Friday 22 August 2014

Tuesday 12 August 2014

And Afterwards...

Heather and I at Festival of Quilts, before the Rush, and Heather's Greetings Quilt
Free downloadable pattern for this quilt here

I’ve been a maker of quilts and a teacher of patchwork and quilting for a long time.. I’m unashamedly an Art Quilter; what I make is for walls and is fancy and quite small.. What my students like is more practical, quicker, larger, and much more immediate..
In recent years this idea has become a Movement, and it seems to be called Modern..
I like this. The style tends to be clean, bright and graphic, with areas of negative space and a tendency to neutral ground colours.  It’s practical (and quick) but also bold and very good to look at. And it’s what I teach, to a greater or lesser degree, because it is what is requested.
I’m also pretty keen on Improvisational piecing (although I tend to say the word quietly, so that I don’t scare anyone). It’s much less trouble to make a block if nothing needs to match and there are no official points to cut off!  And if you improvise, your blocks are like your handwriting - personal, and not like mine.  I like this too

In January this year, I put forward the idea in The Quilter that we might want or need a new Specialist Group within The Guild.  I had a fair number of enthusiastic enquiries, and one or two rather dismissive suggestions that “this wasn’t needed”.  I ignored the latter and the proposal was offered again in the May edition. This time there was a more definite “yes” so I made plans to launch the Group at Festival of Quilts.

Now, you should know that I’m a full-time self-employed person with more than enough to do, so on the Thursday before the Festival I was sending my leaflet to the printers at 5pm, running around finishing quilts, and trying not to panic... And melting in the heat.

On Wednesday, I arrived at Festival with my friend and co-conspirator Heather, a few quilts and cushions, 5000 leaflets (very heavy) and absolutely no idea what would happen...

And for four days we talked, persuaded (not difficult) took email addresses, described, and actually found out for ourselves what a Modern Quilt is.  Lots of good people helped out, volunteered to do things, and a very gratifying number actually paid real money to join.. Lots of Guild members (some very Big Names) signed up; several joined the Guild to be a part of it, and some re-joined.. This is wonderful.

So, now all I have to do is run this.. What have I done..

If you would like to join in the conversation, you can join the Yahoo Group at
(this is free to join at present; you can try before you buy)
and we have a webpage on the Guild site at
We also have some free patterns, currently at
which you can download and use for your pleasure

Do come and play

Helen Howes
Modern Quilt Specialist Group of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Off to the Festival of Quilts

Hello all,
It's nearly time for Festival of Quilts. I am launching the Modern Group there for the Quilters' Guild of Great Britain

I have made a hand-out leaflet, run around madly finishing quilts, am writing patterns, and I'm trying to get everything together while simultaneously trying not to melt and to run my business.

I am fond of The Quilters' Guild, in spite of its funny little ways.. because I respect the work of so many of its supporters; because I was made welcome at my first AGM; because I am a teacher and a quilter and I want there to be a national organisation that will support quilting and patchwork and all the related stuff..

On the other hand, it can be bureaucratic, stolid, and a bit inclined to form-not-function..

And I worry about the demographic - the members are on the whole older than the people I teach, and the younger students do not join "because it's a bit stuffy" or because they don't want to be asked to volunteer too much - they have lives after all.. Many of the older ones are beginning to drop out because they see that travelling and attending events is almost beyond them.

At every AGM I have attended, I have asked "What is the Guild doing to attract younger people, to reach out to the young mums who are just beginning to sew, to appeal to a newer audience?"  And every time I have had no answer.

So, I see the Modern Quilting movement coming into being, and my heart sings - here is something to bring in the next generation, to ensure that there will be people sewing in a year or ten years or twenty or thirty years time, and possibly wanting to be part of an organisation that seems to care, that has skills, and that holds things together.. Teach their children, perhaps, too

Now, the Modern group technically does not exist until this coming weekend, and no-one has a membership (not even me!), but I'm expected to make a Rota of helpers for my little table on the Guild stand, and provide names, times, pack drill.. Oh, I don't mind sitting on the stand myself, and Heather will be with me, and lots of you have already offered to "drop by" and allow a tea-break or whatever is needed.  And I'm grateful.. But I have to provide a few more names..

So,  if you're going to be at FOQ, let me know.. I wantto meet you, say hello, explain, show what we're on about.
If you've already offered you're in, much obliged..
There will be a joiners' prize, and free stuff online, and nice things  to look at
Helen Howes

Co-ordinator, Modern Quilt Group

Quilt is Broken Heart - a class sample for my new class on Disconnected Log Cabin blocks..