Monday, August 7, 2017

Sewing Curves with Confidence

The topic for our August meeting was one of the most-requested during last year's brainstorm session: curves!

Join us Saturday, August 12 at 10 a.m. to learn several techniques for sewing curves with confidence.

The curves team will demonstrate how to create gentle, flowing curves, along with ruler-free quarter circles; they'll also introduce you to some special tools that may become must-haves for your sewing room.

See you there!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sewing for Habitat

During our July meeting, the room was full and noisy as we worked diligently to put together two quilt tops for upcoming Habitat for Humanity home dedications this fall.

Now we're looking for volunteers to quilt them! Interested? Read on to learn more.

One of two quilt tops completed during the sew-in

Paper Pieced Stars

This group assembled blocks made by members after our foundation paper-piecing program. Between February and June, volunteers signed up for specific colorways and sewed star blocks at home using scraps from their stashes. These were pinned to a design wall by Delores at the start of the sew-in. We tried several arrangements until the color balance said "Yes!" and then came the easy part of fitting together blocks made by more than a dozen volunteers on at least that many machines with a wee bit of variation in that famous quarter inch seam. (Ha!) The end result (pictured above) features 29 twinkling stars and one improvised white block of negative space. 

New member Jessica presses a point
Carolyn P. assembles a row of stars

Cut It Up! Quilt Top

The workers on this team brought to life the winning design from last month's Cut It Up! Quilt Top Challenge.

Denise, Sara and Delores prepare the strips of solids

Vista Mahan's modernized remix called for the original quilt top to be cut into simple strips; we added a few strips of solids to her design to increase the overall size of the new quilt top. Check out the before and after shots!

Before: A Traditional Top
After: A Modernized Remix

Thanks to everyone's hard work, we now have six quilts on deck to donate to new Habitat for Humanity homeowners later this year.

If you want to volunteer to quilt either of the tops we completed during the sew-in, just comment on this post or send an email to Kelly at Your time and effort are greatly appreciated!

Mini Quilt Swap

Last year we participated in a swap with Tennessee MQG guilds from Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. Camille from our guild has organized a similar swap with the Tuscon MQG in Arizona. Members received a form via email, be sure to sign up by July 22! Swaps are a great way to make new friends.

Show and Tell

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Let's Sew Together!

Grab your sewing machine, cutting mat or ironing board, and join us Saturday, July 8 at 10 a.m. for a sew-in.

We'll tackle two quilt tops: Audrey's paper-pieced star block top, and the Cut It Up! Quilt Top Challenge top. Both will be donated to Habitat for Humanity homeowners later this year.

Members received an email with a survey to sign up for their preferred role of sewist, cutter, presser or runner.

If you're not a member and would like to participate, comment below or send an email to and we'll get you set up.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June Meeting Recap

Cut It Up! Quilt Top Challenge 

Scissors snipped, glue sticks swirled, and imagination ran wild at our June meeting as members fashioned new designs from an old quilt top that’s about to go under the knife. It’s all part of the Cut It Up! Quilt Top Challenge, an idea hatched by the steering committee to help reinforce design ideas presented by Mary Kerr in April.

The original quilt top donated by Veronica

Committee member and fabric sales rep Veronica Hofman Ortega offered to let us slice up the quilt top you see here; she made it several years ago to highlight the Mosaic Garden fabric line and had no plans to finish it herself. But like many of us, Veronica believes a finished quilt is always better than a top that languishes in a pile! So we got busy thinking of ways to make turn this traditional quilt into a modern one. 


Everyone at the meeting received two photocopies of the quilt top: one to cut up and redesign, and the second as a backup if their original idea didn’t pan out. Using paper, colored pencils, and glue or tape, members reimagined the quilt top during a 30-minute design session. They weren't required to use every part of the original quilt, which measures 40” x 56”, but the goal was to expand the top to roughly 60” x 72” — a generous size for a future Habitat for Humanity homeowner. 

As you can see, some designs used minimal amounts of the original quilt while others used the entire thing.

After 30 minutes of design, each member had one minute to explain her layout to the group and discuss possible construction methods. Then a blind vote was conducted, and each member placed a penny beside their favorite design. The winner? Vista Mahan’s simple strips!

