SVMQG Member Spotlight | Rhonda Rosales

Author: Rhonda Rosales, 2021 Guild Treasurer

I have always been a crafter.  As a kid, my grandmother made us clothes to order and taught us to sew clothes, crochet, and cook. Beyond that, I think she instilled in me the idea that you can learn to do anything you want.  Since then, I’ve never met a craft I didn’t like. This includes making Barbie doll furniture and crocheting slippers as a kid,  to refinishing furniture and silkscreening sweatshirts in college. I definitely have a craft room, not a sewing room. 

I think I technically started quilting in about 2005 when I was given boxes and boxes of upholstery samples. I used these to start making throws and baby floor blankets for friends. They featured upholstery pieced fronts, flannel backs, fluffy polyester batting and satin blanket binding from the store! I was really just making it all up as I went. But they were cute and got a lot of use.

Quilting in earnest started 2015. I started mostly with baby quilts from simple patterns and liked using precuts.

In 2017, I joined SVMQG and was inspired by the range of quilts being shared by members…so many patterns, fabrics, techniques. Since joining, I have been in charge of Philanthropy, Challenges, and for the past 2 years been Treasurer. 

That same year, I did my first Quiltcon fabric challenge; this was my first experience at designing a quilt. Ripples shows my dogs swimming in the pool and remains one of my favorite projects. I’ve gone on to do a couple more of these challenges. I find the structure of the restrictions (use only these fabrics) a fun challenge to work within and I like designing unique pieces this way.

Another concept that came from my exposure within the guild, is the idea of improv quilting. This started with a couple of projects where I was given a few blocks that weren’t enough to construct a quilt. This gave me the opportunity to build around these blocks in an organic way, based on a loose plan,  that I enjoyed. I have since taken improv-based classes that have shown me how to build structure into an improv project to create a cohesive design.

2020 marked my first quilt-along with our mystery BOM. This gave me the opportunity to make my largest quilt to date, but more importantly a chance to work on my layout skills. I had fun designing about 4 different layouts from this set of blocks. I am definitely drawn to negative space and alternate grid layouts.

A class with Michelle Wilkie really opened my eyes on quilt design. I find myself thinking more and more about design, designing many quilts on my computer while only choosing a few to actually make.  I have several projects I want to finish this coming year, but quilting a series of original pieces inspired by a single photo is my big overall goal. 

Beyond quilting, my love for crafting continues. These days, my main focuses are all things paper craft, especially making shrines, splitting my time in the craft room between my sewing machine and my Cricut Maker. Currently, I’m working on a mini quilt for a guild challenge and crafting goodies for our virtual retreat.

Thank you, Rhonda, for sharing your quilting 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.

SVMQG Member Spotlight | Dianne Gates-Anderson

My Quilt Story in Photos

Author: Dianne Gates-Anderson, 2021 Guild Senior Vice President & Co-VP of Programs

Hi, I’m Dianne Gates-Anderson and I am the Executive Vice-President (or whatever the title is) and Co-VP of Programs for the Silicon Valley Modern Quilt Guild. 

When I am not quilting (and there’s not a pandemic) my other interests include travel, writing, and being a wanna-be foodie.  When I was asked to write this blog post, I thought the easiest and quickest way to write this blog would be to dig into my tub of precious (think old) quilts in my garage and put together a photo essay of my quilt story.  So, here is my quilt story and a few of my more recent quilts that I am most pleased with. Enjoy!

My quilt story actually begins with my grandmothers.  Both of my grandmothers were quilters and had sewing machines tucked away in the corner of their bedrooms.  They hand and machine pieced their quilt tops and hand quilted their quilts. Most evenings my Grandmothers were either quilting or crocheting. This is an unfinished quilt top made by my grandmother.  

This quilt was made by my mother and grandmother and given to me when I went away to college at age 18.  It may not be fancy by today’s standards but I look at this weathered quilt and see the hand stitching and know that these stitches were made for me and filled with love.

