Monday, June 15, 2020

June 2, 2020, Meeting Highlights

The MQG is generously allowing local guilds to use its Zoom account for meetings so we happily took advantage for June.  Faye and other members successfully conducted the online program and attendees appeared to be pleased with the success of the process.  Watch for a questionnaire in your inbox about the use of Zoom for meetings!

Just Some of Us


We welcomed 50 members on our Zoom meeting this month.

GMQG 2020 BOM:  

The Modern Influencer for the June Block of the Month presented by Cynthia Steward is Denise Schmidt and her “Big Cross Block.”  Read more on the blog or click here for PDF instructions.


GMQG Members donated six Quilts for Kids.  Questions concerning the program may be directed to Faye Jones at birdie1345(at)aol(dot)com.

A huge and heartfelt thanks to the GMQG Mask Makers.  I think we are unable to fully appreciate how desperate the recipients were and how thankful they all are for your caring and generosity. We supplied hundreds of masks to various recipients - Hospice of the Upstate, Piedmont Women's Center, various nursing homes, Julie Valentine Center, our Quilts for Kids caregivers, Mission Hill, Project Host for employees and numerous homeless folks.

Being the Philanthropy Chairman is such a gratifying experience because our guild members are so generous and compassionate. Thank you for making those less fortunate a little safer and providing a small brightness in their lives.   Faye Jones and the GMQG

Want to learn a new FMQ pattern?  Try a 45” x 45” piece of juvenile fabric, batted and backed with prewashed flannel.  Just enough area to lock in your new skill and just the right size for a Quilt for Kids. Win Win!

Reminder: Faye is delivering quilts to our Quilts for Kids program and Julie Valentine center on Thursday June 18th. You may drop any quilts you wish to donate at my house beforehand. Please remember to post photos of your charity quilts on Quilt Quark so we can enjoy seeing them


The August challenge will definitely go on!  If we are still not meeting in person, Faye will figure out a drop off and judging place, and winners will be announced at the August 1st Zoom meeting.  Prizes will be awarded!!!!!!!!!

The theme is “Re-purposed.”
Prizes are 1st: $50, 2nd: $30 and 3rd: $20
Rules: At least 50% re-purposed fabric such as clothing, vintage blocks, sweaters, woolens, etc...
May be quilt, wearable items, totes, purses, pillows etc.
No size restriction but recommended 60' max.
Must be 3 layer quilting- top/batting/backing.
Item should be of MODERN design
Questions?  Email Faye at birdie1345 (at) aol (dot) com.


1.  The pattern-writing workshop in July will not occur on the previously scheduled date. We are looking into the possibility of making this a Zoom workshop and will announce more information soon.  (You will not need electric software to do this workshop.)
2.  We are working with Debbie Grifka regarding her October workshop and lecture.  At the moment, we are considering having a lecture by Zoom or rescheduling the entire event for 2021. 
3.  Cheryl Brickey will be reaching out to everyone that has signed up for any of the three workshops scheduled this year. 


One of the many things cancelled this year was QuiltFest.  Susan Rink thanked Cynthia Steward, Cindy Lange, Maddie Fanner and Nancy DeJong for all their many hours of work pulling together something that in the end did not occur.  Many hours were spent coming up with processes that hopefully will be used at a later date.  She also thanked all the people who completed quilts and submitted applications.  If you have work you would like to share, consider uploading it to the Quilt Quark Gallery.


Take a look at quilts posted in the Greenville Quilt Quark Gallery (you’ll have to go there to find out what a quark is!).  We may not be able to do Show & Share at this time, but please take a moment to share your quilts, your Blocks of the Month, and other projects on the Quilt Quark Gallery to We'll get them posted within a couple days for all to enjoy!


The July meeting will take place the 2nd Saturday in July, on the 11th, from 1-3 VIA Zoom again. We will be emailing meeting login information the week of July 6. 

The July program is Behind the Scenes at the Quilt Shop. The presenter is Leslie White, owner of Bernina: We're In Stitches, 3210 Main St, Greenville. 

Please email questions you would like answered to Faye: birdie1345(at)aol(dot)com. Leslie would like your input so she can include the information which will make her program interesting to each of us. 


Carolina Shop Hop has moved from July 10-25 to September 11-26, 2020. 

Johnnie McKenzie will not be teaching classes in her home for the time being due to Covid 19.  She will revisit having folks in her home at a later date.

JUNE PROGRAM: Ask the Experts

Our June meeting, “Ask the Experts,” featured advice and answers to questions submitted prior to the meeting.  Our thanks to Cindy Lammon, Cheryl Brickey, Cynthia Steward and Paige Alexander for sharing their expertise.  

