Thursday, October 1, 2020

Big Fun Mystery Sew Along: Month Two

Here we are, already at Month Two of the Big Fun Mystery Sew Along! Have you tried the curvy blocks from last month? This month features two more blocks, this time with a theme of "stripes" and a focus on strip piecing.

What is the Big Fun Mystery Sew Along? Check out last month's post for an overview and more information. Most importantly, the idea is to have fun. Keep it simple or challenge yourself. Make one or both of the blocks introduced each month, or let them inspire you to create a variation of your own. Play with color and proportion. Let yourself enjoy the process without a firm plan. Share your work and be inspired by others.

Don't forget to share your progress! Post photos of your blocks on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #chicagomqgsewalong and #BFMSAL.


MONTH 2 BLOCKS: STRIPES


Quilter's Flag, 13" x 10" finished (left), and Walk This Way, 7" x 10" finished (right)

Notes from Bill about the Quilter's Flag block:
  • This one is stripey. It will show you if your 1/4” seam is accurate, but it doesn’t matter because the block can finish at any size you desire. You may wish to make the stripes wider than I did -- you can make them any width you'd like. I used three fabrics with the goal of producing a transparency or overlay effect. Pretend the white is the background, the red is the foreground, and the blue is in between.
  • I used 1” strips for all my fabrics. They end up at 1/2” and have half the fabric in the seam allowances. There are several options for pressing the seams; experiment to see what works for you. There are other ways to piece this as well, but I wanted the blue to have a straight edge for the illusion.
  • You could make several blocks to create an illusion between them with a blue block “between” the red and white “layers”. This block is a good practice piece to show how accurate your 1/4” seam really is. If you follow the pattern, each pair of strips should measure 1”, and the whole block should be 13-1/2” wide.  Mine was wider, telling me that my 1/4” seam is too scant. You can see the spaces (third photo below) showing the red under the white and the blue under the red. It could also be that my 1” strips were cut a bit wide. Or that my fabric edges were not perfectly lined up when I sewed the seams. The main takeaway is that it doesn’t matter, the block can be whatever size you want.

Quilter's Flag cutting instructions:

From white:      Cut (4) 1” strips by the width of fabric (WOF)
From red:         Cut (7) 1" strips by WOF
From blue:      Cut (3) 1” strips by WOF

Quilter's Flag piecing instructions:

MAKE THE BLOCK:

    1. Sew a red strip to a white strip along the long edges. Make three more. Sew the remaining red strips to the blue strips the same way.  Press all strips, taking care to keep them straight. Bill pressed the red/white strips to the red and the blue/red to the blue.


    2. Sew the pieced red/white strips together to make a wider strip set, press the seams to the same color.  Do the same with the blue/red strips.
    3. Take the blue/red strip set and cut across the seams to make (3) 6” wide blocks. Sew these together as before. You should have a blue/red panel about 6” x 9-1/2”, and some left over strip set to use elsewhere in the quilt. Trim to 5-1/2” wide.


    4. With the white/red strip set, cut across the seams to make (3) 6” wide blocks. Sew them together as before. Trim to 5-1/2” wide. Sew the 5-1/2" wide white/red panel to the 5-1/2" wide blue/red panel, aligning the red stripes. Bill pressed this seam open. (Yes, there is a bit of extra white/red panel, just unpick it and save for a rainy day.)


    5. Cut the remaining red/white strip set to 11” and sew to one end of the joined blue/red/white panel, then trim to 10-1/2" to complete the block.  A bit of starch will help keep it flat.


Block measures 13-1/2” x 10-1/2” unfinished.

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Notes from Amy about the Walk This Way block:
  • I wanted to name this block "Crosswalk", but when I googled that I found another very similar block by the same name. So "Walk This Way" it is. I'll just go ahead now and apologize for putting that song in your head. Or maybe that's not entirely a bad thing?
  • This block can be altered in so many different ways for so many different effects. Leave off one border (or both) and lengthen it by sewing many sections together to create a border block. Or make it asymmetrical by varying the widths of the two border strips. Maybe widen the center strips to create a more horizontal block. Or reverse the foreground and background hues. There are so many possibilities.
  • Like the Quilter's Flag block, this one is also a good one for checking the accuracy of your seam allowance. I ended up with a slightly longer than 10-1/2" panel after sewing my strip sets together. My scant 1/4" seam allowance is perhaps a little too scant. That's why I'm suggesting that you cut 11" long strips for the side borders -- a half inch more than is needed if your seams are perfect. That way you have a little surplus in case you need it, and you can trim any extra.

