Wednesday, January 19, 2022

June Meeting Recap

Our June 2021 meeting was really exciting for our guild. We met in-person for the first time since February 2020 for an outdoor Sew-In + Social + Swap! And, although it was classified as a sew-in, we're not sure anyone did much actual sewing because we were all so busy catching up.

The Chicago MQG, together again!

We had a huge swap table, with scraps, yardage, patterns, books, painter's canvas, coloring books, and so much more. There was a collection box for fabric which was later donated to the Social Justice Sewing Academy. We had announcements and then an amazing 'show-and-tell.' It was fantastic to see so many beautiful and creative quilts live and in person. You can see just a handful of those delightful works below.

Show-and-Tell photos by Holly Harper.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

May Meeting Recap

Our May "Tote-a-palooza" meeting* was all about constructing bags, specifically tote bags, with four guild members presenting on different aspects of bag making. We love learning from our own members - we're grateful for their time and willingness to share their knowledge and experience!

*No, you didn't read that wrong. I know May was many months prior, but we're making an effort to catch up with these meeting recaps to share useful information and tools, and as a record of our programming. More to come!

First, Amy Struckmeyer talked about the overall structure of a tote: outer shell + straps/handles (then options such as interfacing, lining, pockets, closures, and hardware). She then followed with some examples/inspiration, and instructions for making a simple bag.

For a tote that fits your needs, Amy suggested customizing a pattern or making your own. If you're a beginner, you may want to follow a pattern with slight modifications based on your preferences/needs.  

Things to consider when choosing or creating a tote pattern/design:
  • Purpose: this can help you decide which substrate (fabric type) to use, and if a stabilizer/interfacing is necessary
  • Proportion: How will you carry it? What do you want to carry in it?
  • Appearance: Look at bags you already own – what do you like, what do you hate?

Amy's basic [quilted patchwork] tote construction recommendations:
  • Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance for durability.
  • Match interfacing to substrate and intended use (ex. Pellon SF101 for quilting cotton).
  • Add pockets, zippers, snaps etc. before sewing the whole thing together.
  • Reinforce the straps if making your own, or use cotton or nylon webbing, or leather.
  • Add extra height and width to account for boxed corners.
  • Think about how the patterns of the front and back panels will match up when you join them together, and how close to the edge your focal image is – you don’t want to cut off points with that 1/2 inch seam. 
  • Make the front and back panels. Layer them on quilt batting (no need for a backing, but you can add interfacing if you want more body to your bag). Quilt as desired, then trim/square edges. Sew together to make outer bag shell.
  • Make a lining of the same size. Use the same or a slightly larger (5/8 inch) seam allowance.
  • Leave a gap (in the lining, or later at the top between outer shell and lining) for turning at the very end.
  • Baste the handles to the outer shell before sewing lining to shell.
  • Turn the lining inside out, place the shell inside (so right sides are together), then sew together along the top, reinforcing at the straps.
  • Turn right side out using the gap, then stitch gap closed.
View a pdf version of Amy's "Anatomy of a Tote Bag" slideshow for more detailed information and inspiration.

Second, Stephanie Socha presented different types of stabilizers and interfacing for bag making, as well as possible alternatives fabrics and creative substrates to use.

Stephanie's suggested stabilizer/interfacing options:
  • Fusible interfacing: medium-weight non-woven fusible, or 100% cotton woven fusible (such as Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex, or Bosal 300 Woven Fusible Interfacing) can be used on the lining or the outer shell fabric.
  • Foam stabilizer: can be used on the exterior pieces to give structure. Products include ByAnnie's Soft and Stable (100% polyester foam - better than polyurethane for durability - available in white or black); Pellon Flex-Foam F77 (polyurethane foam – make sure you get the kind that has knit fabric on the outside); and Bosal In-R-Form Sew In Foam Stabilizer.
  • Extra firm non-woven interfacing: usually used for bag bottom panels. One product is Pellon Peltex 71F, which can be used in addition to foam stabilizer for extra durability. (Tip: cut this interfacing smaller to leave room for the seam allowance – don’t sew through the firm stabilizer.)
  • Fusible fleece: gives soft structure to a bag. Thermolam Plus TP971F is a popular product.
She also discussed fun fabric alternatives for bag making: cork, faux leather, needlepoint panels, faux fur, repurposed textiles of all sorts, waxed canvas/linen/cotton, and more.

Find links to all of these resources and more in this reference document Stephanie shared with us.

Next, Emily Lang demonstrated two different methods for making boxed corners.

The square method: Start with a bag shell or lining (front and back panels) that has been sewn together and still inside out. Cut a square (typically 2” + seam allowance) from the sewn lines on both bottom corners. Then match the side seams (nesting them together) and sew that unsewn edge closed – this makes the box.

The triangle method: With the bag shell or lining inside out, nest the side seams together and, using a clear acrylic ruler, measure a determined length from the point (or some instructions say to locate a specific measurement across the triangle). Draw the line, sew along it, then trim the excess triangle off.

Other advice from Emily: 
  • YouTube is your friend! Search to find videos on how to make bags, pockets, zippers etc.   
  • Look for tutorials from the bag pattern author as well.

Finally, Sara Hockhauser showed us her method for making sturdy bag straps.

