Precision Piecing with Tighe Flanagan

Lisa Bourgeault
Author: Lisa Bourgeault, VP Programs
Rachel Petterson

Tighe Flanagan taught a great course about precision piecing to about 20 of our members on September 17th.  Our guild has been focusing on skill-building this year, so his piecing techniques were right on point.  Many of the students came to class for that purpose, but others came to learn more about tessellating quilts and Islamic geometry.  

Tighe is most known for his quilts that feature his modern interpretations of classic Islamic geometry and art, and he told us that he especially loves finding designs in situ as inspiration for making his own quilts.  We worked on his Fig Leaf quilt pattern that is based on a fairly common motif in Islamic tile work.  Tighe likes fig leaves so much that he planted a fig tree in his yard—presumably, he likes figs, too.

Emily Harris
Amy Wang

In class, Tighe used a slide presentation to describe the “silver ratio” and how it is derived from using a pattern of diagonal lines drawn using specific points on overlapping large and small circles as guides. The concept sounds extremely complicated, but his drawings and explanation made it clear. Using the silver ratio grid, the resulting shapes can be much more nuanced than if they were built around squares and half-square triangles.  Students included a math teacher and other math fans, who all really enjoyed his explanation, and it was clear enough for even the math-phobic to get a sense of the idea.  

Students started class with their fabric pressed and starched and a set of templates (either paper ones printed from his pattern or acrylic ones purchased from his website), but we weren’t asked to cut pieces because we would learn some important cutting concepts in class.  One tricky thing about the silver ratio for sewists is that it doesn’t result in pieces that measure in inches, so the templates or his paper piecing patterns are a must. 

As we cut and sewed some of the blocks, we had ample opportunities to ask Tighe questions.  Some were quilt-related, but others ranged through math, computer programs for designing quilts and publishing patterns, and art in Islamic cultures.  Tighe shared his impressive knowledge with us.  He is warm and clear in his teaching, so it was really fun to talk with him.  

Some people were daring and used multiple colors in their quilts, while others of us played it safer with just one foreground and one background color.  It was really amazing to see the tessellating pattern come to life as we placed our blocks up on our design walls—almost like magic!  

One great thing about Tighe, whether he is talking in class or writing a pattern, is the respect he shows for the cultures from which he draws his design inspiration.  He also does a great job of describing the geometry behind the design, which is especially important given the development of geometric concepts in Islamic culture.  

You can check out Tighe on Instagram at @TigheFlanagan and check out his line of patterns and templates on tigheflanagan.com.

Silicon Valley MQG Retreat – Back Together Again

St. Francis Retreat Center, San Juan Bautista, California

Author: Pam Holt

How do you adequately describe the joy experienced by 24 quilters during their first, in person SVMQG quilt  retreat post pandemic?  It was clear our quilters were up for a busy and somewhat competitive weekend full of activity and fellowship which included 24 negative, on site, covid tests, 24 smiling faces, 24 humming sewing machines, six busy irons, four ever changing design walls, 4 raffle baskets, door prizes, games, dance parties(Girls Just Want to Have Fun), charity sewing, and more.

Preparation is the key to a successful retreat and our committee took their responsibilities seriously.  Ice dye tote bags held our SWAG which included donations from several merchants including The Granary Quilt Shop, Meissner Sewing & Vacuum Centers, etc.  Each quilter received a name tag for their workstation, a monogrammed glass and other sewing tools. A favorite was a miniature sewing center in a hinged box hand-crafted by @small.town.vintage, complete with books, tools and a 3d printed sewing machine by @Jeff_and_rubytheredbone.  The committee created a meet and greet face sheet with hand carved monogram stamps to mark our progress.  Home made embroidered badges were created to mark accomplishments for early birds, late birds, project completion, exercise breaks and a host of other quilty activities. 

