Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Big Fun Mystery Sew Along: Month Nine

We hope you've enjoyed participating in the Big Fun Mystery Sew Along over the past eight months. Perhaps you learned a new technique, experimented with a novel color palette, or just enjoyed discovering what each new month would bring. By now you probably have a pile of blocks in different shapes and sizes. You may be wondering what to do next. It's time to evaluate what you have, make some decisions,... and come up with a plan!

Lay out your blocks to see what you have so far.

What will your final quilt look like? You may already have a design in mind. If not, we're here to offer some ideas and guidance for making design choices. Here are some things to consider as you formulate a plan:

  • USE: How will the quilt be used? What is it for? Will it's purpose be art or utility? Do you want a wall quilt, throw quilt, or a quilt for your bed? This will help you determine a size for your quilt.
  • COLOR: Are you happy with the color palette you've been using? Do you want to make changes, such as adding more of a certain color or print? Perhaps you'd like more neutrals? Or more pops of color? Maybe the colors in one particular block look out of place with the other blocks. You could choose to leave the block out or to make additional blocks using some of those same colors to balance out your palette. Or, if your palette seem too static, you could add small bits of a contrasting color to some additional blocks, or to fill in blank areas. 
  • SCALE: The sizes of the blocks over the past eight months (when specified) have varied. This was intentional in order to add a level of challenge to the final quilt assembly, and individuality to each design. This is not a cookie cutter pattern. It's not really a pattern at all, but a set of varied ingredients waiting to be compiled into a quilt that is entirely your own. In order to make it work, you may want to make some blocks larger and some smaller to suit your vision. It could be an interesting design decision to vary the scale of one block and include several different sizes in your quilt. The varying block sizes also allow you to consider how big you want your quilt to be and which blocks you wish to rescale.
  • BALANCE: As you consider different block layouts and quilt designs, pay attention to the visual weight of the shapes, colors, and spaces. Are there places where your interest is drawn and your eyes naturally rest? Do any parts of the layout feel overpowering? Being intentional about areas of focus can help to balance your design. You may be more comfortable with a central focus, or one that is asymmetrical with several focus areas spread across the composition. There is not a single formula that works for everyone or every set of blocks.

Where/How to Start:
Lay out all the blocks you have made so far. What do you like and not like? Is something calling to be the central focus. What kind of quilt do you picture? Perhaps a regular grid made of one or two repeating blocks? Or a sampler using many different blocks? How about a medallion style quilt with a central area and expanding borders surrounding it? Think about use, color, scale, and balance, as outlined above. Snap a photo of what you have so far.

Try different layouts, such as a medallion.

Next, move your blocks around to see if any patterns emerge. You might notice a new focus that you like more than the first arrangement. Continue to place and rearrange blocks to make a totally different layout. If you don’t have enough blocks, just pretend and leave some blank areas equal in size. Or, if you have the time, go ahead and make more blocks now. Continue to take photos as you go along and as your design changes and grows. By capturing your steps throughout this process, you can always go back to a previous arrangement or earlier design you liked better.

Try arranging like blocks in rows or sections.

Try grouping the similar blocks in different ways. If you line up like blocks into rows, or group them into distinct sections, how does it change the dynamic? Can you see other patterns emerging? Consider going beyond horizontal and vertical rows, and try diagonal arrangements. Continue to think about color, scale, and balance. Remember to stop and take a photo of each new configuration.

Leave spaces in your design for more blocks, if needed.

Put your plan into action:
Hopefully all of this rearranging and thinking and experimenting will lead you in a clear direction, and now you can work on filling in the blanks needed to make your design work. You will likely need to make additional blocks (see links to previous months' posts below). Don’t be afraid to make more blocks than you need -- you can always use them for part of another quilt or in a pieced back. Spend some time making blocks and fine-tuning your design. Continue to consider color, scale, and balance as you work. If you wish, share your progress on social media with the hashtags #chicagomqgsewalong and #BFMSAL. Pay attention to the evolution of your design, and enjoy the process!

 Design in progress. The red star and turquoise arrow don't work.
And it needs more blocks for repetition and size.


Finally, next month will focus on assembly and strategies for piecing your quilt top. As we near the end, we can't wait to see your designs take shape!

 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Our Ten Year Anniversary Book is now available for Pre-Order!

After Covid delays, we are excited to announce that the Chicago MQG 10th anniversary book is now available for pre-order! “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. 



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. 



