Monday, March 5, 2018

Common Shapes, Complex Designs

Join us Saturday, March 10 for our monthly guild meeting.

Ann Hurley, Camille Miller and Martha Steele will help us explore ways to use common/simple shapes to create complex designs for modern quilts. 

We’ll look at straightforward patterns and examine ways to restructure them into more interesting and complicated creations. 

This program includes a hands-on exercise, so please bring the following items:
  • Scissors (for cutting paper)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Glue stick

Sunday, March 4, 2018

February 2018 Recap

This month we shared our favorite notions for cutting, sewing and quilting. Plus, two ChattMQG members traveled to QuiltCon in Pasadena, and we learned about two upcoming regional quilt shows.

Go-To Gadgets & Tools

"I can't believe you brought drug paraphernalia to our guild meeting!" someone exclaimed in jest. To say our meeting on our favorite quilting gadgets took an unexpected turn is an understatement. And no, we don't condone illicit activities, but a couple of unconventional tools gave us a good chuckle.

For Hand Quilting

Better known as a surgical tool, a hemostat can be a hand quilter's best friend. It pivots like scissors but does not cut. Instead, a set of interlocking teeth below the handles lets you control the gripping force of the tip.

This surgical tool can be very useful for hand quilting.

Catherine Price recommends clamping it onto a needle to pull the needle through thick quilt layers with ease. Following her informative show-and-tell, another quilter (who shall remain anonymous to protect her identity) proclaimed, "That's a roach clip!" To each her own.

Other tools recommend for hand quilting include:

At Your Machine

Rhonda Fulghum shared a very handy tip: convert your favorite paperback quilting books to spiral-bound! This makes it easier to open them to specific pages while you’re learning a new technique.

You can turn any paperback book into a spiral-bound book,
just visit your local print shop.
Rhonda also praised the handmade stiletto she received from Jean Larson, who used a large darning needle and Fimo Polymer Clay to make it.

Jean made this stiletto with a darning needle and Fimo clay.
Other handy tools to keep by your machine include:

For Cutting and Trimming

A somewhat unconventional idea came from Sherry Leary: use a Quick-Grip clamp from the hardware store to lock your fabric into place when cutting long strips. Sherry stacks her cutting mat, fabric, and ruler along the edge of a table and clamps all three into place to prevent any shifting.

Sherry uses clamps like this to hold fabric in place for cutting.
Other useful cutting tools include:

To Make Free-Motion Quilting Easier

If you tend to shy away from quilting without a walking foot, several items can make free-motion more fun and less stressful. Denise Ohlman uses a Quilt Halo for support and control when she does FMQ; Catherine recommends a similar tool called Martelli Gripper Rings. Batt Scooters by Paula Reid can also help you keep a good grip on your quilt sandwich while it's under the needle.


Blue Ribbon Winner

Congratulations to Mary Keasler, who won two first-place ribbons at this year's QuiltCon in Pasadena, California. She took the top prize in the American Patchwork & Quilting Flying Geese category for her quilt titled "Free Motion", and her "Mountain Town" quilt won the Small Quilts category. Click here to see all of this year's winning quilts. 

Mary Keasler and her award-winning quilt "Free Motion"

Kelly Spell also had a quilt juried into the show. Her "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a" quilt was exhibited in the Small Quilts category.
Kelly Spell and her quilt "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a"

Upcoming Quilt Shows

Speaking of quilt shows, there are two shows scheduled in the coming weeks that are an easy drive from the Chattanooga area.
  • Fiber Arts & Art Quilts at Cleveland Workspace: Friday, March 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cleveland Workspace is located at 445 Church Street in Cleveland, TN. Contact Karen Downer for more information. This exhibition coincides with "Stitches in Time" at the Museum Center at Five Points.
  • Original Sewing & Quilt Expo: Thursday, March 8 through Saturday, March 10 at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, GA. Exhibit hall hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Recognition for Charity Work 

We want to take a moment to recognize the work of Sara Bradshaw, a retired police officer and guild member who is working on quilts for Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). The organization rescues victims of sex trafficking, and Sara committed to send 10 quilts to O.U.R. this year. The first group recently arrived at O.U.R. and the organization wrote a blog post about the donation. Sara's enthusiasm for the cause encouraged several guild mates to join her effort, and comments on the O.U.R. blog post indicate interest among quilters around the country. Bravo!

Habitat for Humanity

In addition, Sara sits on our newly formed Community Service Project Committee. She, Beverly Herron and Camille Miller will oversee the guild's work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area this year.

Last month, Sara completed a quilt top using brick blocks made by members for several 2017 Habitat quilts. It is in the queue to be quilted and will be donated to a homeowner later this year.

