different sewing machines in different places with wildly differing skill levels are not going to turn out all the same size. Since my mind has been running on all things 3-D recently (can't think why!) I decided on the block shown which I called Twin Peaks because you make two identical blocks at a time. (If you would like to have a go at making this block, please see this month's free pattern.) I will hold my hand up and say this is not an original design of mine - I have seen it on the internet - but the instructions and photos were all my own work. It did, however tick all the boxes; 3-D, trimmable, not too complicated and I requested blocks in a restricted colour palette. I worked out how many blocks I would need to make a single bed quilt and divided this roughly between the number of makers requesting two pairs of blocks from everyone. This was my first mistake! I either didn't explain myself clearly enough, or confused everyone with the photo I included - I ended up with twice as many blocks as I needed. No problem - enough to make two quilts then. It was, however, an exciting month. It seemed that every postal delivery brought another little package of blocks, and at the end of the month laying the blocks out was very gratifying. The great thing about having so many different makers is that no two sets of blocks were the same and no fabric appeared twice. I know the world of fabric is vast, but there were so many fabrics coming through that I had never seen, and many of those I wish I had had in my stash. So little time and so many fabrics!

I carefully cut my setting triangles and stitched my diagonal rows together. All going well. I pieced the last, odd, block into the backing and layered the quilt. This, I think, is were I started to go wrong. The backing I chose although 100% cotton, was slightly (only slightly) heavier than stardard quilting weight. Next I chose to use a polyester wadding - not something I would usually do, but the underlying reasoning was sound - these quilts would be going to children in foster care and it would be unfair to expect foster families to cope with any special washing instructions; they were made to be used and loved and washed. The quilt was too big for me to cope with in my tiny work-space, so I borrowed a friend's studio and (fantastic) Juki straight-stitch machine; a machine I am not unfamiliar with, but I just could not get the quilting right! If there was a mistake in the book, I made it: stitches too long (was I pushing the work through?) stitches too short (now I'm holding onto the work!) thread snapping (definately pulling it through too quick) puckering (help! why did I use poly batting?) what's he back like? (best not to look) should I unpick and start again... and so it went on.

I abandoned it twice and swore I would never go back to it the second time - then my conscience smote me. I have been lucky enough to lead a very privileged life. Things may not always have gone to plan, but I have had the advantage of a loving and supportive family, a secure roof over my head, plenty of food (too much!) and freedom of movement. If, by finishing this quilt, I can bring a small feeling of comfort and love into the life of a child who may not have had these chances, or, perhaps worse, has had them cruelly taken away, what is a momentary heartache or discomfort to me compaired to that? So with a gritting of teeth and stiffening of sinews I soldiered on. Although I will admit it is not the best bit of quilting I have ever done, it looked so much better when it had been trimmed and bound. Who knows, in another couple of weeks when it is ready to be sent off to the central collection point I may even be able to send it with feelings of love and a clear conscience.

If you are interested in finding out more about Siblings Togehter please CLICK HEREto visit their website

Twin Peaks
TWIN PEAKS by Helen Butcher

CLICK HERE For the free pattern to make your very own version of Twin Peaks

emmqg pic 1
photos supplied by members of the East Midlands Modern Quilt Group
emmqg pic 2


The East Midands Modern Quilt Group (EMMQG) started in March 2013, when a number of quilters based in the East Midlands wanted to meet like minded people for regular sewing days. We meet monthly (except July and December) on the second Saturday of the month, 10-4 in the Methodist Hall in Bradmore, Nottinghamshire. First meeting is free, as a taster, a small fee payable thereafter. We often sew for charity, or do group projects, and skill sharing, and members projects range from Quilting, to embroidery, dressmaking and more general sewing. All levels warmly welcome from beginner to professional, we love to share our knowledge!

Contact Moira Petrie for further details.

Quilts with a modern slant
Double Vision Quilts

BOOK REVIEW: Double Vision Quilts

Reviewed by Heather Hasthorpe

I had this for Christmas and was intrigued by the back cover which said 'Make dynamic quilts that fool the eye'. I've been mulling my challenge entry for some time as I'm not keen on paper piecing and incredible accuracy for three dimensional effects is tricky to do otherwise.

However this book offers another perspective, creating amazing effects that make you wonder which shapes are in front and which behind. And all done with clever choices of colour and shapes fused and machine stitched.