Vista's design won with eight votes

Stay tuned for the next step in the process, as we construct the top during a sew-in at the July 8 guild meeting. Once quilted, it will be donated to a Habitat homeowner later this year.

Habitat for Humanity Dedications

Meanwhile, new homeowners Ashley and Fanetta each received a quilt during a dedication ceremony June 10. Several guild members made blocks for Fanetta's quilt; Joan Thornbury pieced the top and it was quilted by Sherry Meyer of Ooltewah. 

Fanetta (left) loves her colorful quilt
Ashley’s quilt was constructed by various guild members during an exercise on modern traditionalism; Jackie Cory pieced the top and it was also quilted by Sherry Meyer. You can see close-up pictures of Ashley and Fanetta's quilts in the show-and-tell section at the bottom of this blog post.

Sandi Suggs (behind podium) presents Ashley (center) with her quilt
And homeowner LaToya received a third quilt during a dedication ceremony May 13.

LaToya (left) and her bricks block quilt
 Thanks to everyone who has contributed to our Habitat quilts this year!

Modern Mini Quilt Challenge Winners!

Congratulations to Kelly Spell and Gerry Haywood on their wins in the 2017 Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge hosted by Quilt Expo and Nancy Zieman. Kelly took first place with her "American Alligator" mini, winning a Baby Lock sewing machine; Gerry won several spools of Madeira thread with her colorful improv mini. (You may recognize Gerry's quilt from our 2016 President's Mini Quilt Challenge.)

Bravo, ladies!

Kelly's winning mini quilt 

Gerry's winning mini quilt

Road Trip to Knoxville

Several members traveled to Knoxville last week to see Knoxville MQG’s 2017 quilt show! Kelly, Jean, Mary, Denise, Joan and Sara met up with three KnoxMQG members to see the quilts and enjoy lunch together. The show runs through the end of June; if you can't make it to see the quilts in person, there are plenty of pictures available on Facebook.

Mary, Melissa, Jean, Joan, Denise, Kelly, Sara and Michelle

Late Summer Swap with Tucson MQG

And finally, we’re going to participate in a mini quilt swap with the Tucson Modern Quilt Guild in Arizona! Signups begin July 9, and participants will have through the end of October to make and ship their quilts. More information will be sent to members early next month.

Show and Tell

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cut It Up! Quilt Top Challenge

Are you ready for a design challenge?

Guild member Veronica Hofman Ortega has graciously offered up a quilt top that we are going to slice into and redesign.

It's the perfect opportunity to exercise the techniques we learned from Mary Kerr in April.

But before we cut into the actual quilt top, we're going to create designs on paper. Pack your creativity and your favorite quilt design tools and join us Saturday, June 10 at 10 a.m.

The design that gets the most votes from members will be constructed as a guild during a sew-in at our July meeting.

See you Saturday!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Appliqué Techniques for Modern Quilters

Our May program was presented by Patricia Steadman, Martha Griffin, Sara Bradshaw and Audrey Workman and covered a variety of ways modern quilters can use appliqué in their work.

Chattanooga riverfront quilt by Audrey Workman

Needle-turn Appliqué

Patricia is an expert in this method and has learned tips and tricks that make the process easy and accurate. Patricia works from patterns but she makes some of the templates herself. She brought several examples of her appliqué work, both modern and traditional. 

Patricia's needle-turn appliqué quilt hung in Paducah in 2016.

One way to use appliqué in a modern quilt is to oversize it, and Patricia has done to the quilt pictured below. She made this floral appliqué top using a design featured in the book Alison Glass Appliqué: The Essential Guide to Modern Appliqué; it will be quilted by Denise Ohlman and donated to a Habitat for Humanity homeowner later this year.

A future Habitat for Humanity quilt

You can also use needle-turn appliqué to add modern flair to a 3-D object. Patricia sewed floral shapes to the background before constructing this tote bag. Carolyn Friedlander was spotted carrying a similar one at QuiltCon in Savannah.