Sara (left) and Karen (right) hold the quilt top Sara completed for a 2018 Habitat homeowner.
And Beverly volunteered to quilt a top she made; it was bound and labeled by Denise, who presented it to a homeowner during Habitat's first dedication ceremony of 2018. Stay tuned for more pictures!

Beverly made this top and quilted it for a Habitat homeowner.

Show and Tell

Monday, February 5, 2018

Go-to Gadgets and Tools

What are your go-to gadgets and tools when you’re piecing or quilting—the items you need close at hand to ensure success?

Look around your sewing room: do you have a favorite ruler, or a certain pair of scissors that is cut above the rest? Perhaps the one thing that helps you work most efficiently came from a hardware store instead of a LQS, or maybe you hacked it together DIY-style because it doesn’t exist on the market.

Join us Saturday, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. as we discuss our favorite tools at our monthly guild meeting. Bring one or two of your go-to gadgets for an informative show-and-tell session, and don’t forget a pen and paper so you can write down others’ recommendations.

See you there!

Friday, January 26, 2018

January 2018 Recap

The new year started with a bang! ChattMQG members' work was featured in books, a magazine, and a local quilt show; plus, we launched a new quilt challenge.

It’s Time to Cut It Up! (Again)

Anticipation filled the air at our January meeting as we prepared for an opportunity to breathe new life into a fellow member’s once-prized but now-neglected project. Participants were asked to bring at least one unfinished object to be part of this year's rendition of the popular Cut It Up! Challenge: UFOs, orphan blocks, and several quilt tops adorned two tables.

Challenge participants examine the UFOs, orphan blocks, and quilt tops up for grabs.
Challenge participants examine the UFOs, orphan blocks, and quilt tops up for grabs.
Instead of focusing our efforts on a single group quilt, this go-round we’re working on individual projects. To start, each participant did a brief show-and-tell about the unfinished project she brought to the table. After we got a closer look and a chance to fondle the fabric, we drew numbers and divvied up the items White Elephant-style. There was quite a bit of stealing involved in the process! 

Everyone left the meeting with someone else’s item(s) to cut up and use to create a new, modern quilt. You can see each item in the slideshow below: the original owner is pictured on the left, and the sewing surgeon is pictured on the right.Everyone has five months to complete the challenge and there are no size requirements for the finished quilts, which will be unveiled at our June meeting. Please share your progress as you work! Use the hashtag #chattmqgcutsitup on Instagram and post your pictures in our Facebook Group.

Quilts Exhibited at Local Gallery

Also in January, eight ChattMQG members exhibited their work at Scenic City Clay Arts' Gallery f 2232°.

Modern quilts featured in local exhibition
Quilts on view at Scenic City Clay Arts
The show, titled "Face Jugs and Quilts of Modern Day Appalachia", was organized by local artists Carrie Anne Parks and Lolly Durant as part of a Hamilton County Schools in-service day for art teachers. Parks and Durant heard about ChattMQG from member Sherry Leary, and they invited the guild to feature members’ quilts alongside the work of potters Mark Issenberg and Shelby West. 
The timeline for submission was tight, and it happened at the height of the holiday season, but the result was a vibrant, colorful display that offered viewers a delightful juxtaposition of hard and soft art forms. Partnering with other artists for a local show proved to be a great success! In an article by the Times Free Press, Parks described the quilts as, “really like paintings, the way the [quilters] are working with color and forms. They are doing interesting things with their stitchery and adventurous things with their quilts.” 

Congratulations, everyone! 

Members' Work Featured in Books and a Magazine

Meanwhile, several members recently had their work shared on an even larger scale. 

Veronica Hofman-Ortega’s “Listen” quilt, which was part of the show at Scenic City Clay Arts, is featured in a new book by Melissa Averinos called Making Faces in Fabric. Check it out on page 105 in the gallery of student work.

And Mary Keasler’s award-winning quilt “Not Easy Being Green” can be seen on page 179 of The Modern Quilt Guild’s new book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. That piece earned Mary the ribbon for Best Machine Quilting (Frameless) at last year’s QuiltCon. 

Finally, Audrey Workman’s “Log Cabin Jamboree” is featured on page 81 in the Log Cabin issue of Curated Quilts. CQ is a new, quarterly journal that features a gallery of quilts on a specific theme. For each issue, the magazine puts out a call for entries for mini quilts; quilters must adhere to a specific color palette and strict size requirements in order to be selected for publication.

A post shared by Audrey Workman (@artandstole) on

Bravo, ladies!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How to Make Award Ribbons

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial

Are you looking for an easy way to make quilt show ribbons? Don’t want to do the math or make a special run to the store for supplies? This tutorial will show you how to make simple and customizable award ribbons using fabric and other items you probably already have in your sewing room. 