Cindy Lammon

Cindy Lammon discussed fabric prep and piecing.  Cindy, who is published and has 40 years’ experience quilting, advocates pre-washing fabric and shared the following:

Pros of Pre-washing:

Prevents possible bleeding, especially reds, dark blues and blacks.  Have the opportunity to use something such as the product “Retayne” to set dye, or Synthropol to remove excess dye.
Don’t need to spend time test-washing a scrap with something white or a color catcher.  
Removes chemicals used in fabric-making process, important when making baby quilts.
Prevents distortion later, but will still crinkle up after washing/drying for that quilty look.

Cons of Pre-Washing:

Takes time to wash/dry/iron.
Sizing is removed.  Must use spray starch to return crispness to fabric, which also serves to keep bias edges from stretching.  (Best Press doesn’t get flakey or stiffen fabric as much as regular starch.)
Although the finished quilt will be somewhat quilty/crinkly after washing, it may not be as much.  If you like that look, then don’t pre-wash.

How many layers of fabric can we rotary cut and still be accurate?  

Having a sharp blade is a must.  Two layers are easy, over four can distort, especially half-square-triangles so do no more than 2 layers in that instance.  She’ll do up to six layers when cutting strips and squares.  Holding your ruler firmly and flatly is crucial to prevent shifting.  Walk your hand up the ruler as you cut keeping it parallel to where the rotary cutter is, or it may pivot.  Also, when cutting 2” strips or squares, lay out your layers of fabric and do not move fabric after cutting.  Simply move your ruler and measure from the last cut.

Best way to press seams? 
Start with a good hot iron.
Set the seam first.  Remove sewn piece from machine and before opening up, iron as is.
Finger press to one side, or if going to press open, turn over and finger press first.
These days some people press seams open, but if there a lot of points, press to the side first, then press open.  If you plan to quilt in the ditch, you must press to the side so there is something there for the needle to stitch.
Steam at the end for the final press.  For especially flat seams after steaming well, immediately lay books or a tailor’s clapper (a piece of wood made for this purpose) on the seams until they cool.

What size needles to use?

Cindy prefers Sharp needles over Universal since they are as described – sharp, and are made for use with wovens such as quilt fabric.  While she uses up to a 90 and as small as a 60, she uses (Schmetz) size 80/12 the most.  But it depends on the thread size. To sew optimally, the thread should travel smoothly down the long groove on the front of the needle.  If thread is too thin or needle too thick, the thread has too much clearance in the groove; there may be skipped stitches or damage to the thread.  If thread is too thick or needle too thin, the thread rubs on the edges of the groove and can get jammed.  This can break the thread*

*See online for needle/thread guides.  A rule of thumb is to use the smallest needle possible.  1. Match the thread to the fabric.  2. Match the size of the needle to thread thickness.  3. Match the needle type/point to the fabric.

Cheryl Brickey

Cheryl Brickey, who has published several books and patterns, was asked how to alter a quilt pattern size.

Use fewer or more blocks.
Change the size of the blocks themselves.  Make sure the size is divisible by something easy to multiply or divide, e.g., change a 12” block to an 18” block. 
Add sashing or borders to enlarge; conversely, reducing/removing them will decrease size.
Be careful if you choose to trim finished blocks, they may look odd.  You may need to just pull some of your blocks.  Figure out your new finished size, taking seam allowance into consideration, and review the symmetry of odd or even number of blocks.
After choosing number and size of blocks, play with them to reveal the most pleasing look.
Your borders can be different widths, i.e., one width for top/bottom and another for the sides.  Borders can even out a quilt that is too narrow.

Cynthia Steward

Cynthia Steward, a superior modern quilter who has been quilting for twenty years, was asked about using visual cues to get started with improv quilts.

Color palettes or a design, looking to nature, photos, motifs on upholstery, even a fence or a sunset and palm tree are inspirational.  The palette for her recent BOM was inspired by a box of tea.  A master painting, such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, offers up a wonderful palette.  Save flyers and junk mail for future use in all kinds of quilts.  Cynthia draws a lot in a sketch book and I-pad, using Artrage software, saving indefinitely until she actually needs them.  

Often a fabric will inspire her especially when doing stash busting.  Put novelty print scraps in some kind of order then repeatedly sew and trim to create a big piece of “made fabric.”  Cut into strips and build a quilt from building your fabric.  Lay a ruler down on made fabric and just start cutting pieces improvisationally to use in a quilt.  You do not need a foundation under made fabric if you always use ¼” seams and piece as you would any other fabric.  The only time she uses a foundation is when doing English paper piecing.