St Francis Retreat Center was the home to our little gathering. While our group has been active on Zoom throughout the pandemic, this was the first time so many of us were together in person in over a year.   We shared our projects, our hopes and dreams for future projects, our distinct disappointment about unfinished projects and delight over finished work. We created our own ever changing store in the lobby of quilting supplies and fabric that might find a home in somebody else’s studio. Quilters don’t like to waste anything.  The retreat center catered breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we added wine and cheese, and snacks including sewing machine shaped cookies. 

The vibrancy of our color choices was amazing to all. We had seen many of these quilts on zoom, but up close and personal is by far the best way to appreciate a quilt.  In depth conversations about how a quilt design was conceived were freely shared. Inspiration was everywhere.  Oh what fabric we fondled and we all cheered when a UFO was completed.

How lovely it was to have a chance to partner with another quilter to puzzle out the best way to finish a bias binding or create a 60° angle in a quilt block, and to cut it efficiently, and to arrange it in a pleasing fashion. What a coincidence to find two quilters, who were inspired by the same design, and both had brought that design to work on and complete at the retreat. 

Some of us showed real persistence in coming with one project that they were determined to finish, whether it was piecing a complicated color palette or machine quilting a large quilt on their domestic machine. Tenacity was encouraged by all.

Pulling together to sew for charity was an important part of our gathering. Each time we visit St Francis we work on a quilt to donate to brighten their ascetic rooms; this retreat was no exception. Everybody did a little and volunteers were found to take the blocks home to piece and ultimately quilt our donation. 

We also partnered with Sew For Love in keeping our scraps out of landfill.  They supplied us with a Cubie Chair and we filled it with all of our scraps.  By the end of the retreat, it was almost full.

Learning and teaching new skills is always a part of an SVMQG gathering.  Michele taught us how to make fabric boxes:

We all left the retreat with a sense of deep connection to an extraordinary group of creative quilters. “You are my tribe”, said one new member.  Joy, friendliness, support and inspiration buoyed us on our way home.  We can’t wait for our 2023 retreat!  Thanks to the organizing staff:  Jenny, Renee, Michele, Cyndi, Pam and the consistent support of the guild president, Sarah.  

Learning Curves with Jenny Haynes

Author: Rachel Petterson, VP Education Programs

Kicking off the workshop circuit of 2022, we had Jenny Haynes of Papper Sax Sten come teach her Cogs, Thistles and Caterpillar Wheels workshop. This workshop focused on the freezer paper method for foundation paper piecing and piecing curves without pins as techniques but also touched on the design methodologies that Jenny uses for her quilts. Jenny taught us virtually from her home studio with a great multi-camera set up that allowed us to see everything she did while also viewing her animated presentation style. As a bonus, Jenny provided us with the recording of the workshop. Since this workshop was full of info, this was great for reviewing afterwards and getting a chance to reinforce some of our new skills.

For the paper piecing, Jenny sent over templates ahead of time that we printed and had ready for the workshop. She walked us through each step of using them for the paper piecing, peppering her instruction with lots of tips and tricks. I’ve personally used both the traditional sew-through-the paper method and the freezer paper method, but only had instruction in the former. After Jenny’s class, the freezer paper method felt so much more comfortable and I love that you can reuse the templates a few times! By my second cog quadrant, it felt natural. Jenny thoughtfully gave us time as part of the workshop to work through our individual issues while being on hand to answer questions as they came up during actual implementation of the techniques.

Once we had the chance to make some cog curves with our paper piecing, we moved on to the curve piecing which we’d use to form them into a complete block. Jenny demonstrated her method for piecing curves without pins which is a big win in my book since it allows you to move so much faster. Although Jenny’s instruction was straightforward, this is definitely a technique that will take practice. However, I like that Jenny’s templates build in allowance for doing it without pins which gives students much more confidence to try out the technique while having the assurance their sample will still turn out successful.

Finally, Jenny covered some of the principles she uses when designing her cogs and thistles quilts. She explained how she decides when to stop and start, how many teeth to put on her cogs and ways to accent the cogs using fussy cutting techniques. These were all great for those of us looking to use the techniques from this workshop to put together our own quilt!