This is actually the first quilt top I ever made.  The year was 1982 and I was a newly graduated, newly married, young mother.  I made this quilt as a wedding gift to myself. It is 110 x 90 inches and was made to fit my king-size waterbed (remember those?).  The marriage didn’t last, but I kept the quilt and I have dragged it with me everywhere I’ve moved to through the years. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I made this. I saw a picture of the quilt on the cover of a magazine that I couldn’t afford to buy.  I made a pattern out of brown bags (no strip piecing here) and used ⅝ inch seam allowances.  I sandwiched the top with that awful super puff synthetic batting of the 80s and a king-size sheet and then gave up because I had no idea how to quilt it.

In 2015, after a 33 year hiatus I began quilting in earnest.  These two quilts are the first two quilts I made.  I made these quilts for my mother who has alzheimers.  I was motivated to make them when I did because I wanted my mother to be able to know that I made her a quilt.  The first quilt I made, a “Trip Around the World” quilt, was called Zoofari because of all of the faux animal print fabric in it.  I had enough leftover fabric to make the second completely improv quilt which I called Gee-Whiz, in a nod to the quilters of Gees Bend.  If you look too closely you’ll see that the quilts are a hot mess, because, once again, I taught myself (with the help of the internet) everything I used to make these quilts.  I didn’t know anything about borders so I attempted to put a “wide” binding on Zoofari and couldn’t figure out why my mitered 2 inch corners failed (they actually curl up).

I made this quilted wall hanging in response to a guild challenge to make a mini quilt that explores scale..

I made this quilt following the murder of George Floyd.  I was juried into the We Are the Story: Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality and Racism exhibition and it is now traveling with the exhibit.

This wall hanging is my latest finish and I am quite pleased with it. It is the class project from the Mid-Century Modern Curves class given by Carole Lyles Shaw.  After completing this quilt I realized that I can comfortably quilt a wall hanging sized quilt. I still tend to find larger quilts more challenging and tend to rely on straight line walking foot for anything larger than this piece.

Thanks Dianne for sharing your quilty 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.

QuiltCon 2021 Community Outreach Quilt

Author: Rochelle Rosales, 2020 Quiltcon Quilt Committee

“Data Drop”

This year’s QuiltCon Quilt Theme was CURVES. This fairly straightforward theme provided a lot of options for the design of our quilt. However, many of us were not very experienced with curves, and others were experienced enough with them to know that we didn’t like sewing them. But, as always, we forged ahead and established a committee to come up with a design and execution plan.

Planning and Design

The guild always tries to integrate our local area into our quilt design, whether representing our agricultural history, technology development, or the beauty of our local environment. We considered many ideas for this years quilt, keeping in mind the theme of curves and the color palette provided, some of our ideas included: integrated circuits, The Golden Gate Bridge, aerial views of orchards, California poppies, and representations of the sea, land, and ocean.

Challenge color palette

Ultimately, the winning idea was to create curve-based graphs or charts as quilt blocks. These could be circle charts, pie charts, curved linear graphs, and more. Members could choose any data set they wanted as long as it reflected our local area or state.

  • Quilt block guidelines:
    • Feature curves (any technique)
    • 11″ x 11″ finished block size
    • Use only fabric provided – Kona cotton solids in palette colors
      • Royal blue background (not to be used in chart)
    • Block must represent actual data
    • Data must be related to Silicon Valley or California


In addition to the challenge of designing and making the quilt, we had to distribute fabric, gather blocks, source quilting, and finish the quilt while sheltering in place, with no in-person meetings. We decided to host a Zoom meeting to help people who might be intimidated by either the data analysis or by piecing curves. We also distributed fabric via an online sign up form and by establishing distribution locations at member’s homes throughout the area.

Each member chose data that they wanted to show in their block. Some of the data is about the people who live in Santa Clara County, the San Francisco Bay Area, or California. Other blocks cover a wide range of data, like the growth of our guild, the rise of vote-by-mail over a number of elections, damage caused by the recent wild-fires, homelessness, and California water use. We were so impressed with the variety of both the data represented and the method of representing it.

