Modern Quilt Group - Newsletter November 2016

New Editor!

Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group Newsletter.

Let me take a moment to introduce myself - my name is Helen Butcher (generally known as HB) and I may already have had the pleasure of meeting you in person if you visited Festival of Quilts this year.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself on the ModQ Group stand at the NEC, greeting new and existing members with a big smile, free gifts and group challenge information, as well as answering the eternal question - What is the difference between Modern and Contemporary?

I have taken over editorship of this web-publication from Helen Howes (HH) after a brief tussle (I arm-wrestled her for it, but she fights dirty).
As Group co-ordinator HH has far too much on her plate, which is why previous communications have been somewhat sporadic - hopefully this will all change now!
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
The newsletter will be stored online as before, but will come out to you in future as a Mailchimp publication, which is easier to manage and should be kinder to your email inbox...

Modern Quilts at West Country Quilt Show

Huge thanks to our Co-ordinator Helen Howes who transported and set up a most successful Modern Group exhibition at the UWE in Bristol. With Lucy Polonieka's expert eye, 45 small Black & White and 1 (other colour) quilts were arranged in a veritable rainbow, sweeping round the white walls and causing unsuspecting visitors to catch their breath.

Everyone wanted a closer look and the voting system for visitors choice was brisk. We were complimented frequently on the wonderful quality of the work and the amazing variety of techniques shown: this is a great collection and deserves to be widely shown. Many congratulations to everyone who sent in work as you have encouraged and inspired new people to join us. Thanks too to Alison Mayall who came to chat to people on the demonstration stand and enabled me to take a most interesting printing class with Kate Andre.

The West Country Show is a relatively new venture, having been running for six years now and the Modern Group were invited again after our successful exhibit last year. There are galleries showing all kinds of textiles and lots of Contemporary work, but nothing with the accessibility of Modern Quilts.

Report by Heather Hasthorpe

All online HERE and the Winner of Visitor's Choice was


Vicki Dorey's delightful daisies... - well done Vicki

Festival of Quilts

(by your harrassed co-ordinator HH)

Well, I spent all Winter saying "make a category" to the bods at Twisted Thread, and they spent all Winter saying "no"..
When I got the Competition forms and saw that we had actually got a Category of our very own, I was overjoyed.. I would have been even more overjoyed had I had a bit more notice.. When we got to the show and discovered just how many and how good the 70 or so quilts were, I was soooo delighted. I'm told that no category has ever started this well...

The winner was well-deserved - congratulations to Sarah Humphreys, who writes

Creating Office Doodle 1 - Sarah Humphreys

When I discovered there was going to be a Modern category at Festival of Quilts 2016, I knew I had to make a quilt for the competition. I love the modern aesthetic and hoped a good turnout of quilts would help secure the category's future at the show. I was thrilled, not to mention extremely surprised to be awarded first place and agreed to write about how I created my quilt.

My design processes are functional rather than pretty. I use conscious and sub-conscious doodling extensively to generate and develop ideas and so in April started doodling with Festival in mind. Much of my doodling is done at work - on the phone, in meetings or just waiting for my computer to fire up - and this quilt is based on a doodle from my office jotter.

Once I had chosen a doodle, I transferred it to the computer (using Word) and experimented with colours, settling on orange and purple. This is the original computer sketch.

Generally, when quilt making, my initial design evolves as I think through construction. This quilt was no different but I also had to consider the parameters of the modern category. Once I had my sketch, I re-visited the competition guidelines which stated:

For quilts that are functional, minimalist and inspired by modern design. Bold colours and modern prints may be used, as well as areas of neutral colour to provide 'negative space'. Modern quilts often use asymmetry in design, improvisational piecing, the re-interpretation of traditional blocks or the lack of visible block structure. They are generally simply quilted with lines of stitching or grid patterns.

So, straight away my quilt design met some of these criteria - minimalist, bold colours, asymmetrical and no visible block structure. I knew my quilt would be functional - I wanted a large bed quilt so it couldn't be anything else. I moved on to consideration of the negative space, coupled with thoughts on construction. My first plan was a plain background with appliqued shapes but quickly discounted that as the scale of the quilt would make it difficult to get a good result. Pondering for a few days lead me to think about the 'low volume' fabrics which are so popular in modern quilting - I decided piecing the quilt would make construction easier and also create interest across the quilt. I printed off several sheets of squared paper and started to plan how I could fit my quilt into a square grid - here are a couple of examples, showing how the quilt changes slightly every time I do this.

Plan in hand, it was time to go shopping. One of my local quilt shops is Simply Solids at Huddersfield who specialise in modern fabrics. I spent a long time in the shop choosing just the right fabrics to suit my design as well as the 'modern prints' aspect of the category criteria.
Palette chosen, I could crack on with the cutting out, requiring the drawing of another plan - this time some rudimentary maths for the cutting of squares!

As stated previously, my quilts change and develop as I construct them. I decided that the purple 'blobs' on the left of my design would not easily fit into the grid so left these off to applique later. After cutting, I laid out the squares according to the plan, and tweaked the design further to improve the balance of the shapes.

I then started stitching. I sewed a row at a time, creating Drunkards' Path templates for the curves as I went. I also ordered my threads for quilting at this stage - again a combination of design and functionality went into my choice. I wanted the quilting to complement but not overpower the quilt, choosing 50 weight cotton for a matt finish. A huge order for Superior Threads Masterpiece in about every shade of purple and orange went in to Barnyarns, along with corresponding Bottom Line colours (bobbin fill).

In choosing the quilting, I referred again to the competition guidelines - generally simply quilted with lines of stitching or grid patterns - here I had to compromise. I really, really love to quilt. I use a Janome Horizon; a domestic machine with a large work area. Simple quilting is not really my thing, so my compromise was the straight 'matchstick' quilting on the dark orange shapes (in four different shades), contrasted with extensive free motion bubbles, swirls and waves everywhere else. I was careful to keep the density of quilting even across the quilt.

Quilting complete, I auditioned the placing of the pale purple blobs intended for the left side of the quilt. They looked awful, yet without them the quilt looked unfinished. I decided to lose the pale purple altogether and after playing with layout opted to scatter blobs of existing fabrics across the quilt. The final decision was the binding - I felt a 'frame' would look wrong, so opted for binding to match the piecing. There are just two tiny spots of colour which highlight the fact that the binding matches everywhere else.

I hope you've found this interesting and you can see how my design developed over the making of this quilt. Most of my work is about balancing different factors. To begin with I was making a quilt for the show - but I also wanted a quilt that I would use (my husband loves it, very much his style). I started with a drawn design, but this was modified by practical considerations. I very much enjoy the quilt evolving as I create it.

If you have any questions or comments about my quilt, please do email me -

Thanks for reading - more very soooon, I promise

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