Overall this was a really fun way to spend the morning that stretched some creative muscles I hadn’t used much. Jenny’s teaching style is easy going, but informative. She focuses on her topics, but you also pick up so many general quilting tips that she tosses in along the way. Jenny shared some of her other workshops coming up that make creative use of curves and I have to say I was intrigued!

QUILTCON COMMUNITY OUTREACH QUILT

A Slice of the Valley

Size: 69” x 90”
Made from 32 colorful slices
0 calories

Tips

1- Our guild is so awesome. Every step of the way, members gave their time and talent to volunteer and work on this quilt. Thank you to everyone for making yet another beautiful Quiltcon Community Outreach Quilt!

2- For a photo session and warm welcome, I highly recommend visiting the Colwell Thundering Herd Ranch (and getting a homemade pie). The place is beautiful, the lady of the house is a quilter and you’ll even get help to hold the quilt!

Ingredients

  • Citrus Slice Quilt FPP Block Pattern by Barbara “B” Cain of “Modern Quilting by B”.
  • Improv Citrus Slice blocks inspired by the above pattern
  • Off-grid layout
  • Lots of negative space

Preparation

  1. The committee met in June  for the first time. There were many ideas on this year’s “Angles” theme. In the end, we chose to work on something that grows in California, to change from our recent Quiltcon submissions.
  2. We spent the next few weeks making test blocks, estimating fabric yardage, getting kits ready for the guild members. 
  3. In August, the guild members worked their magic and made beautiful citrus blocks. We met online and worked together. The variety of blocks was just amazing.
  4. Then it was time to put these blocks together, the committee met in Judi’s sunny garden and the quilt layout came to life in record time.
  5. Darla was brave enough to volunteer to piece the off-grid top. She had the top assembled in a few days. 
  6. Last but not least, Kathleen found the perfect quilting design for the “Angles” theme on her Gammill longarm and even added the binding to finish up the quilt perfectly.

PIQF recap

SVMQG Showed Up and Showed Off!

Author: Dianne Gates-Anderson, 2021 Senior Vice President

In 2021, the SVMQG President’s goals were to focus on Modern Quilting and to celebrate our members’ efforts and creativity.  Fortunately, the state of the pandemic allowed the in-person Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) to proceed this year (Oct 14-17, 2021) and our members were prepared to take  advantage of the opportunity.

Earlier in the year, NACQJ certified quilt judge, Kathi Eubank, spoke at our July meeting.  Kathi went into great detail on what quilt judges look for (they really want to help improve your work) and she strongly encouraged our members to submit quilts to as many shows as possible. Armed with our new knowledge, and gentle nudging from our leadership, 10 members submitted a total of 15 quilts to PIQF. 

At our July meeting, we discussed 9 reasons why members should submit quilts to shows. Enjoy this photo gallery of our members quilts on display at PIQF along with these reasons, and be sure to scroll all the way through to the end of the list to see why the list has been expanded to 10

Why you should enter your work in quilt shows: 

Reason #1: It’s an accomplishment to get accepted, so take a bow 

Rhonda Rosales with her quilt “Tamalpais” 

Reason #2: It’s a chance to share the beauty of your work with others and let them shine

“Kinship Expanded” by Erika Williams

Reason #3: Nice way to get pictures of full size quilts

“Love All Around” by Therese May
“Entropy” by Rhonda Rosales

Reason #4: People get to know you as a quilter and creator

“Somewhere Out There” by Dianne Gates-Anderson
“Sway” by Rhonda Rosales

Reason #5: You get to see your work from a different perspective

“For Lee” by Darla Gallentine

Reason #6: Your work can inspire and encourage others

“Love from Coast to Coast” by Anne Muller
“Operatic” by Rhonda Rosales

Reason #7: Entering shows motivates you to complete projects

 “If Only We’re Brave Enough”  by Mandy Fleig
“My Favorite Anderson” by Dianne Gates-Anderson
  • Mandy and Dianne had to hustle to expand their works to meet minimum size requirements for PIQF and pre-finished hanging sleeves came in handy for last minute finishing up before delivering the quilts to the show.