Pre-order your copy today! These beautiful coffee table style books make an excellent gift, and you are able to order as many copies as you’d like!



Pre-orders for the initial run of printed books are open April 21 through May 7. They are $35 each and require payment at the time of pre-order. We anticipate having the books available for Covid-safe in-person distribution at the end of May, and you’ll read more about that on the pre-order form. A second printing will only happen when we have a high enough demand to place another bulk order, so don’t miss your chance to order your book now.



Saturday, April 17, 2021

Big Fun Mystery Sew Along: Month Eight

We're keeping things simple this month with some basic blocks made from half-square triangles. This will be the last month of block-based instructions for our Big Fun Mystery Sew Along, and then we'll focus on how to pull together all the individual parts and pieces we've created. The blocks below could be a quick and easy way to fill empty spaces or add a border to your design. Scale them up or down as needed, and use them to add some basic (or bold) geometry to your mystery quilt.

If, like me, you have a bunch of blocks made, but no clear idea of how to combine them into a cohesive quilt, then, well, we can dive into that challenge together in the next couple of months. I definitely see a cohesion and unity to the blocks I've made when I lay them out or put them up on my design wall. There's a similarity in scale, and the fabric colors and prints hold them together as well. I'm exited to start thinking about them more as a whole. 

In the coming two months or so we'll provide guidance for thinking about what to add (and maybe what to take away); how to settle on a design direction; and how to fill in any gaps. If you already have a plan, that's fantastic -- you're ahead of the game. Whether your design path is direct or meandering, we hope you can use one or more of this month's HST-based blocks to continue the journey of your mystery quilt. And, as always, we hope you're having fun and enjoying the process.

Looking for past months' instructions? Here are links to all of the "back issues":


Share your work and your process on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #chicagomqgsewalong and #BFMSAL. And/or use them to follow along and see what others are creating.

MONTH 8 BLOCKS: Variations with Half-Square Triangles

This month we're focusing on simple blocks that start with half-square triangles. This builds upon the HST foundations and methods covered in Month Six. There's a basic hourglass block (constructed from two half-square triangles); four HSTs configured as a square within a square; and the same four HSTs arranged into sets of split flying geese. You may want use these ideas (or your own variations) as you consider how to supplement the blocks from previous months or add borders to your Big Fun Mystery quilt design.

Four hourglass blocks (left); triangles variation #1 (center); triangles variation #2 (right)

Notes about the Hourglass blocks:
If you continue on from the Half Square Triangle (HST) blocks from Month Six you can create hourglass blocks. The instructions here start with 5-1/5” squares of fabric, but you can make them bigger or smaller. Starting with 5-1/2” squares, you end up with 4-1/2" blocks (4” finished). If you're a super precise sewer, these could be trimmed to 4-3/4" unfinished, but trimming the blocks to 4-1/2” gives you some wiggle room. Bill likes to trim to 4-1/2" using the rulers he has.

You could make an entire quilt from these blocks, but they also work well for borders.

Hourglass cutting instructions:

From Red fabric:          Cut (1) 5.5”x5.5" square
From White fabric:       Cut (1) 5.5"x5.5" square

Hourglass piecing instructions:

MAKE THE BLOCK:

    1. Mark a diagonal line on the wrong side of the lighter fabric square.



    2. Stack the two squares and sew a seam ¼” from the marked line, repeat on the other side.  Press and and then cut along the drawn line.



    3. Open up each HST, pressing the seams towards the dark fabric. Tip: If you start with the dark fabric on top, this happens without thinking about it.



    4. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of one of the HST blocks perpendicular to the sewn seam. Then stack the two HSTs so the seams nest. and sew two seams 1/4" from either side of the drawn line like before.



    5. Sew two seams 1/4" from either side of the drawn line like before. Press, cut along the drawn line and open the blocks. Now you can twirl or spin the seams. Depending on your stitch length and thread they may open up easily or you may have to use a seam ripper to unsew a stitch or two.  Manipulate the seam allowances so they all “rotate” around the block in one direction and coax the center open like a flower.  One will go clockwise, the other block will be counter clockwise.



    5. Press the blocks well, using a bit of starch if needed, and square them up to 4-1/2". Make more as needed.



Notes about the Triangles Variation blocks:
Each of these blocks are made of four half-square triangles. I made four sets of two-at-a-time HSTs, each in a different set of colors (all of them using a saturated foreground color with a neutral background. Then I combined each set of four as shown below to make the two variations.