Walk This Way cutting instructions:

From cream:      Cut (1) 15" x 2" strip
                         Cut (2) 11" x 2-1/2" strips
From teal:          Cut (1) 15" x 1-1/2" strip

Walk This Way piecing instructions:

MAKE THE BLOCK:
  1. Sew the 2" wide cream strip to the teal strip along the long edges. Press seam, and then trim across the seam to make (4) 3-1/2" wide strip sets. (You'll have a little left over that you won't need.)
  2. Sew the (4) 3-1/2" wide strip sets together, to create the center 3-1/2" x 10-1/2" striped panel.
  3. Sew one 11" strip to each side of the center panel, then trim as needed to square up the top and bottom of the block.

Block measures 7-1/2” x 10-1/2” unfinished.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Big Fun Mystery Sew Along: Month One

Are you up for some quilting fun? Welcome to the first month of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild's Big Fun Mystery Sew Along!

What is the Big Fun Mystery Sew Along? The short answer is that it's a way to sew along with others, creating the same (or similar) quilt blocks. Along the way, you may learn some new skills, experiment with your own unique layout or quilt design, and, hopefully, have fun. Here are some other things to know about the BFMSAL:
  • Along the lines of a Block of the Month club, we'll introduce two different blocks each month, both focusing on a specific skill, technique, or shape. One block might be pretty basic and the other more challenging. Or each might use a different piecing method. We're figuring this out as we go (which is part of the reason it's a "mystery"!), but the idea is to have some variety. You can choose to make one or both blocks... or variations of your own. The first month's focus is curves!
  • There will be no set quilt pattern and we encourage you to just start, without a set plan. Choose a color palette to stick to, or use scraps from your cutting table (see notes on color below). We encourage you to experiment and let your own quilt design evolve. We'd love for every quilt to be unique to its maker. If you'd rather have more direction, no worries! Block layouts will be suggested later in the process for inspiration and ideas, or simply to follow. And feel free to change your mind and go in a different direction at any point along the way.
  • We'll try to incorporate different skills and techniques throughout the year.
  • The blocks will be varied in size and pattern. Most blocks will be easy to alter, resize, or reconfigure. Some will be simple and easy to repeat in a row. They will allow you to create a sampler quilt or a medallion. Or a wall hanging, table runner, or batch of throw pillows. The final size is whatever you want, and you determine when it's done.
  • At the end of the process, you may end up with some blocks that you feel don't "fit" in your quilt, or they're just not your "style". These can still be used for good! You can donate any extra blocks at the end, and we'll use them to make one or more charity quilts.
  • There's no need to sign up, and you can participate as little or as much as you wish. We hope you'll be inspired and will have fun sewing along!
The timeline: We plan to introduce new blocks at the beginning of each month through June of 2021. This will give you the possibility of making 20 different blocks, plus endless variations. Along the way, we'll show some layout and design suggestions and ideas. Then, the next few months will focus on finalizing a layout and adding blocks and fillers as needed, as well as piecing, quilting, and binding. By November of 2021, we'll organize a show and tell of all the amazing Big Fun Mystery quilts, in their many variations of size and scope.

Share your progress! Post photos of your blocks on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #chicagomqgsewalong and #BFMSAL.

Some thoughts about color (Don't let it get in the way!): For these first two blocks (or all of them, really!), feel free to use your scraps. If this is uncomfortable for you, then pull some fabrics to start -- maybe just a few colors that you can build on later. Or choose an entire palette if that makes you happy, but allow yourself to change your mind as you go. If you want to pull a palette, but are stuck, you could start with a favorite print and use that to guide some color choices. Or if you have an orphan block sitting around that you'd like to incorporate into the final quilt, you could use the colors in that as a starting point for fabric choices.

MONTH 1 BLOCKS: CURVES


Drunk Combo, 12" x 12" finished (left), and Mid-Century Drunk, 4" x 8" finished (right)

**Check out this tutorial for sewing drunkard's path blocks with one pin, this one for using lots of pins, or this one that uses no pins at all, or these troubleshooting tips, if you're looking for more guidance or a refresher on sewing curves.**

Drunk Combo cutting instructions:

Print Drunk Combo templates at full size -- do not fit to page.