Reason #8: Entering shows makes you take your work/craft/quilting seriously

“Happy Little Trees” by Jenny Wagner
  • This is one of several quilts that she has had accepted in the Cherrywood Challenge.  The Cherrywood Challenge quilts travel from show to show around the country and this little quilt is a perfect example of Jenny’s creativity and attention to detail.

Reason #9: Feedback from judges helps you grow as a quilter

“Happy Houses” by Dianne Gates-Anderson
  • While the judges liked the composition and the colors they also pointed out a couple of areas for improvement such as careful trimming to avoid shadowing and suggesting more uniform quilting throughout the piece.  These suggestions will definitely be kept in mind for future quilts.

Reason #10 (newly experienced)Winning ribbons is awesome!

“Stairway to Heaven” by Pam Holt
“Modern Bullseye” by Kathrin Brown
  • Pam received lots of suggestions for completing her quilt at the UFO Rescue Digital Thursday last year and continuing support and encouragement to enter her quilt in PIQF during our Saturday Sew Days.

Guild members also performed white glove services for the show, and staffed a table where we shared information about the guild’s many activities and offerings.

In addition to welcoming prospective members, we continued sales of our Quilt Journal, encouraging quilters to document their quilting process and record their finished quilts.

Charity Quilt Donation (Bill Wilson Center)

Author: Lisbeth Polavarapu, 2021 VP of Philanthropy

Our second group of donated quilts this year went to Bill Wilson Center in San Jose. Our guild has donated quilts to Bill Wilson Center for many years, and we were happy to continue supporting them this year. 

Bill Wilson Center provides a variety of services to children, youth and families in Santa Clara county. They focus on providing counseling, housing, education, and advocacy, and have been working with youth in our community since 1973. 

Sorting quilts by size for donation
Stacks of quilts for Bill Wilson Center

This time our guild donated 34 quilts in total, 22 baby quilts and 12 lap size and larger.

Heather at Bill Wilson Center with our donated quilts

BWC is very appreciative of all the quilts they have received from us. The timing was great, and they were excited to be able to include our quilts in their Adopt-A-Family Holiday program. The quilts will be given to needy children in the Santa Clara county foster care system to bring some extra joy and warmth during the holiday season.

For more information on Bill Wilson Center and all the services they provide, visit their website.

SVMQG Member Spotlight | Lisa Bourgeault

Author: Lisa Bourgeault, 2021 VP of Membership

A divorce can change your life in many ways, but in my case, it turned me into a quilter. 

I learned to embroider at the age of 5, and that led naturally to a bit of hand sewing. 

One of my first embroideries.
Hand-sewn bag circa 1971. I still keep my embroidery stuff in this bag.

Once my mom taught me to use a sewing machine, I got excited about choosing fabrics for simple garments – my first effort was a very ‘70s pair of wrap pants made out of wild fabric, with ball fringe – I wish I had a photo of those!  My whole adult life, I thought that if I ever had the time, I’d love to do some type of fiber art and just surround myself with beautiful fabrics. This was kind of a crazy dream seeing as I’ve never considered myself to be artistic. 

This is not your typical bridesmaid dress.

My sewing for many years was very utilitarian – curtains, pillows, a bridesmaid dress and a huge project making fleece ponchos for a charity sale – and every trip to the fabric store made me long to spend a lot of time shopping for and petting beautiful fabrics.

In 2014, when I got divorced, I decided to take the room my ex-husband had been using as his office and turn it into a sewing and game room for me and my two kids.  By the next year, my old clunky sewing machine gave way to a new very nifty one, and the games (and the kids) were banished to a different room.  

Did I want to sew garments? Make quilts?  I didn’t know at first, until a pattern drafting class just overwhelmed me and made me realize that I didn’t really want to pour my time into learning how to sew clothes when I could jump in and enjoy quilting at a beginner level very quickly.

I learned to free motion when I made my first quilt, in a class at Eddie’s Quilting Bee.

My daughter already loved sewing, so she came to a quilting class with me and quilting became something that we could enjoy together.