Finishing the Quilt

We arranged the blocks in an off-grid layout with plenty of negative space. Our backing fabric was fun and colorful, we loved how it showed images of people, referring back to some of the census-type data shown in the blocks. We chose a large circular pattern using dark orange thread for the quilting, to echo the blocks and add to the graphic impact.

To bring home the theme of representing data, we even incorporated data into the binding, using fabric colors to show which counties our members live in.

CountyNo. of Members% of MembersBinding LengthBinding Color
Santa Clara6964%197Blue
San Mateo1514%43Dark Orange
Alameda1312%37Light Blue
Binding data

The quilt came out great. We love the bold colors, clean lines and overall graphic quality of the blocks and the layout. As always, many thanks to our members for making blocks, the organizing committee for the design and execution of the quilt, and to Lucky Penny Quilting for the quilting.

The Data

For those who are curious, hover over a block in the quilt below to see the data that is represented in the graph.

Quilt Block Data

Quilt Block Data

  • Acres burned in California for the past 5 years

  • Age distribution in Santa Clara County

  • Modes of transportation to work in San Francisco Bay area

  • Language spoken at home
    • US (outer)
    • Santa Clara Co. (inner)

  • Age distribution in Santa Clara County

  • Acres burned in 4 CA fires in summer 2020

  • Spoken Language in California

  • Silicon Valley age distribution
    • 24% - under 20
    • 29% - 20-39
    • 27% - 40-50
    • 16% - 60-79
    • 4% - 80+

  • Percentage of men vs women employed at Google
    • overall (outer)
    • management (middle)
    • executive (inner)

  • Applied water is used in California
    • 49% Aquatic Environment (rivers, managed wetlands, instream flows, required outflow)
    • 41% Agriculture
    • 10% Urban use.

  • Top 10 tech employers in Silicon Valley by number of employees
    • Google
    • Apple
    • Facebook
    • Cisco
    • Tesla
    • Applied Materials
    • Intel
    • Oracle
    • NVIDIA
    • Gilead/Juniper

  • Ethnic distribution of COVID-19 cases within the ethnic distribution of the population - for Santa Clara County
    • Covid-19 cases (center); population (outer)
    • Blacks/AfroAmerican = 4% Covid-19, 2% population
    • Whites/Caucasion = 30% Covid-19, 32% of population
    • Latinx = 34% Covid-19 cases, 26% population
    • Asian = 26% Covid-19 cases, 36% of population
    • Other/unknown = 6% Covid-19 cases, 4% population

  • Percent health insured for US, CA, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco

  • Education level in Santa Clara County
    • (grade school, high school, college, graduate, post grad)

  • SVMQG membership by year since inception

  • Adult education in Silicon Valley
    • 28% Bachelor's Degree
    • 25% graduate or professional
    • 22% Some college
    • 14% High School graduate
    • 11% Less than High School

  • Sources of power supplied by PG&E to Northern California
    • 33% Renewables
    • 27% Nuclear
    • 20% Natural Gas
    • 18% Hydroelectric
    • 2% Market Purchases.

  • Percentage of registered voters in Santa Clara County, who voted in person vs by mail, in presidential elections since the year 2000

  • Ethnic diversity of Cupertino
    • 67% Asian
    • 27% white
    • 3% mixed race
    • 2% other
    • 1% black

  • Race percentages of those experiencing homelessness per 2016 HMIS data.