Sara's method for a bag strap with a good weight – sturdy, but not bulky, once you sew the edges down:
  • Start with a fabric piece that is four times the desired finished width of the strap.
  • Cut two lengths of fusible fleece batting to slightly less than the finished strap width
  • Fuse to both outer edges, turn to the middle and then fold again. This will create a strap with four layers of fabric, and two layers of batting.
  • Edge stitch along both sides.
For a few of our favorite pattern designers and bags, pocket-making tutorials, and more, we've compiled this list of links and resources.

Friday, September 17, 2021

New Programming for September: Audrey Esarey of Cotton and Bourbon!

The Chicago MQG is over the moon excited to welcome Audrey Esarey (aka Cotton and Bourbon) to our guild THIS SUNDAY for a virtual lecture at our September meeting!

Audrey is an amazing modern quilter and pattern designer whose work has been exhibited around the world. She lives in Kentucky (Get those bourbon vibes now?) and identifies as a lifelong maker and sewist. She began quilting in 2005. After setting a goal to exhibit her quilts in a juried show, she has had multiple quilts honored with awards at QuiltCon, and recently won the Young Emerging Artist Award at Quilt National ‘21 for her piece Watercolor Study No. 7. She shares her creative process online at and on her Instagram.

On Sunday September 19, Audrey will present her lecture “Finding My Voice in Modern Quilting” via Zoom as part of our regular guild meeting. We'll start as usual at 2pm CDT with a few guild announcements, and wrap the meeting up by 5pm with time for Show & Tell.

Lecture: Finding My Voice in Modern Quilting 

She'll focus on her path to becoming a modern quilter and how she's applied many traditional techniques in her modern quilts. She'll discuss the progression of her work and show her Radial Quilts, Watercolor Quilts, and a few others too! She'll share information on design inspiration, favorite artists, and discuss some quilting highs and lows along her journey.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Chicago MQG welcomes Giucy Giuce in September

We are excited to welcome Giuseppe Ribaudo (aka Giucy Giuce) to our guild in September for a LIVE IN-PERSON workshop and a virtual lecture! Giuseppe grew up in Long Island, NY. First generation Sicilian-American on his dad’s side and second on his mom’s, his family lived on the bottom floor of his maternal grandparents’ house. His grandmother is a talented and prolific seamstress who taught him to sew at an early age, though it wasn’t until he was in college that he discovered quilting. He joined Instagram shortly thereafter and quickly found himself making long distance friends in the quilting community via social media.

After having bounced around the country for about a decade he decided to move back to New York to pursue a career in textiles. Within a few months of being in NYC he was offered a marketing position at Andover Fabrics and was promoted to multimedia manager a year later. In 2018, he turned his focus to  fabric design and released his first collection Quantum. In 2021 he will release his tenth collection called "Nonna," an homage to his grandmother and her home where he learned to sew.  

Recently he relocated to Portland, Maine where he continues to design fabric and patterns and teach quilting classes.

TINY PIECING WORKSHOP: Bust out your scrap bin and join Giuseppe Ribaudo of Giucy Giuce as he shows you how to make intricate and beautiful tiny blocks! You’ll learn tips and tricks for creating micro quilt blocks using foundation paper piecing. Giuseppe will share his thoughts on the importance of choosing the right fabrics and all the many ways the blocks can been used for bags, quilts, and more!

The workshop will run from 9am to 5pm with a break for lunch. Bring your own lunch or purchase from nearby restaurants. No food may be consumed in the space, but there is a public park nearby and a grassy area in the schoolyard across the street. Masks will be required the entire time in the space. 

The workshop will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration opens Thursday, August 12 at 7pm CDT. All current members will receive an email with the sign-up link. If spaces are still available, registration will open to non-members at a later date.

When: Saturday, September 11, 2021, from 9am-5pm CDT, with a break for lunch.
Registration Fee: $75 (includes three patterns you will receive during the class)
Location: Oakton Community College, 7701 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL 60077
[PLEASE NOTE: This location has been changed/updated from the original post.]

Due to the short time between registration and the workshop, no refunds will be issued. The board reserves the right to withhold a processing fee on PayPal payments.

LECTURE: On Sunday, September 19, Giuseppe will present his lecture "Fabric Design: From Sketch to Fabric" via Zoom as part of our regular guild meeting from 2-5pm CDT. Non-members are welcome to attend for $10 fee. Sign up as a guest here, and invite your friends!


Friday, July 16, 2021

Interested in our Ten Year Anniversary Book?

“Modern Quilts in the Second City: Ten Years of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild” is a 120-page hardcover book printed in full color that celebrates the collective and individual creativity of our talented guild. We've already distributed the books from our first preorder, but if you haven't yet purchased a copy (or want more!), you can sign up on our waiting list below (or click the image of the book in the sidebar on the right) in order to be notified of a second order.

Featuring over 200 quilts made by Chicago MQG members over the guild’s first decade, “Modern Quilts in the Second City” also includes an introduction by former guild member and past MQG president Jacquie Gering, as well as seven thematic chapters with introductions written by guild leaders.

These beautiful coffee table style books make an excellent gift, and, with enough demand for a second printing, you will have the opportunity to order as many copies as you’d like! The book cost will likely be between $35 and $45 each -- more info will be provided at the time of pre-order.