My daughter and I made this quilt together. It was supposed to be for her freshman dorm room, but we didn’t finish until her sophomore year.

Even my son, who was 8 at the time, started a small quilt for his beloved stuffed dog (however, it is still sitting in the UFO pile).    

I have to say I am not a fast quilter, but I’m trying to be patient with myself and just enjoy going at my own pace.  Baby quilts and throws are my specialty, because they can be finished fairly quickly and they are easy to quilt on my domestic machine.

One of my all-time favorite baby quilts, given to one of my all-time favorite teachers.
I had fun with the walking foot quilting on this charity baby quilt.

I like challenging myself to do something new with every quilt, and lately I have fallen in love with improv.  The fact that I’m not proficient at 1/4 inch seams has a lot to do with that, but I also love the look of improv quilts; It’s great that they don’t get boring since I’m not making bunches of the same block.  I love free motion quilting and have taken quite a few classes; I’m also in the Self-Guided Learning Team Deep Dive into Quilting, so I’ve been practicing a lot this year.  I just bought a ruler foot and a couple of small rulers, so I’m looking forward to trying those.

This year I’m also working on a series of quilts called “Springtime in Los Altos.”  For four years I’ve been taking photos of the glorious purple and pink flowers that appear on my walks around town in the spring, and I wanted to figure out how to capture the feeling of being surrounded by this beauty.  I’m very excited that the Self-Guided Team on Working in a Series has pushed me to take this idea that has been in my head and turn it into a reality.  My first two efforts didn’t do what I wanted them to do, but the current one is working out really well and I love it.

I’ve taken some great classes with the guild, including Giucy Guice’s class on Photography and Branding and most recently a class with Carolina Oneto. 

I photographed this quilt during Giucy-Guice’s class. Not a great photo, but it certainly showed me the importance of photographing in daylight and finding interesting photo shoot locations.

When the pandemic hit, the SVMQG really saved my sanity – I always look forward to our Zoom meetings so I can see my friends.  I’ve loved our virtual retreats and working on the 2020 and 2021 BOMs, too.  

I have so much fun quilting and hanging out with quilty people at quilty events.  I’m definitely a quilter for life.


Many thanks to Lisa for sharing her story us!

Check back each month for more Member Spotlight blogs where we’ll feature one or more of our guild members who will introduce and tell us a little bit more about themselves and their quilting journey.

If you’re interested in being featured on our Member Spotlight, fill out the form on our Member Resources page and we’ll reach out with more info.

Annual Design Contest

This year we kicked off a new fundraising activity for 2021 by holding a design contest to create branded limited-availability swag that we would sell on our Zazzle website and directly to members.

We saw this as a great opportunity to promote the guild, raise funds, and take advantage of the incredible talent of our awesome members… plus, we wanted some cool swag!

Members were asked to create an original design and submit an image in any format within a given timeframe. During their design process, we asked members to think about the different application for the design (e.g., t-shirt, mug, tote bag, sticker, etc.) and about its universal appeal, beyond just appealing to guild members.

submitted designs

We were so impressed the designs received, though we knew that our members’ talents went beyond just quilting. Submitted designs were presented to the guild and a form was sent out to select the contest winner.

The winning design, At Home Together, was created by our very own president, Sarah Osentowski.

AT HOME TOGETHER

This design represents the theme of this year where we’ve spent most of our time sewing virtually with each other so I created a computer monitor with a sewing machine and sewing goodies bursting out of it, melding the real world and our online worlds together.

Sarah O.

This design will be featured on a custom order of sweatshirts for guild members, and has been added to the guild’s Zazzle store for ordering… check it out before they’re gone!

Many thanks to all of the entrants for participating in this fun new initiative… Our guild is so creative! We hope to continue this program next year, giving folks a souvenir of each unique and wonderful year with our guild.

Quilted Postcards | Making and Exchanging

At our June meeting, NASA engineer Sarah Ruiz joined us to discuss the benefits of doing a 100 day project, and to walk us through her quilted postcard process.