From red:          Cut (4) from Template A        
                        Cut (4) from Template B
From gray: Cut (4) from Template B
From white: Cut (4) from Template A
                        Cut (2) from Template C
From blue: Cut (2) from Template D

Drunk Combo piecing instructions:

MAKE THE LARGER CURVED UNITS:
  1. Find the center of one white Template C piece and one blue Template D piece by folding them in half diagonally and lightly finger pressing.
  2. Sew the two pieces together using your favorite method for joining curved pieces. Press seam to one side.
  3. Repeat with another set of one white Template C piece and one blue Template D piece.
MAKE THE SMALLER CURVED UNITS:
  1. Find the center of one red Template A piece and one gray Template B piece by folding them in half diagonally and lightly finger pressing.
  2. Sew the two pieces together using your favorite method for joining curved pieces. Press seam to one side. Check out this tutorial, or this one, if you’re new to sewing curves, or simply want a refresher.
  3. Repeat with another set of one red Template A piece and one gray Template B piece; then with two sets of cream Template A and red Template B.
  4. Lay out the four completed drunkard’s path units as shown below.
  5. Place the units right sides together and sew to form two rows, then sew the two rows together to create one quadrant of the Drunk Combo block.
  6. Repeat Steps 1-5 to create a second quadrant.

ASSEMBLE THE BLOCK:
  1. Lay out the four finished units as shown below.
  2. Place the units right sides together and sew to form two rows, then sew the two rows together to create the finished Drunk Combo block.

Block measures 12-1/2” x 12-1/2” unfinished.

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Mid-Century Drunk cutting instructions:

Print Mid-Century Drunk templates at full size -- do not fit to page.

From gray:             Cut (1) from Template A        
From wasabi:      Cut (1) from Template B

Mid-Century Drunk piecing instructions:

MAKE THE CURVED UNIT:
  1. Optional: Find the center of the curve of the gray Template A piece and the wasabi Template B piece by using the marks on the templates to fold diagonally across the curve and lightly finger press. If this seems too tricky (or unnecessary), just skip to Step 2.
  2. Beginning from the short side of the curve, sew the two pieces together using your favorite method for joining curved pieces. Press seam to one side. 
  3. Repeat with more sets of Template A and Template B pieces, if desired, to create one of the block suggestions below, or an arrangement of your own creation.
A single block measures 4-1/2” x 8-1/2” unfinished. A block of four as shown below measures 8-1/2" x 16-1/2" unfinished.


We stitched up these sample blocks using this month's patterns. We can't wait to see your versions!



Friday, August 28, 2020

August Meeting Recap

Our August meeting featured guest artist Sarah Nishiura's wonderful lecture "Looking to the Stars." Sarah talked about comets in the sky and in quilts; solar system and Lakota star quilts; and a fabulous "how to" on the geometry that can be used to create stars. Some highlights were the rich story quilts of Harriet Powers, works by Harriet Miller Carpenter, the significance of star quilts in certain American Indian cultures, and Ellen Harding Baker's study of the solar system in stunning visual form (shown below).


Sarah showed how equal divisions of a circle can be used to create multi-pointed stars, and shared a diagram of how to create a perfect five-pointed "Betsy Ross" star by folding and cutting a standard piece of paper. She encouraged us, as quilters, to not "let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” as we allow for imperfections and the beauty in them.


GUILD ANNOUNCEMENTS:

MQG news: QuiltCon Together 2021 registration is still open and the QuiltCon quilting and fabric challenges have been introduced.

QuiltCon Community Outreach Challenge: Julia revealed the design for our guild's quilt, which will celebrate Chicago musicians. We are looking for volunteers to make twenty "vinyl records" from sets of drunkard's path blocks (see image below), then to embroider the record "labels" with the names of different Chicago artists and records or songs. Look for information in your email inbox on signing up to contribute by piecing a block, embroidering, providing long arm quilting services, or attaching the binding.


New guild-wide quilt along:  Bill Keller and Amy Struckmeyer introduced their concept for a Big Fun Mystery Sew Along that will begin at the start of September. We'll feature instructions on the blog to create two different blocks each month with a focus on a specific skill, technique, or shape. First up will be curves! There's no need to sign up and you can participate as little or as much as you wish. There will be no set quilt pattern and we encourage you to experiment and create your own unique design. If you'd rather have more direction, no worries! Block layouts will be suggested later in the process for inspiration and ideas, or simply to follow if you prefer. A little bit block-of-the-month and a little bit skill builder, you can choose to make a mini, a medallion, or anything in between. Choose your own color palette, or use the scraps on your cutting table, and feel free to change your mind at any point along the way. We hope you'll enjoy sewing along with other members and perhaps learn something new in the process!

Modern Quilt Bee: Follow along with the progress of the #chimodbee on Instagram. And please reach out if you'd like to be part of a future bee!