I started with 6" squares, then trimmed each HST to 5-1/5". This results in 10" finished blocks (10-1/2" unfinished) when the four HSTs are pieced together. You can, of course, size them bigger or smaller according to what works for your design.



Saturday, April 10, 2021

March Meeting Recap

During our March meeting, we welcomed guest speaker Tara Faughnan for a lecture about her process, inspiration, and the many ways she uses color in quilts. Tara spoke about the importance of play, especially when in a creative rut. Making "bad" quilts (or at least ones that you don't love) is a part of the creative process that she has accepted and even embraces. She talked about how color (or a combination of colors) can evoke a mood, and how changing the proportion or placement of color (or even the shapes in a design) can change that overall mood. 

Tara suggested a few different approaches for starting and working on a design:
  1. Start small and let the design evolve: Start with a block (or a few), then create relationships from one block to the next. 
  2. Commit as you sew: Make decisions about color and value on the fly.
  3. Think about breaking it down into parts (background and bits): What is the overall story? What are the details?
  4. Create an overall story first, and then define the shapes and refine the spaces.

For inspiration, Tara pays attention to shapes she sees in the world and how they go together.

To see some of the fabulous creations shared in our Show and Tell at the end of the meeting, check out the March Show and Tell album found in our member Facebook group. Please continue to upload your show and tell pictures to each month's Facebook album (especially big quilts and other items that are hard to show off on the Zoom platform), and we'll create a slide show to present during our meeting's "show and tell" time. You're always welcome to share in real time during the meeting as well.


GUILD ANNOUNCEMENTS:

New CMQG Board: The following 2021-22 CMQG board members were elected by acclamation during the meeting:

President: Julia Bryant
Vice President: Kathy DeVries
Secretary: Ellen Pomes
Treasurer: Natalie Holz
Programming Chair: Bill Keller
Special Events Chair: Emily Bruzzini
Retreats Chair: Katie Cooper
Social Media and Communications Chair: Amy Struckmeyer
Membership Chair: Angie Wright

We welcome new board members Kathy and Angie, and thank the others for returning for another term.

Half Square Helper of 2021: We announced a very special surprise award to longtime guild member Andrea DiOrio! She was the second to receive this recognition (and a custom made ribbon) since the Half Square Helper annual award was conceived last year. Andrea has consistently offered her time and energy to provide a space to hang out every week online. Andrea’s Crafty Divas has taken place at 7:30 on Wednesdays and Sundays since mid-March of 2020, and is open to anyone who wants to participate. She is always warm and welcoming, and genuinely interested in everyone's endeavors (crafty or otherwise!). We are so appreciative of her generous spirit.



Thank you to Julia Bryant for once again creating the beautiful Half Square Helper award ribbon for our annual tribute to a member who has given their time and talents to our guild.

Treasurer's Report: Natalie Holz presented the Spring Treasurer’s Report. The guild has expenses for national guild membership, Paypal fees, materials for charity and community quilts, our anniversary book, speaker fees, meeting room fees, and workshop/sew-in space rental fees. These are the many things your dues pay for. This year we had a surplus because of the pandemic, which enabled us to make a charitable donation to the Sienna center, the usual location of guild retreats. We're holding onto the rest of the surplus because we’ll likely need it for space rental when we're able (hopefully soon!) to meet in person again.

Weekly Sewcials! Can you help host?: We'd love to continue our weekly Zooms for chatting and sewing, and a way to connect more personally, but we need new hosts! Sewcials previously took place every other Tuesday at 6pm, and every other Wednesday at 1pm. These unstructured sew-ins are for guild members who want to hang out, catch up, sew a little (or do any craft, really) and meet other members. We're putting the sewcials on pause while we look for new hosts -- please let us know if you'd be willing to host one time, or on an ongoing basis. If there's a different day of the week or time that works better for you, we're open to that too!

More great programming!: We have added two new teachers to this year’s schedule. In June we’re co-hosting Maria Shell with the Bloomington/Normal MQG. The lecture will be on a Tuesday night, June 22nd @ 6pm, and is free to members of both guilds. Guests are welcome for a $10 fee. Maria will teach a workshop "Blow it up!" on June 26th. The workshop is currently sold out, but you can join the waiting list in case a spot opens up.

In July we will welcome Sara Trail from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. She'll give a lecture during our regular July 18 meeting, and run a 2-day workshop July 10 & 17 (two Saturdays in a row for three hours each) on Zoom. Signups will start in May.