In anticipation of our upcoming quilted postcard swap, we welcomed guests from the Philly MQG to the meeting.

Sarah showed us her process for making the postcards, including design, materials, finishing, and mailing them.

Check out Sarah’s tutorial to learn her method for making quilted postcards.

Guild members signed up for the swap and received a kit of materials, including interfacing and a clear mailing envelope as well the name of a member of the Philly MQG who would receive their one-of-a-kind tiny quilted masterpiece. Tutorials were provided at Sew Days to help with inspiration and techniques.

We’re not sure which was more fun, making postcards, or receiving them from our friends in Philly.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing this fun activity with us, and many thanks to the members of Silicon Valley MQG and Philly MQG who made and mailed these adorable tiny quilts.

To see the collection of postcards made by SVMQG guild members, check out our gallery.

SVMQG Member Spotlight | Lisbeth Polavarapu

Author: Lisbeth Polavarapu, 2021 VP of Philanthropy

I have been crafty my entire life. I cannot remember a time when I was not making stuff.

There is a home video of me (on 8mm film reel) at around 5 years old darning a pair of socks. I look so happy and excited.

I remember knitting and crocheting doll and barbie clothes, doing cross stitch, embroidering, you name it. When I got a little older I started playing around with my mom’s sewing machine too.

My crafty inspiration mainly came from my grandma’s sister who was a seamstress by trade, and was always sewing, knitting or crocheting something. I’m lucky to have some of her sewing supplies and her button collection and love it whenever I can incorporate one of them into a project.

Quilting however, was not something I knew anything about. It was not common in Norway where I grew up, and I don’t remember ever seeing a quilt.

After graduating from college at Iowa State I moved to California in 2000. Around 2002 I bought a sewing machine, got a fat quarter pack and a learn-to-quilt booklet from Walmart. I don’t remember what inspired me to start quilting, but I remember watching Simply Quilts on PBS, learning from online quilting discussion boards, and later attending classes at PIQF.

My first ever quilt blocks, and my first (mini) quilt.

One of the first quilt blocks I made from the same booklet became a pillow.

First baby quilt I made in 2003.
First large quilt I made in 2004. It lives in our van and still gets a lot of use.
I made this quilt from a pattern in 2005 for my oldest daughter when she was born.
I made this quilt of my own design for my youngest daughter. She was born in 2010, but the quilt was finished in 2014.

I was looking for quilty friends and came across messages about SVMQG starting up at The Intrepid Thread in 2014. I joined the second or third meeting of the guild, I think, and I have been a member ever since. For two years I was treasurer, and currently I am VP of philanthropy. 

Discovering modern quilting was an eye opener for me. As an engineer and a quilter I find it freeing to do my own thing, and not always follow the rules. 

Through the guild I’ve had many opportunities to create mini quilts. I love this format for trying new things.

This is a quilt from a class by Karen Foster hosted by the guild.
Quilts I designed and made during a retreat that hang on my living room wall.

I made this quilt in 2016 for my mom’s 70th birthday. It is made to look like one of the shelves in her library. Definitely one of my favorite quilts. 

I made this quilt in 2016 for my mom’s 70th birthday. It is made to look like one of the shelves in her library. Definitely one of my favorite quilts.
My latest finished quilt. I made the top during my first quilt along on Instagram in 2019, and just finished it earlier this year in time for my oldest daughter’s 16th birthday.

I still knit, crochet, cross stitch etc. but quilting is my main creative outlet now. I love all the steps of the quilting process, but hand sewing down the binding is my absolute favorite. Possibly because it is the last step.

I’m so happy to be a member of this guild. I have learned so much, and I’m continually inspired by all the creativity, fun and friendship. 


Many thanks to Lisbeth for sharing her crafty story with us!

Check back each month for more Member Spotlight blogs where we’ll feature one or more of our guild members who will introduce and tell us a little bit more about themselves and their quilting journey.

If you’re interested in being featured on our Member Spotlight, fill out the form on our Member Resources page and we’ll reach out with more info.