Patricia’s favorite tips:

  • Freezer paper is great for appliqué patterns but it shrinks! Prep it by pre-ironing it before adhering it to fabric.
  • Instead of pinning or thread basting, use fabric glue to anchor loose pieces to the background. Keep glue away from the places you’ll stitch.
  • Use glue on points where fabric meets fabric; heat set with your iron.
  • Cut with serrated scissors. Fabric frays less, and you can feel the scissors bite into the fabric.

Whole-cloth and Reverse Appliqué

Martha showed us how she uses the traditional Hawaiian folding method to make a modern appliqué paper pattern. Friedlander also uses this method.

Martha made this whole-cloth appliqué quilt using Friedlander’s Circle Lattice pattern.* It was fast and easy! 

Martha's whole-cloth appliqué quilt

To make Bulls-Eye*, another Friedlander pattern, Martha used both needle-turn and reverse appliqué. 

Martha’s Tips: 

  • For a large whole-cloth quilt, tape your fabric to a sliding glass door and trace your pattern onto it.
  • Don’t cut the whole thing out at once. Instead, cut about 2” at a time. Everything will remain more stable that way.

Running-stitch Reverse Appliqué on Cotton Knit

Sara is making a modern t-shirt quilt—but it’s not what you’re thinking! She’s using oh-so-soft fleece knit for the backing and cotton knit for the exposed pieces. Sara’s method is similar to one she learned from Alison Glass at QuiltCon a few years ago, but Sara has made it softer. She works with old t-shirts instead of quilting cotton. Think Alabama Chanin and you’ll get a better idea. Sara enjoyed stitching this one last winter with the fleecy side on her lap.

Sara's reverse appliqué on cotton knit

You work this method with three layers—similar to a typical quilt—but the fabrics are different. Use knit on the top, quilting cotton in the middle, and knit on the back. Or use fleece on the back. Or put t-shirts in the middle. Your choices will dictate softness, weight, and ease of stitching.

Sara has made several squares using old clothing and plans to connect them into a larger project after she’s made more.

Sara’s tips:

  • Use a sashiko needle for your running stitch. You’ll appreciate the larger eye.
  • Keep your knots exposed on the top of your quilt. They look pretty.
  • Rock your running stitch around the shape you cut out.
  • Use a larger piece of knit for the back, then pull it over to the front to create your binding.

Glued Appliqué 

Audrey made a hexie quilt and glued her shapes to the background. No stitching happened before the quilting began! She used a mashup of techniques by Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft and Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies LLC.

Audrey's modern hexies

Audrey’s tips:

  • Use pre-cut Hexagon Stabilizer or Sharon Schamber’s Secret Foundation instead of paper when you make your hexies (read about it here).  
  • Baste hexies to paper using Elmer’s washable glue stick.
  • Glue hexies to foundation using Liquid Stitch glue.
  • Use a hera marker to score your foundation fabric before you lay out your hexies.

Scrappy Appliqué 

Audrey also showed us how she does “scrappy appliqué”. Modern Quilting instructor Shannon Brinkley gets credit for both name and method, and as members of the MQG you can watch her explain it on their website in Fresh Quilting, Season 1 Episode 12.

The one thing Audrey does differently from Brinkley is this: Audrey sews around the small appliqué pieces before adhering the larger shapes to her background. Brinkley adheres first then free-motion stitches around the edges. Both methods work well!

Brinkley has skyline patterns of a lot of major cities throughout the world. Unfortunately there’s no Chattanooga yet. But Audrey had already drawn the Chattanooga riverfront, sketching from her own photos and altering the landscape a bit, and used that to play with Brinkley’s scrappy appliqué method.

Audrey also fell madly in love with a cloudy sky that Angela Walters quilted on a Busy City quilt for a client. Audrey had already tackled the Tennessee River with walking-foot organic wavy lines, and then the landscape with FMQ. She couldn’t find a cloudy sky tutorial so she stared and drew and stared and drew until she worked up her nerve, then she went for broke. Audrey gives Walters full kudos for the swirly cloudy sky idea.

*Our appliqué team recommends these books and resources:

Show and Tell

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Appliqué on Modern Quilts

Some modern quilters enjoy appliqué as handwork in keeping with the slow-stitching-for-relaxation frame of mind.