  • Marital status in Santa Clara County
    • 55% married
    • 45% single

  • Amount spent on homeless services per category
    • Health care 53%
    • Justice system 34%
    • Social services 13%

  • Percentage of police killings in the San Francisco since January 2015
    • Asian - 10% of killings, 34% of population
    • Latin - 27% of killings, 20% of population
    • Black - 27% of killings, 7.4% of population
    • White - 32% of killings, 37% of population

  • Primary language spoken at home
    • Santa Clara County (center); United States (outer)
    • English = 46% SCC, 78% US
    • Spanish = 18% SCC, 13% US
    • Asian/Pacific Islander = 26% SCC, 4% US
    • Other IndoEuropean = 9% SCC, 4% US
    • Other = 1% both

  • Ethnicity in Santa Clara County

  • Median incomes for the cities bordering Cupertino
    • Los Altos - $216k
    • Saratoga - $173k
    • Sunnyvale - $118k
    • Santa Clara - $108k
    • San Jose - $104k

  • Age demographics for the homeless population in San Jose, including minors without adults

  • Where the homeless population in San Jose are living (Outside, car, abandon building, shelter, etc.)

Make It Modern!

Author: Amanda Morris, 2021 Programs, Co-Vice President

Welcome to another exciting year of Guild programs. This year we want to get back to our roots with a year long exploration of modern quilting elements.  We’ve designed our programs to give everyone an opportunity to show off their “go-to” modern quilting skills as well as experiment with new skills that might not have been tried before.

To get started, we feel it’s important to give everyone the same reference point. Though two people might differ on determining how “modern” a quilt is, they can certainly both recognize the common design elements that differentiate modern quilts from traditional quilts. For our work this year we’re going to consider the following elements as our foundation to Make It Modern.

Alternate Gridwork

Sarah O. | 2018

Alternative Gridwork serves to break up the predictable nature of a standard grid. It creates visual tension as the left side of the brain seeks to recognize a pattern and a rhythm to the block layout. It’s a useful tool to move the viewer’s eye around the layout of the quilt as they seek out that pattern.

Notice, in Sarah’s quilt, how your brain wants to line up the colorful ovals and the outlined ovals, with the offset grid laid down in the quilting.


Similar to alternative gridwork, our brains naturally seek out symmetry as a way to organize the information received from the eyes.  Asymmetry is a useful tool to draw the viewer’s attention throughout the quilt as it seeks balance.

Kathleen’s quilt is a great example of Asymmetry, and yet she’s also achieved a wonderful balance between the active blocks and the weight of the dark background.

Kathleen C. | 2020

Dense Quilting

Barbara E. | 2018

Dense quilting creates an overlay of both texture and pattern that is separate from those same elements derived from the piecing and fabric selection. This is a useful tool to enhance the story you are telling with the piecing. 

Barbara has used her dense quilting as a wonderful contrast to the pieced blocks.

Graphic Layout

Bold graphic shapes and high contrast palettes are the most common elements of modern quilting.

Looking at Kathy’s quilt, we see she has used bold, diagonal elements which imply a lot of movement. She’s got high contrast with her white background and the vertical columns of black to navy piecing which are crossed with more diagonal elements in bright, high-saturated colors.

Kathy S. | 2019


Beverly T. | 2018

Improvisation is a tool often used by modern quilters as a way to break the mould of traditional quilting. Improv embraces the concept of Wabi-Sabi and frees us from the expectations of perfectly straight seams and precise points.

Bev has used a creamy neutral as her main fabric while delegating the red ombre fabric as the background.  The parallel quilting combined with the organic piecing produce a wonderful sculptural effect.


Maximalism is all about aesthetic excess. It is the boldest of statements in the loudest of voices. In a maximalism quilt, even the background fabric has something to say.

Looking at Annette’s quilt we see bold gestures in each of  the rainbow ribbons. The echoed lines of the quilting imply the ribbons are moving or vibrating.

Annette B. | 2021


Amy C. | 2020

Minimalism is the act of reducing the elements of your quilt down to the purest expression of your concept. The minimalist artist is always asking, “If I remove this element, does the design stand or fall apart?”

Amy has diligently designed each of her Disney inspired blocks utilizing Minimalism.  You can see in this photo that she has pared down the colors and shapes to the point that the character’s face isn’t necessary to know immediately the reference being made.

The updated colors and graphics in modern prints also serve to reinforce the concepts of modern quilting while adding pattern and contrast.

Katie’s use of modern prints create a subtle rippling effect in the horizontal bands, while the overall color saturation of the modern prints serves to pop the bands forward from the neutral background.