Anniversary quilt challenge: A due date has been set for the Chicago MQG 10th Anniversary Mini Quilt Challenge. Please have quilts completed by our October 18 meeting so that we can prepare for a fabulous virtual quilt show at the end of the year. Tag your photos and follow along on social media with #chicagomqg10yearmini.

Star Stitches: We hope you're enjoying this way of recognizing members for achievements and triumphs both large and small -- not just quilting related. Each month you can submit your friends' achievements (or your own) for announcement and celebration at the upcoming meeting. Look for a link in each month's member newsletter.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Saturday, September 19: "Stash Jazz Quilt — Stash Buster Improv Fun" virtual workshop with Carole Lyles Shaw, 9:30am-3:30pm. Use your stash, scraps, and orphan blocks to create a fun improvisational quilt, with Carole as your guide. Workshop details are in this blog post. A few spots remain and are open for members and guests -- sign up here.

Sunday, September 20, 2:00-5:00: Virtual lecture and trunk show "My Journey to Modern Quilting" with guest speaker, Carole Lyles Shaw. Carole is a modern quilt designer, author, and teacher who has been creating quilts for over 20 years. The lecture is free for members and $10 for guests. Check out Carole's work at carolelylesshaw.com. Sign up for the lecture here.

Sunday, October 18, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Quilt Photography. We're looking for members with quilt photography experience and tips to share. If you are interested in contributing to the meeting, please let us know.

Sunday, November 15, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Holiday Swap Demos. Members will share tips and how-to's for quick sewn or quilted projects that would be great to make for our annual holiday gift swap.

All meetings are 2-5 pm on the third Sunday of the month, unless otherwise noted.

Next month's meeting is on September 20, via Zoom. (Look for a link in our member newsletter, the Full Bobbin.)

Meeting location:

Rush Oak Park Hospital 
Centennial Room 
520 S. Maple Ave Oak Park, Il 60304 

A list of our meetings can be found here.

Not a member, but would like to be? Click the button below to join our Guild!

We hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Join us Sunday, August 16, for a Special Lecture from Sarah Nishiura

The Chicago MQG is delighted to host special guest Sarah Nishiura for a lecture "Looking to the Stars" during our meeting on Sunday, August 16! This lecture is free for members and $10 for guests.

For as long as quilters have been making quilts, they have been filling them with stars. Not only do stars present dazzling design possibilities, they are part of the language that quilters have used to to express their feelings about the universe and their place in it. This lecture will explore the star in quilters’ imaginations, consider the cultural significance of the star, look at various traditional star patterns, and while we’re at it, we will dig into the geometry of stars and think about how to create our own patterns.
In preparation for this lecture, Sarah strongly recommends watching this YouTube video of Faith Ringgold reading her wonderful story Tar Beach.


Sarah Nishiura is a Chicago based quiltmaker who utilizes traditional techniques to craft quilts out of recycled and vintage materials. Inspired by numerous textile traditions including 19th and early 20th century American Quilts, Sarah's work explores and celebrates the infinite possibilities of geometric design. Her quilts have been exhibited in museums and galleries in the U.S. and abroad including the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and the Yokohama Quilt Fest in Japan. Her quilts have been featured in numerous magazines and blogs including Martha Stewart Living, Chicago Magazine, and Food and Wine, and they are included in private, corporate, and public art collections throughout the United States. In 2019 Sarah received an Illinois Arts Council Finalist Award for Craft.  Sarah has an MFA in painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a BA in visual arts from Brown University.

More information about Sarah's studio practice can be found at her website.

This special meeting will be held at our regular time, starting at 2pm, via Zoom. We will begin with general guild announcements, and have time for show and tell towards the end, so bring your latest finishes to share with the group!

All meetings are 2-5 pm on the third Sunday of the month, unless otherwise noted.

This month's meeting is on August 16, via Zoom. (Look for a link in our member newsletter, the Full Bobbin.)

Meeting location:

Rush Oak Park Hospital 
Centennial Room 
520 S. Maple Ave Oak Park, Il 60304 

A list of our meetings can be found here.

Not a member, but would like to be? Click the button below to join our Guild!

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

July Meeting Recap

Our July meeting featured hand quilting demos, the presentation of a very special award, general announcements, and Show and Tell, all via Zoom meeting. 

Members Andrea DiOrio (below left) and Heather Kinion (below right) shared techniques and tips for quilting with both small and big stitches. Their demos included close up camera views so we could really see how they work – something that might have been harder to do in a big in-person meeting.
First Andrea showed us her method for traditional hand quilting, using small needles and skinny thread. She shared her favorite tools (needles, thread and thimbles), then started her demo with a "quilter's knot" how-to. She suggests practicing until your stitches and the spaces in between are the same length. She usually quilts in a hoop made for quilting, and recommends a single, short length of thread. Check out Andrea's notes for resources and tips.