CMQG Tenth Anniversary book: It's happening! Final edits are done, and preorders will begin later this month.

Guild-wide sew along: Month Seven block instructions for the Big Fun Mystery Sew-Along are up on the blog. Don't forget to tag your progress photos on Instagram and Facebook with #BFMSAL and #chicagomqgsewalong so we can see your progress. If you’ve been wanting to start, but just haven’t yet – you are not alone! It’s totally ok to start this month with whatever block you want. Note: we're running behind with the April (Month Eight) blocks and blog post, but the info should be on the website by mid-month! 

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:

Sunday, April 18, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Quilt Olympics III. A version of our popular Quilt Olympics trivia and quilting competition. The tradition continues... with modifications for a virtual format.

Sunday April 23, 10:00-5:00: Virtual Retreat. Join us for a day of sewing and community via Zoom. You can pop in and out, sew with us, chat, and share your recent finishes. All crafts are welcome!

Sunday, May 16, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Tote-a-Palooza Part I. The first of a two-part program on tote bag construction, tips, tricks and resources. (Part II will take place in August).

Saturday, June 19, 10:00-4:00, virtual Sew-In and meeting via Zoom. Join us for a casual day of sewing with fellow guildmates. Work on your own hand- or machine-sewing project, or just join in for conversation. Meeting announcements and Show and Tell included.

The guild’s complete list of programs and events through December 2021 is now available, so take a look at the rest of our programming and mark your calendars.

Use and follow our guild hashtags!

#chicagomqg
#chicagomqglecture
#chicagomqgshowandtell
#chicagomqgdingdingding
#BFMSAL
#chimodbee
#chicagomqg10yearmini

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

This month's meeting is on APRIL 18, via Zoom. (Look for a link in our member newsletter, the Full Bobbin.)

Meeting location: Online, via Zoom.

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!

Friday, March 12, 2021

February Meeting Recap

Our February "Make Do" program began with discussions and short presentations on frankenbatting, mending, and using free online tools for quilt design and layout. 

If you're not familiar with "frankenbatting," it's a term for piecing together batting scraps in order to make a larger piece big enough for a project, and we learned several different methods for doing this. Carol Matlak showed how she cuts thin strips of fusible interfacing, and then uses those to bond separate pieces of batting together. Carolyn Strug showed us a method of using an elongated zigzag stitch to sew pieces together -- she simply butts the edges against each other while feeding them through her sewing machine. Lauren Krause also sews pieces together with a wide zigzag stitch, making sure to use batting scraps that are the same type -- not mixing cotton with a cotton/poly blend, for example.

Laura Hartrich gave a demo on darning socks with and without a Speedweve (or similar) loom; then Bill Keller shared some everyday kitchen items that can be used as darning aids, such as substituting a serving spoon for a darning mushroom. This tutorial shows how the Speedweve works.

Then Amy Struckmeyer shared how to use the Layout from Instragram app in place of as a design wall, or as a tool to find secondary and tertiary patterns that occur when blocks are duplicated, rotated, and/or flipped or mirrored. Simply snap a photo of a finished block or drawing with your phone, then load it into the app and play. She shared a few other free online tools that can be used to design quilts: PreQuilt's colour pages for easy coloring in of many commercially available quilt patterns; Play Craft's Palette Builder (a tool for creating a color palette from an uploaded photo); and Inkscape (free, open source, professional vector graphics software). Learn the basics from Yvonne Fuchs in this Quilt Pattern Design in Inkscape MQG webinar.

Following these presentations, we split into breakout rooms to discuss our own "make-do" solutions over this past year. Here's a compilation of many of the ingenious ideas generated in that brainstorming session.

There was so much to see in our Show and Tell this month -- it was inspiring! You can see some of what was shared in the February Show and Tell album found in our member Facebook group. Please continue to upload your show and tell pictures to each month's Facebook album (especially big quilts and other items that are hard to show off on the Zoom platform), and we'll create a slide show to present during our meeting's "show and tell" time. You're always welcome to share in real time during the meeting as well.


GUILD ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Upcoming Board Elections: The following slate of candidates for the 2021-22 CMQG Board was announced:

President: Julia Bryant* (moving from current Vice President)
Vice President: Kathy DeVries
Secretary: Ellen Pomes*
Treasurer: Natalie Holz*
Programming Chair: Bill Keller*
Special Events Chair: Emily Bruzzini*
Retreats Chair: Katie Cooper*
Social Media and Communications Chair: Amy Struckmeyer*
Membership Chair: Angie Wright

*indicates current board member returning for another term
 
The election will be held during our March 21 regular meeting. Since each position is uncontested, we'll have a simple vote by acclamation -- no ballots needed.