Modern Prints

Katie F. | 2020

Modern Traditionalism

Modern quilting has its roots in the traditional patterns and methods that came before us. Taking a traditional block and updating it or manipulating it in a new way creates a sense of play and experimentation in a modern quilt.

Veronique’s quilt evokes a cartoon animation of a traditional block expanding and floating away.

Veronique O. | 2019

No Borders

Amanda M. | 2019

In contrast with the borders typically found on traditional quilts, modern quilters often forego a quilt border; choosing instead to let the graphic nature of their designs stand on their own over the entirety of the quilt surface.

Notice how the shibori patterns in Amanda’s quilt could continue indefinitely because they are not constrained by a border.

Play on Scale

Making the expected, unexpected through play on scale is a common tool of modern quilting.  An exaggerated scale can create a sense of play or, when combined with several sizes of the same block, can create a sense of depth of field against the negative space of the quilt, as seen in Tricialyn’s quilt.

Tricialyn A. | 2018

Solid Fabric

Rhonda R., Rochelle R. | 2018

The use of solid fabrics helps reinforce the graphic nature of modern quilt designs. Though typically seen as a flat shape, a sense of transparency can be achieved through subtle shifts of solid colors adding a sense of 3 dimensional depth. In the same way, an artist can play with the warmth and coolness of color to “push it forward” or “send it backwards.”  This effect is much more dramatic in solid fabrics than in prints due to the saturation of color inherent in solids.

The colors in Rhonda and Rochelle’s quilt are playing off each other in unexpected ways..  The background fabric is warm and therefore wants to come forward. The shaped pieces are all cool versions of navy, pink and green and would therefore be expected to visually recede.  Yet, despite their coolness, the intense saturation of the pieces pop them forward of the background.  The result is a delightful tug of war between the pieces and the backdrop.

Vast Use of Negative Space

The use of a vast field of negative space serves many purposes in a modern quilt. You can’t have a “positive” without a “negative” to contrast against.  In this way, the negative space serves as a backdrop for the more “meaty” focal point. This also gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest when the focal point of the quilt is more loud and boisterous. 

Jennifer’s quilt implies a sense of volume that holds the smaller hexagons as they float away from their fellow hexies.

Jennifer K. | 2018

I think this list gives us plenty to talk about in our year long conversation about what it takes to ‘Make It Modern!’  Now the fun part begins. 

Throughout the year, I encourage you to do some self assessment.  Periodically ask yourself:

  • Where is my comfort zone on the modern quilt spectrum?
  • What are my ‘go-to’ modern quilting skills?
  • What are my weaker skills?
  • Do I want to challenge myself to strengthen those weaker skills?

Above all, have fun playing with the elements of modern quilting.

Meet the 2021 Programs Team!

Author: Dianne Gates-Anderson, 2021 Programs, Co-Vice President

In just one year, the SVMQG Programs Team has grown from two people in 2020 to a team of nine in 2021, as we expand our offerings to support our growing organization.  Our goal is to provide a variety of activities so each guild member can pick and choose to do those activities that best support their personal quilting goals.  We want to help our members improve their skills, challenge themselves and stay connected with each other during these trying times. 

The team is led by Co-Vice Presidents, Dianne Gates Anderson and Amanda Morris. In addition to their roles on the Board of Directors, Dianne and Amanda are both leading specific efforts within the Programs team.

Dianne G., Programs Co-VP | Monthly Meetings & Self-Guided Learning Teams

  • Quilting for 6 years
  • Member of SVMQG for 3 years

Below are Dianne’s first quilt and her favorite quilt recipient (her Mother).

Join Dianne each month at our Monthly Guild Meetings where we’ll host guest speakers, member-led lectures and demos, and so much more.

Amanda M., Programs Co-VP | Challenges & Passports

  • Technically quilting for 10 yrs., but really 5
  • Member of SVMQG for 5 years

Amanda’s favorite modern quilters are Bisa Butler and Erin Wilson

Collect Guild Passport stamps and badges and challenge yourself with Amanda!