Then Heather demonstrated big stitch quilting. She showed us a different technique to make a quilter's knot. And, although she uses thicker thread (she prefers pearle cotton or Aurifil 12 wt.) and bigger needles (she likes Clover brand sashiko or chenille needles), she has the same goal of achieving stitches that are the same size as the spaces in between. For even more visible stitches, she says go ahead and double up the thread – since the reason for big stitches is to see them!

GUILD ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Half Square Helper of 2020: Arguably the most important announcement of the day was the presentation of a very special surprise award to longtime guild member Holly Harper! Holly has been volunteering for the CMQG for years. Several members spoke of their appreciation for her, sharing some of the following sentiments: She selflessly helps out whenever needed, and is often one of the first friendly faces to greet new members and attendees. For many years running she has hosted our annual Member Trunk Show, carefully selecting members with a range of styles and experience – this meeting is always a treat and a favorite meeting of many! Holly is often caught enabling new projects and fabric purchases, she is playlist-ready at retreats, and is a cheerleader to all! We are beyond lucky to have her in our guild.
A huge thank you to Julia Bryant for creating the beautiful Half Square Helper award ribbon for the first of what we hope will be an annual tribute to members for giving their time and talents to our guild.

Star Stitches: Jenni introduced this new positive and uplifting program in support of our CMQG community. Each month, members can submit their friends' life, or quilting, achievements (or their own) for announcement at the upcoming meeting. Jenni shared the first month's encouraging Star Stitches during the meeting announcements.
MQG news: QuiltCon Together 2021 registration opened July 15th for members, and the MQG recieved more registrations on opening day than ever before. There are still spots available in workshops and lectures. Also, don't forget to check out the MQG website and it's many resources. Your membership in the Chicago guild gives you all the benefits of MQG membership as well.

QuiltCon Community Outreach Challenge: A plan for this quilt is in progress and will be revealed soon! Look for information on how to contribute by making a block, providing long arm quilting services, or attaching the binding in the guild newsletter. The theme is curves, the color palette includes blues and oranges (see below), and fabric will be provided to anyone helping to piece the top. We haven't yet selected a charity for the quilt, and welcome any suggestions.
The Chicago MQG anniversary book: Modern Quilts in the Second City: Ten Years of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is ready to go to press and almost complete!

Annual member survey: If you haven't yet, please fill out the survey and let us know what you think, what you want, how things are working for you. And thank you to everyone who's already responded! Your responses are so helpful to us as we determine how to move forward. There are coupons and prizes for those who completed the survey by July 24. There's a link to the survey last month's Full Bobbin.

Membership update: There are many benefits to membership: QuiltCon early registration access, all the resources on the MQG website, access to our online meetings. The board is energized to provide community and access to make the best of the pandemic. Being a member creates a pool of resources to provide the community space. We currently have 110 members. Don't forget to invite your friends to a meeting! The first meeting is free for guests. Simply contact us for a meeting link. Find out more about membership and guest fees here.

Do you have ideas for blog content? We would LOVE your input! Please include any suggestions in the member survey, or reach out to us via email.

Anniversary quilt challenge: We don't know yet when our tenth anniversary celebration will take place, but we're excited to see your mini quilts! A timeline will be announced next month for the Chicago MQG 10th Anniversary Mini Quilt Challenge, and we’ll do a virtual quilt show at the end. Start your work – we can't wait to see what you create!  #ChicagoMQG10YearMini

UPCOMING EVENTS:

August 16, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom, featuring newly added guest speaker, Sarah Nishiura, a Chicago based quiltmaker and artist, who will be talking about the prevalence and significance of stars in quilts.

September 19 and 20, virtual workshop and lecture with guest speaker/teacher, Carole Lyles Shaw. Find out more here.

October 18, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Quilt Photography. We're looking for members with quilt photography experience and tips to share. If you are interested in contributing to the meeting, please let us know.

All meetings are 2-5 pm on the third Sunday of the month, unless otherwise noted.

This month's meeting is on August 16, via Zoom. (Look for a link in our member newsletter, the Full Bobbin.)

Meeting location:

Rush Oak Park Hospital 
Centennial Room 
520 S. Maple Ave Oak Park, Il 60304 

A list of our meetings can be found here.

Not a member, but would like to be? Click the button below to join our Guild!

We hope to see you there!