Others would like the freedom of shape that appliqué brings but don’t really like projects that may take a long time.

Join us Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m. as we explore methods of appliqué, both fast and slow, that you can incorporate into your own modern quilt designs.

If you admire the work of quilters such as Carolyn Friedlander, Alison Glass, Shannon Brinkley, and Nicole Daksiewicz, don’t miss this meeting.

We’ll demonstrate methods and talk products, and hopefully inspire you to start your own appliqué project!

Below are a few examples of the types of appliqué you'll see:

Monday, May 1, 2017

April Program Recap

Words on Modern Quilts

Our April program team of Ann, Carolyn, Gerry, Jackie, Janet, and Vanessa showed us a variety of ways to incorporate words into our modern quilts, demonstrating some and providing examples of others.

Choose fabric with words. Perhaps the easiest way is to use text fabrics when you are piecing. A variety of text prints are readily available in both dark and light colors. Including fabrics like these can add a modern aspect to your work. 

Examples of text print fabrics
Use a cutting machine. Janet also showed us how she uses a basic Silhouette machine connected to her computer to cut out letters and numbers from fabric adhered to a sticky surface. She peels the cut letters away and sticks them onto a background, then sews them down.

Quilt the words into your work with free-motion stitching. Janet shared a large modern flower quilt that she made to remember her first QuiltCon experience. She machine stitched words and phrases that brought back memories, as well as the names of all her guild friends that attended the conference with her.

Janet points to words she included in the machine quilting
to commemorate the first QuiltCon.
Write your name by hand, then embroider your signature. Janet taught us a method that she learned at QuiltCon 2017 to embroider our names—or any other words—onto a single layer of fabric that can be incorporated into our quilts. Embroidery is often done before the work is sewn in, but it can also be used to add a signature after the quilt is complete. 

Janet shows members how to embroider words on quilts.
Paint words onto fabric. Jackie demonstrated how to use stencils to get letter shapes onto fabric. Jackie may use Shiva sticks or fabric paint with stencils or even stamps to write anything she wants on her quilts. 

Jackie demonstrates fabric painting.
Make a bold statement. Words on quilts can help you convey important messages, like this example Carolyn brought to the program.
Carolyn's motivational quilt top
Relief quilting. Another method to include words or letters is by matchstick quilting the negative space around the shape of the letter. The team had samples of this as well as some techniques for appliquéing letters onto fabric.


Create your own font. Vanessa explained how she uses improv techniques to piece letters into her work. She sketches what she wants to make onto graph paper then starts cutting the fabric and makes it work.

Use improv piecing to create your own font.

Thanks to all of you for sharing so many ideas!

Habitat Blocks

Jean and Audrey collected blocks that members made for upcoming Habitat quilts. Please keep making both kinds of blocks (bricks and paper-pieced stars) and bring them to our May meeting. We will piece tops with them during our July sew-in.

Upcoming Guild Meetings

Our May program will cover appliqué methods for modern quilting. In June, we will talk design and plan ways to cut up a quilt top and restructure it into a modern quilt based on what we learned from Mary Kerr. In July, we're planning a sew-in and will piece tops for Habitat quilts.

Show and Tell

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Words on Modern Quilts

Words can add personality, context and meaning to your quilts.

Learn how to incorporate text into your work at our next meeting, Saturday, April 8 at 10 a.m.

Several methods will be on display in an open-house style setting, including: piecing, appliqué, quilting, embroidery and text print fabrics.

You'll also have a chance to participate in a make-and-take project involving embroidered signatures; if you want to try this, please bring a small embroidery hoop from home.

See you there!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Details for Mary Kerr Lecture and Workshop

In one week, Mary Kerr will be here to teach us how to use vintage blocks and textiles in modern quilts!

"Twisted" Lecture

Join us for a lecture and trunk show Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)

Mary will showcase a collection of modern quilts created with vintage textiles, and copies of her book Twisted will be available for purchase. The event will be held in the Youth Center at Christ United Methodist Church, located at 8645 E. Brainerd Road in Chattanooga.