What do you do with big prints you don’t want to cut up?  Cindy suggests go big or go bold.  
Cut a square big enough to include a large motif, cut into 4 smaller squares, then insert skinny pieces of a solid fabric into the inner seams (creating a cross in the center, wonky or symmetrical), and sew back together. 
Use in borders for an interesting look.  
These work well in convergence quilts, such as those made by Ricky Timms, where they get sliced up and merged with another fabric to create intriguing designs.  
Create a montage by cutting squares and rectangles of several like fabrics and randomly put them back together in a pleasing layout.  
Fussy cut large motifs and “frame” them on point with sashing squares. 
Kaffe Fasset has simply cut long bands of his big, bold fabrics and sewn them together horizontally (each band separated by sashing), which would be a fast and easy quilt.  
As a last resort, you can use it as backing fabric on a quilt, or even stretch a piece of the fabric over a canvas to hang on the wall.

Paige Alexander

Paige Alexander has been quilting for many years, is published and has won several ribbons for outstanding work from various quilt shows.  Paige shared her process for blocking a quilt, a method used to bring your quilt back into square after it is quilted and before (or after) bound.
Why block a quilt?
Piecing and/or quilting can cause distortion.
By wetting for blocking, now batting has been rinsed and dried.
Wetting for blocking will remove all water-soluble markings.
Able to square up while quilt is damp; wet fabric stretches more than dry fabric.
Wetting allows the stitches to sink in and makes your quilting stand out.

Two pieces foam Insulation Board ¾”, 4’ x 8’, cut and (packing-) taped together to size needed.    
Straight Pins (Dritz 1¼” long, size 20 Ball Point Pins #16930) (1½” pins are too long)
Rulers 6” x 12”, 6” x 24”, 10” x 10”, 20” x 20” and up including a Creative Grid yard stick
Measuring Tape (metal is easier)
Spray bottle filled with water
Laser level and square

Easily cut up the second sheet of insulation board when you need to add some width to your 4’ x 8’ board, but not the whole 4’ of width.
Mark a vertical line and a horizontal line on the assembled board to coincide with your center-most vertical and horizontal seam lines, to use as a guide.
Trim excess batting and backing to within ½” to ¾” of quilt edge.  (Paige uses Warm and White batting.)
Completely submerge/squeeze in cool/tepid water in top loading machine.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes. making sure it is good and soaked (if you have a front-loading machine, do this in a bathtub).  
Spin out water on delicate cycle (if used bathtub, you’ll need to transfer the quilt to washing machine).
Fluff in dryer on air setting for 3 to 5 minutes so it is still wet, but not sopping.
Transfer and pin to foam board and square up.

Squaring up and Pinning:
Block-based quilt vs. improv.  On block-based quilts, work off center-most vertical and horizontal seam lines.  Use rulers to ensure each block is square as you go.  Cut fabric on straight of grain, which will affect how it hangs later.  For improv, measure your quilt to find center points and work off those.
Work your way out from center, or top down, referring to drawn vertical/horizontal lines.
Starting at center of block-based quilt, pin 4 corners of your first square using appropriate rulers to ensure it is square.  
As you move out (or down) squaring up outer areas as you go, remove pins from centermost blocks once you are sure the outer or bigger square is square.
Use tape measure to measure length, width and diagonal.  If askew, adjust as necessary.  Using a laser level allows you to ensure edges are straight and corners at 90°.
If quilt begins to dry before you’re finished, use your spray bottle to spritz it.  
If it looks like the design or points on your quilt may end up being cut off, smoosh design and/or points back in where you need them to be while still wet.
Allow to dry, usually overnight (if in a hurry, direct a fan or 2 onto the quilt), trim to size (double checking you’re not cutting off any points).
After drying, but before trimming so as not to trim off areas you don’t want trimmed, double check it is square.  Spritz water on it if you need to adjust it.


After completely dry and trimmed, bind.  Quilt-show judges like binding even on front and back.  If it is evenly distributed between front and back, then when you’re hand stitching it to the back, aim your needle toward and into the machine-stitched binding seam in the front for more stability.  Before cutting out your binding, stitch a sample to test how wide you need your binding to be.  Some fabrics are thicker than others and will affect how much binding will reach around to the back.  Unless a pattern calls for cutting on straight of grain, Paige cuts her binding on the bias since it will stretch both ways and give more wiggle room to stretch in case you cut it short.

Paige doesn’t block all quilts, but for gifts and shows, she definitely does. When blocking a quilt larger than a baby quilt, to avoid having to crawl around on the floor she puts the foam board up on tables she has bought specially for this process.  To bind, she lays the quilt out and pins her binding on, using a ruler when mitering the corners to ensure it is pinned (then sewn) precisely.


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