MQG news: We celebrated CMQG members Laura Hopper, Rebecca Cynamon-Murphy and Laura Hartrich, who all had quilts in the QuiltCon Together 2021 show. With our guild's charity quilt in the Community Outreach category, that makes a total of four member quilts in the show! In addition, Jenni reported that an impressive one third of our guild attended QuiltCon Together this year.

Heather Kinion spoke briefly about the success of QuiltCon Together. The participation numbers well exceeded the MQG board's expectations and they are thrilled. As a result, they recognize a substantial need for online events to give people who can't attend QuiltCon in person an opportunity to participate. The organization doesn’t have enough staff for a hybrid event next year, but they are working on plans for a big virtual event annually, as well as a separate in-person events. You can still log on and fill out surveys for events you did attend; feedback will be used in planning future events, so please take the time to fill them out if you can.

Weekly Sewcials! Open to all CMQG Members: Sewcials on Zoom are every other Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon. These unstructured sew-ins are for members who want to hang out, catch up, sew a little (or do any craft, really) and meet other members. Jenni Grover will host them as we begin, but we'd love to have other volunteer hosts as well. The next Tuesday Sewcial is February 23 at 6pm, and the next Wednesday Sewcial is March 3 at 1pm. Check your monthly newsletter (the Full Bobbin) or the member Facebook page for the Zoom link.

CMQG Tenth Anniversary book: It's happening! Final edits are being made, and preorders will begin later this month.



Guild-wide sew along: Month Seven block instructions for the Big Fun Mystery Sew-Along are up on the blog. Don't forget to tag your progress photos on Instagram and Facebook with #BFMSAL and #chicagomqgsewalong so we can see your progress.

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!

CMQG Sewcials continue: Members are invited to join these weekly Zooms for chatting and sewing, and a way to connect more personally. Sewcials take place every other Tuesday at 6pm CST (next is March 23, 2021, and every other Wednesday at 1pm CST (next is March 17, 2021). You can find the private (member's only!) Zoom link in your Full Bobbin newsletter and on the CMQG Facebook Community Group page. 

Spring Retreat: We won’t be doing the Spring retreat in-person, but have scheduled a sew-in day (or Virtual Retreat) instead for Sunday, April 25, 10:00am-5:00pm. Katie thinks the chances are very good for an in-person Fall retreat!!! Members who signed up for the cancelled Spring 2020 retreat will be given priority to sign up for the fall retreat.

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, March 6 AND Saturday, March 20, 10:00-5:00, virtual workshop via Zoom: Color Interaction with Tara Faughnan. The workshop (which is now running twice to accommodate the demand) is limited to 20 participants each session and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Workshop fee is $75. All current members should have received an email with the sign-up link. Email Emily with questions or for more information.

Sunday, March 21, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Guest Speaker Tara Faughnan. Quilter, teacher, and master of color, Tara Faughnan, will talk about her design process, from initial spark to finished quilt. She'll share the ways in which she takes an idea and develops it; how the role of scale and color are integral to her process; and how she resolves issues and deals with a creative rut. You will surely be inspired! Non-members are welcome to join for a $10 fee, so invite your friends to sign up as a guest here.

Sunday, April 18, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Quilt Olympics III. A version of our popular Quilt Olympics trivia and quilting competition. The tradition continues... with modifications for a virtual format.

Sunday April 23, 10:00-5:00: Virtual Retreat. Join us for a day of sewing and community via Zoom. You can pop in and out, sew with us, chat, and share your recent finishes. All crafts are welcome!

Sunday, May 16, 2:00-5:00, virtual meeting via Zoom: Tote-a-Palooza Part I: the first of a two-part program on tote bag construction, tips, tricks and resources. (Part II will take place in August).

The guild’s complete list of programs and events through December 2021 is now available, so take a look at the rest of our programming and mark your calendars.

Use and follow our guild hashtags!  

#chicagomqg
#chicagomqglecture
#chicagomqgshowandtell
#chicagomqgdingdingding
#BFMSAL
#chimodbee
#chicagomqg10yearmini

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

This month's meeting is on MARCH 21, via Zoom. (Look for a link in our member newsletter, the Full Bobbin.)

Meeting location: Online, via Zoom.

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!