Please be advised that E. Brainerd Road is under construction; attendees will need to enter the church complex from Morris Hill Road. The Youth Center is located on the western side of the complex and has its own entrance. Follow the signs!

Lecture admission is free for current ChattMQG members, $15 for nonmembers who pay in advance, and $20 for nonmembers who pay at the door. 

Nonmembers, secure your spot and pay today using the PayPal button below.

"Twist and Shout" Workshop

Two spots remain for Mary’s four-hour workshop Saturday, April 8. It starts at 2 p.m. in the Adult Education Building at Christ United Methodist Church; participants should arrive between 1:30 and 1:45 to set up their work area.

In this fast-paced environment, Mary will teach participants how to showcase vintage quilt fragments in new, contemporary quilts. Students are invited to bring their own vintage blocks or they may purchase a kit in the class for $30. Mary will also show quilts from her book Recycled Hexies for inspiration.

The workshop costs $50 for current ChattMQG members and $70 for nonmembers.

Once again, enter the church complex from Morris Hill Road. The Adult Education Building is on the northern side of the complex and has its own entrance. Follow the signs!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March Meeting Recap

Blocks assembled using foundation paper piecing methods

Foundation Paper Piecing

Speed Dating Style

We had the fun of speed-dating several kinds of paper piecing techniques. Designs ranged from simple to complex and used printer paper, vellum or freezer paper. Did you find a method you loved?

Toni showed us how to make a simple paper-pieced string block and this one is great for beginners. She used a red strip down the diagonal of her printer paper squares, added other colors to each side, and ended up with a unified design. 

Toni presses a string block
Audrey's striped stars
Toni presses her seams after each addition. After the paper has been covered with fabric strips, she turns it over and trims even with the paper. No fuss at all and the blocks end up square with no distortion that sometimes results from strip piecing.

Audrey used a pattern for a striped star. Like Toni, she used printer paper for her foundation. Her pattern was numbered (1-8) and she showed how to add fabric in order of number. 

Audrey recommends using your old machine needles for paper piecing (paper dulls needles just as it does scissors). 

Also, sew along the lines of the pattern with no thread in the needle to perforate the paper before you sew with fabric, especially along the outer edges. 

Delores demonstrates chain piecing
Sandi recommends the Add-A-Quarter ruler
Delores prefers to use vellum as she pieces because she can see right through it. She prints her pattern onto the vellum using her home computer and then lays out several patterns on a fabric strip in a form of chain piecing.

Sandi works with freezer paper instead of printer paper or vellum. She cuts the freezer paper to 8.5” x 11” then uses a warm iron to adhere only the top half inch to a piece of printer paper—it glides right through her printer that way. Sandi prints her pattern onto the freezer paper (dull side up).

When she constructs her blocks, she folds the paper on the seam line and sews beside the paper. No tearing of paper is involved, and a pattern can be used three or four times before it loses its stickiness.

Sandi recommends the Add-a-Quarter Ruler as a super-helpful paper piecing tool.

Denise showed us how to construct complex paper piecing patterns. Some designs cannot be sewn as single blocks, so they are broken down into sub units, paper pieced, then joined into a whole. 

Denise recommends the book Quilt Block Bonanza by Nancy Mahoney. She demonstrated how to make a complex geometric block. 

Check out the slideshow for more pictures!

Mary Keasler and her quilt "Not Easy Being Green"

Sound the trumpets...

We have a QuiltCon award winner!

Congratulations to Mary Keasler for winning the Best Machine Quilting—Frameless award at QuiltCon! Her textural masterpiece Not Easy Being Green hung in the winner's circle with the best of the best and will be featured in an upcoming MQG publication.

Our latest Habitat for Humanity quilt

Habitat Quilts

Jean has become a manager extraordinaire of all things Habitat. Her latest design uses 3.5" squares—preferably of bright, modern prints and solids—set in a solid color to show them off.

Members sewed individual blocks for the quilt pictured here; Theresa then assembled the top and quilted it on her domestic machine!

When you are working on your own quilts at home, think about cutting a 3.5" strip of one of your fabric, then cut that into 3.5" squares and bring them to our next meeting. We appreciate all of your contributions, and so do the Habitat for Humanity homeowners.


Show and Tell