April 20, 2014

Sow's Ear Challenge

Just wanted to post a good clear description of a challenge that I am planning for the meeting this month. I (Andrea Vander Kooij) will be hosting the April Meeting, and I want to have a Sow's Ear Swap/Challenge. I came up with the idea from looking at a lot of older quilts. I LOVE old quilts; their sense of design, the rhythm, the imperfections and inconsistencies which really show the evidence of the human hand in their making. One thing I noticed recently when looking at some old quilts was how much of the fabric was, well, kind of ugly. The Gees' Bend quilts are a good example.
This one is by Sally Bennett Jones, and was made in 1966. Left over bits of this and that, dress making scraps of every possible hue and theme, with colours that may have been popular once but are cherished no longer. But despite the not-very-nice raw materials, it has all been put them together to make a thing of great beauty. (if you are not already familiar with the Quilts of Gees Bend, you can find more about them here)

How different it is from our current quilt making methods, where we go to a gorgeous little shop and buy an assortment of beautiful fabrics and then make a quilt. How can it not be beautiful when we've started with the "best ingredients" as any good foodie these days would.

Now don't get me wrong and think I am knocking designer fabrics. I adore the contemporary fabrics available to quilters now, and buy a lot of it as my embarrassingly large stash would prove. We are very  lucky in the sense that, when we decide to make a quilt there is no limit to the colours and patterns available to us.

But I've often found, as an artist, that I do my best work when there are some restrictions. I'll often limit myself to a certain medium or category of material and really enjoy the way that limiting my options makes me push my creativity in a direction it might not have gone otherwise.

Anyhow, all this babbling is to say that I wanted to challenge the other members of my guild to make something beautiful out of something ugly. Or at least ugly-ish. A silk purse out of a sow's ear as the saying goes. And also to take the control of fabric choice out of our own hands. I think it will also give us an interesting insight into the practical origins of quilting, when a scrappy quilt was literally made with, well, scraps.

So here's the plan. I'm inviting anyone who belongs to our guild and can attend the meeting next month to join in the challenge. Here's what you have to do:

1. Go to your local thrift store and buy three different things made of fabric. And you don't have to buy yardage per se. You can buy old sheets, pillowcases, curtains or tablecloths. You could buy clothing items like men's shirts or ladies skirts. Just keep a few criteria in mind. It should be a woven fabric, not a knit. (so no t-shirts or baby onesies etc.) Try to keep it cotton-ish. A lot of bed sheets are cotton-poly blends, but try to avoid silks, wool, crazy chemical blends fibres. Not that you couldn't make quilts out of those, but lets stick with easy to cut, easy to iron fabrics. And try to go a bit off the beaten path in terms of what they look like. The don't have to be hideously ugly (after all, that is very relative term) but try to choose at least one thing that is not too tasteful.

2. Then take those things home and wash them. I like to put my thrifted items, still in their plastic bag, into my freezer for 24 hours, and then wash them on warm/hot depending what I think the fibres/dyes can take, just to nuke any potential critters out of them. Just in case. Knock wood.

3. Bring those three items to our meeting next Sunday.

4. Then, we will throw all of them into a big ole' garbage bag and shake it up. And each of us will pull out three items, (without looking - grab bag style) and use those items to piece and quilt something. We will each be allowed one "do over" grab, in case we get something we truly hate/can't work with. And we will each be allowed to purchase (or use from our stash) one additional solid coloured, or mostly solid fabric. With those four fabrics we will make a pieced and quilted bag of some sort. Use whatever pattern you like or make it up as you go.

Sound good? I can't wait to see what people bring! This is going to be so much fun…..

April 18, 2014

March Meeting

Our March meeting was led by the ever able Rebecca Burnett. We dealt with a lot of little business matters and Rebecca led us in an interesting Zentangle workshop. Zentangle is a style of intuitive doodling, which was very fun and relaxing. Rebecca's idea was that it could be helpful in generating new ideas for quilting patterns.

We were very pleased to see a lot of new members and a few visitors as well.

There was lot of exciting show and tell at this meeting.
Valerie Prideaux brought in a beautiful little half-hexagon quilt top. I love the way the hexagons seem to float on the negative space.
 Valerie also brought in a finished quilt. I believe this pattern is called Courthouse Steps. 
Debbie De Santis brought in this lovely, simple little quilt. She'd purchase a cutting system (I can't remember which one) and this was her first quilt made using that new tool.
Rebecca brought in a top that she'd quilted, but not yet bound. From afar it has a lovely simple feel, with a lot of impact. 
But up close she's done some really intricate quilting. 
 One of our new members is Angela Wu. She's been working on this Dresden Plate and is nearly finished. 

Such lovely, fine stitching!

And our other new member, Michelle Woods brought in these two cushion covers that she'd completed recently. I love the colour combination with the grey solid and the vibrant, scrappy brights. 
Also, the hand quilting with colourful thread is a beautiful final touch.

 We had a visitor too. Heather Bennett-Chamberlain came spent the afternoon with us, as she plans to start a quilt guild in the Grimsby area, and wanted to see what our meetings are like.
She brought this sweet quilt for show and tell. 

 A simple, clean lined modern log cabin setting off a forest-creature themed feature fabric in the middle. Beautifully done.

March 30, 2014

Janurary/February Meeting

Its about time that we updated this blog! There have been two meetings that have come and gone, and I have the pictures to prove it.