But first, a little background.

In 2016 and 2017, ChattMQG presidents Audrey Workman and Kelly Spell issued challenges to members to make quilts for two end-of-year shows that hung during the guild’s December meetings. Inspired by the gorgeous QuiltCon ribbons made by Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft, Audrey made several ribbons for her 2016 President’s Mini Quilt Challenge — you can see one here:

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial

Thankfully, Audrey kept copious notes as she went along. In 2017, Kelly made some minor edits as she made the ribbon for her Curves Challenge. The following instructions are a mashup of their processes.

What You Need

The following items will make one award ribbon measuring approximately 4.5” wide and 9.5” tall. As you select your fabrics, keep in mind that award ribbons are a great scrap-busting project! 
  • One 3” x 16” strip of fabric for the outer ruffle 
  • One 3” x 12” strip of fabric for the inner ruffle
  • Two 4” x 4” squares of white fabric for the center badge
  • Two 1 3/4” x 14” strips of fabric for the outer ribbons 
  • One 1 3/4” x 14” strip of fabric for the inner ribbon 
  • One 1” pin back
  • White stiffened felt (or ultra firm stabilizer) for the badge backing
  • Freezer paper
  • Iron-on interfacing 
  • Plain printer paper
  • Glue stick
  • Hot glue gun or craft glue

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial

Center Badge

To start, you need to design the graphic you want to print on your center badge. This can be a logo, simple text, or a combination of the two. If you’re proficient in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or a comparable software program, use that. If not, we recommend, a free graphic-design website that is very easy to use.

Create an account and then use Canva’s custom dimensions feature to create a blank 3” x 3” canvas. For the Curves Challenge ribbon, Kelly added a light gray circle to the canvas and centered the text inside it. 

Once you’re satisfied with your graphic, save it to your computer and prepare for printing. If you have a button maker, you can print your graphic on paper and use the button maker to create your center badge. If you don’t have a button maker, don't worry. Follow these steps to make your center badge out of fabric. 

Grab the freezer paper and one 4” x 4” square of white fabric. Place the shiny side of the freezer paper against the wrong side of the fabric and press with a hot iron. The freezer paper will temporarily stick to the fabric and stabilize it for printing. 

Next, lightly glue the whole thing to a piece of plain printer paper—the right side of the fabric is facing up, and the freezer paper is now stuck to the printer paper. You’re ready to print your graphic onto fabric! Check your printer settings and make sure you print your graphic at 100 percent scale.

After printing, peel the fabric off the freezer paper and apply a medium-to-heavy weight interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. Then place it on top of the second 4” x 4” square piece of white fabric (right sides together) and sew a circle, using the grey outline of the graphic as a guide. Trim the seam allowance so it is a scant 1/4” around the circle, and clip it. Use scissors to cut a slit in the plain white backing fabric, then turn the right side out through the hole. 

Voila! Set it aside.

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial

Outer Ruffle

Take your 3” x 16” strip of fabric, fold it in half along the long edge with wrong sides together, and press. Use your favorite method to gather the fabric into a ruffle (we like the machine method demonstrated here), and shape it into a circle with the raw edges on the inside.  Tie your basting threads into a knot to hold the circle in place, then set aside.

Inner Ruffle

Take your 3” x 12” strip of fabric and follow the instructions above to create the inner ruffle. Place the outer ruffle on a table with the right side facing up, and center the inner ruffle on top of it with the right side facing up. Pin the two ruffles in place and then sew a basting stitch around the inner circle to hold them together.

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial


Now it’s time to make the ribbons. Gather one 1 3/4” x 14” strip of fabric and fold it in half along the short edge with right sides together. Starting at the folded edge, sew a scant 1/4” seam down each side to create a tube; backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Turn the tube right-side out and press. Repeat for the other two ribbons, then arrange all three in the manner you want them to hang, and baste them together.

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial

Badge Backing

Grab your white stiffened felt and draw two circles approximately 2.5” in diameter. (The bottom of a large basting spray can is the perfect size for tracing!) Cut out the circles and set aside.


You’re almost finished! To assemble the ribbon, gather the following items: the outer and inner ruffles, the center badge, the felt badge backing circles, the basted ribbons, a pin back, and glue. 

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial

Position the ribbons on top of one felt circle and baste them into place. Then add several dabs of glue to the ribbon-basted circle and place the second felt circle on top of it, sandwiching the ribbons in between; use clips or a heavy book to hold the pieces in place while the glue dries.