Beverly T. | Digital Thursdays

  • Quilting since 1993.  “A friend and I decided to take up quilting for stress relief.  I have been garment sewing since I was about 10.”
  • Member of SVMQG for about 4 years 

Bev has numerous projects in the works, below is an FPP block she recently finished.

Get to know Bev at an upcoming Digital Thursday Sew-along, Show & Tell, or other SVMQG Digital event.

Heidi M. | Workshops

  • Quilting since the 80’s. “I made a patchwork pillow and quilt in the 80s, but took it up as my main hobby in 2010.”
  • Member of SVMQG for about 5 years

Heidi’s dream teacher is Jacquie Gering.

Heidi recently started a small challenge called “Art on the farm.” The next step is to add embroidery and quilting.

Join Heidi for a Workshop or give her a shout if there’s a teacher you’d love to see at our guild!

Rhonda R. | Working In A Series, Self-Guided Learning Team

  • Quilting 5+ years
  • Member of SVMQG since 2017

Rhonda’s 2021 goals include finishing a couple of UFOs and working on quilt design.

“Beachside Burning” made by Rhonda, inspired by a photo of the Thomas Fire

Stop by an upcoming Self-Guided Learning Team event where Rhonda will co-lead with Amanda on the Working in a Series team.

Liz C. | Quilty Happenings

  • Quilting for 17 years
  • Member of SVMQG since 2018

Liz’s favorite quilting classes ever are two very different landscape quilting classes, taught by Cynthia England and June Jaeger. These classes taught her how to generate an art quilt from a photograph. Liz has found that knowing both techniques is powerful.

Liz is always looking for a new fun class to add to our list of Quilty Happenings. Give us your insights via our guild forum and she’ll pass them along to the rest of us at our next monthly meeting.

Kathy S. | Exchanges

  • Quilting for 15 years
  • Member of SVMQG for 6 years, right from the beginning. 

Kathy is currently working on an improv design with Maria Shell inspiration.  Below are her pieces.  She is now ready for the design wall and filling in the rest. 

Kathy:  “I love the process!”

Interested in a swap or exchange? Kathy will be hosting a handful throughout the year starting with a Mini-Mod Exchange starting in March.

Michele D. | BOM

  • Quilting for 19 years
  • Member of SVMQG since its beginning in 2014

The words Michele uses to describe her work are: Scrappy, Organic, Wonky, and Movement

Pop into one of Michele’s BOM Sew Labs hosted the third Thursday of the month or our BOM themed Sew Day on the third Saturday of each month.

Carolyn B. | Virtual Sew Days

  • Quilting for 4 years or so
  • Member of SVMQG since May of last year

The virtual retreat was a highlight of last year for Carolyn and she looks forward to the retreat again this year.

Carolyn made this quilt for her son’s birthday gift last August

Sew and chat the day away with Carolyn each Saturday at our guild Sew Days.

Many thanks to our amazing Programs team for putting together such wonderful and varied content for the guild this year! We are all looking forward to a great year working with these creative folks on everything from lectures to workshops and from block-of-the-month to open sew days. 

It’s going to be a great year!

Wrapping up 2020

Well, 2020 was an interesting year for the world.

For our guild, it was a year of firsts… we held our first online Guild Meeting in March, with little notice and just a can-do attitude. The topic of this first virtual meeting was Using Social Media as we saw the need to help members navigate and connect online. However, even in that first online meeting, we were still talking about summer potlucks and group activities.

Sadly, those events were not to be, and our first virtual meeting was followed shortly thereafter by our first online Sew Day and even our first Virtual Retreat. We took on the challenges presented by Shelter-In-Place and not only did we continue to provide the same content to our members that we always had, we added programming in our new Digital Thursdays series, to ensure our members were connecting and engaging with the guild. We even hosted our first guild BOM!