There are several techniques offered and clear explanations for producing complex designs with circles or ovals. There is a gallery of inspirational quilts and clear instructions for finishing your projects.

sewing machine?

SEWING MACHINES FOR BEGINNERS (and more advanced students!)

by Helen Howes ONGOING SERIES: PART 8 - How to buy a sewing machine, or; This is going to be a marriage, not a fling...

I did something utterly radical (for me) last year, I bought a New sewing machine. Now, most of you will know that I'm a fan of the older machines, and have done much of my work for the last 40-odd years on a straight-stitch-only Singer treadle. And Modern has developed a reputation for old machines - we carry handcranks around with us; they are great talking-points, easy to manage, and need neither a PAT test nor a plug-in-place. But, I'm getting older, like all of us, and some bits of me, like my back, are already pretty much shot. I've been contemplating a new machine for a while, but the ones I meet in classes and the ones I repair every day are not what I was looking for..

I went to Duxford quilt show, and fell head-over-heels for a big Juki. Straight stitches only, with reverse. Nice tools. Big throat. Fast. Mostly metal. What's not to like? And it was, most importantly, from a local supplier and ready to have a go. So I did. Then I got my credit card out and whooppee! A new toy.

Now, when buying a machine, as when buying fabrics, hands-on is the Main Thing. It may well be cheaper from a distant internet supplier, but what happens when it goes wrong? Have you ever packed a machine for the post? Do you really want to store that huge cardboard box? Sometimes machines do go wrong. And being able to get a service is a good idea, too. So, someone local enough to drive to is always a good start. And any shop that sells but does not repair may not be such a good idea. Trust your heart. If the man (it's almost always a man) in the shop is rude, dismissive, or patronising, walk away. If he doesn't let you try a machine with your own fabrics, walk away. If he's in any way unpleasant, run away screaming...

So, go to the shops and the big quilt shows, with fabrics and threads that you plan to use in your work.Try things. Take your time. If anyone is unwilling to let you play, walk away. You wouldn't buy a car without a reasonable test-drive, and you may well spend more time in front of your sewing machine than driving. I know I do. Look at the Book - is it easy to read, in English, with proper images? Is there a website full of good information? Think about what you want to do - for me, there was no desire for 1500 fancy stitches. I wanted big, solid, fast, good feet. Easy needles and bobbins too..

You may well want something quite different. Do you need to carry the thing about with you? A lightweight machine will not be as good as a more substantial one, and a trolley may be a good addition to your kit. If you do a lot of classes and go to groups, you may want to have (at least) two machines. ItŐs a Really Good Idea to have a permanent set-up place for one at home, too. Dining tables are not ideal, as people have this terrible tendency to want to eat on them.

Second-hand? You get a lot more for your money as soon as you start to look at older machines. They tend to be very solid and easy to maintain - after all, that was expected of the user until quite recently. Check a machine runs quietly, that the wiring is clean, complete (no sticky tape!) and that nothing is obviously missing or broken. Many machines are sold as 'not working' when the needle is in the wrong way round...
Don't buy on Ebay unless you can collect.

And, yes, I do own several machines. My big Berninas are now too heavy for me to carry, so they are up for sale. My going-to-workshop machines are now an Elna Lotus and a Frister Rossmann Cub, both solid but small. I bought a big beautiful treadle 216G Singer (with zigzag!) but we don't get on, so I've gone back to an older one. Don't be afraid to leave an unsatisfactory relationship. It's a marriage, not a fling...

Helen Howes

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

Karin Pope
Straight.. or not? by Karin Pope
Sue Tovey
Hexagonal Cube by Sue Tovey
Michaela Knight
Tidy Boxes by Michaela Knight


Looking forward seeing your entries for this year's challenge for all things that fool the eye.

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

bloomfield coverlet
The Edwin Mary Bloomfield Coverlet, The Quilters' Guild Collection


Here's something for you to think about! Next year's challenge is a joint challenge throughout all the Specialist Groups of the Quilters' Guild and entrants will have to chance to have their work exhibited at 2019 Festival of Quilts. We are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Quilters' Guild and are looking for Modern interpretations of a historical quilt from the Guild's collection (please see above).

Here at Modern we will be aiming for our 20 x 20 inch format inspired by the original coverlet, it's history, story, design or construction.

CLICK HERE to go to the Guild Website and read more about the coverlet.

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