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial

Now add several dabs of glue to the inner ruffle, right on top of the basting stitches, and place the center badge on top of it with the right side facing you. Press the pieces to bond them together, and set aside to let the glue dry.

Finally, glue the ruffle unit to the right side of the ribbon unit. Once it is dry, glue the pin back to the back side—now your ribbon is ready to hang! 

Learn how to make award ribbons with this tutorial


Once you complete one ribbon, you will likely be inspired to add your own customizations. You can add ribbons to the back of the center badge (as Audrey did in 2016), enlarge the overall size of the ruffles, and more—the possibilities are endless. 

We hope this tutorial was helpful! If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Let's Cut It Up! (Again)

Happy New Year! To kick off 2018, we're bringing back our popular Cut It Up! Challenge  with a couple twists.

Instead of focusing our efforts on a single group quilt, we're going to work on individual projects. And we won't cut up completed quilt tops; for this reboot, we'll breathe new life into UFOs and orphan blocks.

To participate, search your sewing room for one or two incomplete projects and bring them to our January 13 guild meeting. Each participant will do a brief show-and-tell about their item(s), and then we'll draw numbers and divvy them up white-elephant style.

That's right: you'll go home with someone else's UFO or orphan blocks to cut up and use in the creation of a new, modern quilt. And a fellow participant will take yours home to rework. Everyone has five months to complete the challenge; finished quilts will be unveiled at our June meeting. I look forward to seeing the results!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

December Meeting Recap

Laughter and delicious smells filled the air as we marked the end of another year with a potluck party, mini quilt show, and gift exchange. 

Curves Challenge 

Six quilts were made for the Curves Challenge

Six members submitted work for the Curves Challenge, and their work decked one wall of the meeting room. In September, members were asked to create an original design using black, white, and one color of their choice. The style and techniques used were up to each individual maker, but the end result had to fit within the curves theme.

Vista Mahan and her winning quilt

Vista Mahan took home the viewer’s choice ribbon for her “Ocean Currents” mini quilt. Vista selected Kona Cotton Pool as her third solid; the name of the fabric inspired her watery landscape, which includes a combination of hand and machine quilting. 

Kudos to Vista, Gerry Haywood, Audrey Workman, Stephanie Quesinberry, Theresa Kitchell and Jean Larson for tackling the challenge and creating stunning mini quilts!

And if you’re interested in making your own quilt show award ribbons, stay tuned for a tutorial coming in the next few weeks.

2018 Calendar and Programs

After a successful brainstorming session in November, the steering committee took your ideas for next year’s programs and used them to create the following calendar. The topics listed in red will be taught by small groups of members listed in parenthesis; if you haven’t signed up for a group, let me know which topic piques your interest and I’ll gladly add your name!
  • January 13: Cut It Up! (Again) — We’re bringing back the popular Cut It Up! Challenge but with a twist. This time we’re focusing on UFOs and orphan blocks instead of a completed quilt top. Search your sewing room and bring 1-2 incomplete projects to the January meeting; someone else will take your work home, cut it up, and make something new with it. 
  • February 10: Go-To Gadgets & Tools
  • March 10: TBD
  • April 14: TBD
  • May 12: Hand Quilting (Sara Bradshaw, Ava Moore, Catherine Price, Patricia Steadman, Audrey Workman)
  • June 9: Cut It Up! (Again) quilt show and Brown Bag Fabric Challenge launch
  • July 14: Using Common Shapes to Create Complex Designs (Ann Hurley, Camille Miller)
  • August 11: Binding and Finishing Techniques (Karen Downer, Carolyn Pugh)
  • September 8: Alternative Materials for Modern Quilts (Theresa Kitchell, Stephanie Quesinberry)
  • October 13: Scrap Buster Sew-In
  • November 10: 2019 Brainstorming
  • December 8: Holiday party and Brown Bag Fabric Challenge quilt show

2018 Officers & Bylaws 

The steering committee recently adopted revised bylaws for the guild. The biggest changes are that we increased the number of named officers, clarified the nomination process for new officers, and formalized procedures concerning guild finances. I encourage you to read the revisions and let me know if you have any questions.

Leading the guild in 2018 are the following officers:
  • President & Communications Coordinator: Kelly Spell 
  • Treasurer: Vanessa King
  • Secretary: Patricia Steadman
  • Membership Coordinators: Stephanie Quesinberry and Karen Downer

And many thanks to our 2017 officers and steering committee! Your dedication and hard work are greatly appreciated.
  • President: Kelly Spell
  • Treasurer: Jean Larson
  • Secretary: Denise Ohlman
  • Steering Committee: Veronica Hofman-Ortega, Mary Keasler, Sandi Suggs, Audrey Workman

Show and Tell