In some ways, this new world was just a different venue and we simply switched from holding up items and passing them around, to posting photos and commenting online, and we forged ahead. Speakers like Mel Beach quickly pivoted to presenting her lecture and trunk show online as we saw in our first Zoom guest lecture in April. Member-led topics, like Quilt Labeling, Scrappy project techniques, and Quilt Design app reviews, were conducted in slides with photos, screenshots, and shared links to resources.

In other ways, the online format opened up new opportunities for speakers and guests that previously would have been difficult and costly to book in person. Guest speakers included Christina Cameli and Sam Hunter leading us in a discussion about The Creative Process, an Aurifilosophy lecture by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill, and everything we ever wanted to know about batting from The Batty Lady.

We must have done something right because our membership grew from 67 members in March, when we held our first Zoom meeting, to 107 members at the end of the year. Members joined from other parts of California and even other states, as we provided content in a community where many were struggling with the new format.

It seems so long ago that we all sat together in February, without masks, eating snacks and touching quilts… we have come a long way in a short time and, while we are proud of how our leaders and members stepped up in these challenging times, we are looking forward to seeing everyone again in person… here’s hoping for that in 2021!

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

We couldn’t end the year without thanking all of our wonderful sponsors who made so much of the past year possible.

As a non-profit, we rely heavily upon donations to raise funds for guild programming, augment charitable activities, and execute our annual retreat. Every year we are overwhelmed by the generosity of our sponsors who give us so many wonderful donations that we then convert into finished projects and revenue for the guild.

Many of the materials we received this year went into baskets which were used to raise funds which supplement membership dues in paying for our educational and charitable programs.

basket sponsors

A highlight of our virtual retreat this year was the goody bags attendees received at their homes. Not being able to see each other in-person, the treats and activities in our goody bags anchored the retreat in the real world and enhanced our shared experience.

retreat goody bag sponsors

Throughout the year we award prizes for achievements or just for showing up! These special treats for our members wouldn’t be possible without the donations we receive.

retreat prize bundle donors

Thanks also to our members who consistently thank our sponsors for their support by tagging their products and the amazing projects they make with them. We want them know how much our guild appreciates their generosity.

Working with Maria Shell on Linear Shapes and Blocks

For our first online workshop, the guild hosted Maria Shell for her workshop “Linear Blocks – Line Into Shape.”

In this 2-day class, participants with a set color palette to create linear shapes that they then used to create larger blocks and shapes. Traditional linear block shapes, like the log cabin or cross, were used as starting points for strikingly graphic original compositions. Techniques discussed in the class included improvisation, modern quilt design, pattern, and color.

Fruit Salad by Maria Shell

The sold-out workshop was held over 2 consecutive Saturdays, with time for practice in between the classes. Immediately after each class, students jumped into our weekly Zoom Sew Day and continued working on their projects. The week-long interim allowed students to create their shapes and building blocks and get more out of the class time spent with Maria.

Students were thrilled with the workshop and it’s been great to see their finished work as they complete their class projects and use these skills in their work going forward.

Going Digital

Following the success of our online Guild Meeting and Virtual Retreat, both held over Zoom, guild leadership saw the continued need for members to meet online to enable those personal connections that are so difficult to maintain in these trying times.

As we finalized how to adjust the monthly Guild Meeting to our new online digital format, we saw that some of the in-person content would have to be cut. Specifically, Show & Tell and group activities would be challenging to fit into the 2-hour monthly format and/or could be chaotic in a group of 50 or so members meeting over Zoom.

SVMQG Digital

Our monthly Guild Meeting is held on the 2nd Thursday of the month so we quickly programmed content for every Thursday of the month.  Introducing “Digital Thursdays to the guild and branding our overall online presence as SVMQG Digital.

Virtual Show & Tell

We decided to dedicate one evening each month to a Show & Tell session where members could upload photos for a slideshow or hold up items live for all to see. As with “traditional” Show & Tell, members could share about their items, take questions, and we could all “ooh” and “ahh” and celebrate their great work. 

