Education round up 2016/17

Every year our Guild likes to pick a theme to base our education series, swaps and activities on. For the 2016/2017 season we chose “Make it Modern.”

From an Education perspective we chose to break this theme down into 4 categories and align them with challenges for our members to experiment and explore.

These challenges were:
1. Lost In Space
2. Size Matters
3. Off The Grid
4. Show Us Your Handiwork

Following is a compilation of the challenges set and pictures of the entries provided by our Guild members based on the challenge.

Lost In Space – Challenge #1
Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to create a block (of any size or shape) showing your exploration and interpretation of negative space in quilting.

So what is negative space?

“Negative space is the unoccupied area that surrounds the objects, shapes, or forms in a composition. Negative space can be within a block itself … {like this log cabin block source}

as well as the space surrounding the block … {as per this simple postage stamp block source}

It flows in, around and between our quilt blocks.  Negative space is a powerful design tool as it gives definition to our composition.  Sometimes the negative space in a composition also forms a design element that becomes part of the composition … {source}

In addition to defining shapes in a quilt, negative space can be used to create movement, emphasis and interest in a quilt design.  {I love how the negative space in-between these improv curves makes it look like the quilt is expanding source}

Negative space can simplify or un-clutter a design and at the same time draw attention to the focal point of a quilt.   It can also give the eye a place to rest in an intricate design” {source}

The above explanation has been taken directly from this Modern Quilt Guild blog post. I’ve added pictures of examples along the way. Please visit this post for more explanation, clarification and most of all … inspiration.

If you are a member of the Perth Modern Quilt Group you can view the challenges entries for Lost In Space here.

Size Matters – Challenge #2
In this challenge we will be exploring the use of SCALE in modern in quilting. Whether we are using one block to make an entire quilt flimsy or just a tiny spec of colour in a sea of negative space … the way we use scale in our design can have a great impact. Here are a few different ways that you can use scale.

Same block – Multiple sizes.  The same block is used in various sizes to create a modern look.

Photo sources: +X HSTPlus SignFlying Geese

Oversized blocks
Traditional blocks on steroids

Photo sources: HexiesHourglasses

Nesting Blocks
“Nesting” smaller versions of the same block inside large versions of the same (or similar) block.

Photo Sources: RectanglesNested Churn Dash

Mirrored Scale
Start from the centre of the quilt and vary scale in proportion … mirror. This one is a little tricky to describe … It’s not only the scale that influences here but also the layout … hopefully the pictures help!

Photo sources: Fading lines, Squares

I hope these examples have got your creative juices flowing?

If you are a member of the Perth Modern Quilt Group you can view the challenges entries for Size Matters here.

Off The Grid – Challenge #3
Let’s talk alternate grid work in quilts … the following is an excerpt from this MQG post.

“Alternate grid work is a modern quilting design element that is used frequently by modern quilters. It is often one of the easiest design elements to experiment and explore modern quilt making with. Modern quilters often “break the grid”. Alternate grid work is a tool to help showcase modern quilting design fundamentals such as negative space, no borders, minimalism, asymmetry, modern traditionalism and exaggerated scale.

Alternate grid work in modern quilt making refers to quilts that don’t follow the traditional block format of many quilts. The majority (but not all) of traditional quilt styles follow a predictable grid structure. It’s important to note that some modern quilts DO follow traditional quilt grid work and some traditional quilts do NOT follow traditional quilt grid work.”

Traditional Grid work involves blocks set out in equal rows and columns … it doesn’t mean that the quilts are traditional – as you can see from the following quilts …

Photo Reference

Photo reference

They are still quite fresh and modern… the reference “traditional” just pertains to the predictable grid layout.

But we, modern quilters, are anything BUT predictable!  So we use our Alternate Grid work powers to pack a punch!

Following are some examples to get your creative juices flowing … but be aware that if you have participated in the last two challenges, then chances are you’ve already (and maybe unknowingly) have been playing with alternate grid work.  The use of negative space and scale play a big part in messing with a traditional grid quilt.

You can start by adding some negative space to your traditional grid … this makes the eye dance around the quilt trying to find uniformity.

Picture reference

Then play with scale … this makes the dimensions of your rows and columns uneven … again throwing you off the usual traditional grid matrix .

Picture reference

Or … throw caution to the wind and use no grid reference at all!

Definitely no grid in sight here!  Picture reference

Or here!

Picture reference

If you are a member of the Perth Modern Quilt Group you can view the challenges entries for Off The Grid here.

Show Us Your Handiwork – Challenge #4
Hand piecing, English Paper Piecing, Needle Turn Applique, Hand Quilting and Hand Embroidery are not new skills or techniques.

They have been around since the birth of quilting.  Typically “boxed” into the Traditional style of quilting.

So why are we talking about these skills in a Modern Education Challenge?

Modern quilters are embracing ‘slow sewing’ and in doing so, are finding ways to give these skills a new lease on life in the modern genre.

So what makes it modern if it’s been done for hundreds of years?  The technique is definitely not new, it’s age-old and completely engraved in the quilting industry … but then again, sewing machines have been around for a long time now and modern quilts are made on them … right?

Think of Modern quilting as a genre and not a point in time.  Just like books have styles/genres … Romantic, Thrillers, Crime … the same goes for quilts … Traditional, Contemporary, Art Quilts … these categories are all just styles/genres.

Modern quilting is its own style/genre and I’m hoping that the previous three Education Challenges have helped you to identify Modern quilts with greater ease.

So how can you use your ‘handiwork’ in modern quilting?  I guess it comes down to what fabrics you choose to use in your pieces.  You could use alternative grid-work and negative space to enhance your design.  Scale the design bigger, smaller or a mixture of both!

Your whole quilt doesn’t have to be hand pieced or hand quilted, you can just add some simple hand work to start with.  A few hand appliquéd hexies, an embroidery on a pouch, some big stitch quilting  … you might already be simply sewing the binding on your quilt by hand … it all counts in my book!

I encourage you to have fun with it … enjoy the simple pleasure of sewing with a needle and thread.  Perhaps you have a spot in your garden or living room, to sit, sew and enjoy some winter sun.   Following are some inspiring pictures and examples to get you started!

Simple Decorative Stitches – Hand Quilting – source – this could be your inspiration for a whole cloth quilt.

Big Stitches – Hand Quilting – source –  add interest with big, bright, colourful stitches.

Needle Turn Applique – source – this is needle turn applique heaven!

Needle Turn Applique – source – each ‘squircle’ is needle turned then the background/borders are machine pieced.

Hand Pieced – source – you can brave those tiny curves on your machine or sit by a warm fire and hand piece them.

Hand Pieced – source – one block down … how many more to go?

English Paper Piecing – source – it’s like a jigsaw for grown-ups!

English Paper Piecing – source – have you given EPP a try yet?


If you are a member of the Perth Modern Quilt Group you can view the challenges entries for Show Us Your Handiwork here

Every Perth Modern Quilt Guild Member that entered the above challenges has now gone into a draw to win the Grand Prize.  The more times they entered … the more chances they will have of winning!

So what is this Grand Prize?

Well … ta da!

It’s a Tula Pink Fandango Quilt Kit … very kindly, and generously, donated by our friends at XLN. Thank you very much XLN.  The winner for the Grand Prize will be drawn at the next Perth Modern Quilt Guild meeting 24th September 2017 – 2pm.  You can find all the Guild meeting dates here

So that’s a wrap for our 2016/2017 Education Series “Make It Modern” … we hope you enjoyed this Education series.

Stay tuned for 2017/2018 theme.