January Meeting

A fresh new year and some changes to the guild. Our stalwart president of three years, Kaye Prince, retired her leadership, and since no one stepped up for nomination, we are trying something new. We have divided the duties of leadership among a board made up of our members who regularly attend meetings. This way we can still function as a guild, just without a president. So, the January meeting was our chance to divide up duties.

And of course, we always have show-and-tell. I'm amazed but the constantly high standard of work produced by our quilt members. This one is a stunner.

A lovely star quilt by Valerie Prideaux. Look at the detail on in the quilting!

Next up was a finished quilt by Rebecca Burnett.
This is a stack-and-whack quilt. I was impressed not only by her precision, but also by her lovely colour choices. 

Such subtle gradations. And those bits of black here and there really stand out. 

And here is a little wall hanging quilt made by Andrea Vander Kooij (that would be me) for the Riley Blake Challenge from the Modern Quilt Guild.

I pieced the back too, improv-style which was really fun. 

February Meeting
At the February meeting we had a chance to welcome Sandy Lindal of The Scrappy Gal Quilt Company as a guest. She runs a professional long arm quilting service, so we were all invited to bring in our unquilted tops to talk about the best way to quilt them. 

It was nice to hear from an expert, and she had some tips to share too. She had a lot of good ideas and creative suggestions for quilting patterns that would highlight the different patchworks. The top that we are looking at in the picture above was made by Rebecca Burnett. 

Rebecca had been very prolific this month, and had a whole stack full of her trademark minimalist/modern quilt tops. 

As well as one lovely finished baby quilt. 

Doris brought in her finished Riley Blake Challenge quilt for us too ooh and awe over. Such a nice bold pattern and really lovely dense quilting. 

November 22, 2013

Monthly Meeting - November

Hey y'all! At this month's meeting we will be doing our holiday mystery swap - please be sure to wrap your swap present or put it in a bag as this is a blind swap.

We will also be reviewing my duties as President and dividing up the work among the new "board of leaders"; if you wish to participate on the new board, please come to this meeting and be ready to lend a hand. This is my last meeting as President, so we do need to be sure and get this sorted ASAP.

As always, please bring along your finished projects and/or problems to share with the group. See you all soon!

November 13, 2013

Leadership Update!

Hey y'all! So, as anyone who attended the meeting last month knows, no one has stepped up to run for President of the guild. We are currently toying with the idea of creating a "Board of Leaders" rather than having one President. Each of these leaders would take over one or two aspects of running the guild (i.e. one person for checking the email and facebook, one person for the blog and newsletter, one person for being the guild contact and keeping up with MQG headquarter news, etc). If this is something you think you would be interested in, please drop me (Kaye) a line at either my personal email or the guild email.

If people do not step up to lead the guild, it is quite possible that the guild will have to forfeit its MQG membership and/or fold. Thanks guys!

October 24, 2013

Monthly Meeting Update

Hey all! At this month's meeting we will be opening the floor up to potential Presidential candidates. If you would like to run for President (or co-president) please come prepared to talk a little bit about why you have chosen to run and what your vision is for the guild.

If you would like to participate in the scrap swap for the annual holiday/secret santa, please bring a sandwich-sized Ziploc full of scraps to the meeting. Please remember that these scraps are expected to be modern and quilt-shop quality; please don't put anything in your scrap bag that you would not likje to receive yourself. Since the holiday swap is blind you may just end up getting your own scraps back in the form of a handmade gift.

As always, please bring along your completed projects and/or problems to share with the group.

Just a reminder: I am currentlty in the UK for work and may not be able to make this meeting. If you have any questions or comments about the elections, please feel free to email me.

October 7, 2013

A Message from Kaye

*I was going to call this post "The Presidential Address" but I thought that might be going too far, haha!*

Hey y'all! As I mentioned in the newsletter, on Facebook, and in the previous blog post, there was an important announcement made at the September guild meeting. For those of you who were not there, here it is:

I am resigning as President of the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild. I will officially step down at the end of this year, and the new (as-yet-to-be-decided) President will lead their first meeting in January. We'll get to the logistics of this in a moment, but I wanted to address my resignation a little further first.

I have been President for over three years now (it'll be just about 3.5 years by the time I step down), and I think that it is time for someone else to take the reins. The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind, what with the new MQG fees and structure, and some changes to our own guild. I would love to remain President of the guild, I've had a lot of fun over the years, but recently I have begun to feel overly strained, which isn't good for me or for you. I hope that a new President will bring a fresh perspective and energy to the guild and will be able to open the guild up and help it to expand into an even more welcoming place for all quilters. Just in case anyone is wondering, I am not planning to leave the guild completely - I will still be attending meetings and will do my best to help the new President get situated.

Rather than doing our presentation on "selling" at the October meeting, we will open the floor to any potential nominees who wish to speak about their vision for the guild's future. There will also be a chance for members to ask questions of the nominees, and also to ask any questions or air any concerns about what effect my resignation may have on the guild. Elections will be held at the November meeting via a blind write-in ballot, unless we decide otherwise at the October meeting.

I also wanted to give a little warning in advance that I *may* not be able to attend the October meeting, as I will be in England around that time for work (I know, who would have guessed that librarians were such jet-setters, right?); I will do my best to be back in time but, since this is also my first trip to Europe,  I may stay a couple of extra days and/or may still be getting over jet-leg. We will just have to wait and see.  

If you have any questions or concerns about my resignation, or if you are thinking about running for President and just want to chat, please feel free to email me either at my personal email or at the guild email.

Thanks all - it's been quite a ride!