We are even hosting a few “spotlight” sessions where one member can share a special series of projects or body of work with the group. In this way, we are taking advantage of the extended time allotted for this dedicated sharing session. 

Rotating Topics

With two Thursdays booked, we added another recurring event for Block-of-the-Month help, and that leaves us with 1-2 Thursdays each month for unique programming.

1st ThursdayRotating Topic
2nd ThursdayMonthly Meeting
3rd ThursdayBOM Lab
4th ThursdayShow & Tell
5th ThursdayRotating Topic

The Virtual Retreat had some great moments of member participation and connection with activities like “Ask the Quilter” or “Coffee Talks.” We are building on these, by programming events focusing on discussion, design help, or communal sewing. 

Last month we hosted a Social Media Skills Lab, where our VP of Communications walked members through posting on Instagram and navigating our Facebook pages. At our How Do I Quilt This? session, members posted photos of quilt tops and the group brainstormed suggestions for quilting designs. 

Upcoming topics include: 

  • Tabletop Quilt Show
  • Organizing Your Scraps
  • Steering Wheel Cover Sew-Along 


With the introduction of Digital Thursdays and weekend Digital Sew Days, our “SVMQG Digital” offerings include 2 events each week for members to connect and and create from the safety of their own homes. 

Hosting a Virtual Retreat

When it became unavoidable that our annual spring sewing retreat in May would have to be canceled, we were sad and disappointed. Many of us look forward to retreat each year as an opportunity to get away from our daily lives and sew in the company of our fellow guild members.

It was amazing, and so much fun. It really felt like a real retreat, which I was not expecting. Loved it ❤️


However, in the same board meeting where we cancelled the retreat, we immediately started planning an online “virtual” retreat for the same dates. We formed a committee and quickly established an overall cadence for sync ups, individual and group activities and, of course, plenty of free sewing time.

We amped up the goody bags so that participants felt special and had something physical to anchor them to the event, and charged a nominal fee for the event to cover our time and expenses. We expected most of the activity to be open sewing, but we organized some group events to ensure that we connected with other members for discussions and sharing. We also included some group sewing projects like charity blocks and shared projects where we all made the same thing using materials provided in the goody bag.

goody bag contents

This was a joyous event to remember!


After a kick-off event via Zoom, where we walked through the high-level schedule, introduced group projects, and went over some basic Zoom etiquette, we simply left the Zoom “sewing room” open 24/7 for people to come and go as their individual schedules allowed. The overall schedule was flexible with some group events and a variety of conversation check-ins and show & tell to be sure that people felt connected with each other in this virtual format. Daily emails and Instagram posts kept everyone informed and on track for the days activities.

The entire event was pulled together with our dedicated website which provided all of the details for the Daily Schedule, Group and Individual Activities, and a fun “scavenger hunt” game to motivate members to connect and create.

I loved the sense of community this event brought to the entire guild.

One of the highlights of the weekend was our daily “cocktail hour” led by a guest mixologist/friend-of-the-guild, where we used ingredients prepped ahead of time via a shopping list provided in the Goody bag. These cocktails were a fun and delicious way to take a break from sewing and start our evenings together.

Another fun group event was a spa mask that was provided in the goody bag. We all got to relax and laugh a little as we donned our masks and took a minute to sit back from our machines and relax.

It filled me up in a way that I so needed at this time.


Over half of our membership attended the retreat and some of the events were better attended that our online meetings at that time. The retreat officially ended on Sunday afternoon, but some members stayed in the “sewing room” until after midnight that day! We definitely learned some lessons for next time, everyone provided great feedback on the event and the vast majority of members said they would attend another Virtual Retreat in the future.

Starting with the hand delivery of Goody Bags to each member and ending with a Wrap-Up Celebration drawing prizes and thanking our dedicated volunteers, our Virtual Retreat was an overwhelming success. We felt so strongly about the positive experience that we quickly scheduled a webinar to share our experience with other leaders in the quilting community.

It will be sad when things go quiet again at home. This retreat has been such a treat 🌈😀