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 🌈😀

2020 QuiltCon Charity Quilt

the finished quilt, at the Museum of Computing

The MQG Charity Quilt Challenge for 2020 presented us with a design theme of “TEXT” and a palette of grayscale.  At first glance, we weren’t overly enthusiastic with the palette.  This was a big departure from the colorful quilts of past challenges.


The design committee discussed representing newsprint, messages, greetings, and other text elements.

The committee has always chosen a design that is somehow relevant to our Silicon Valley roots. A group of members brainstormed the idea of writing a message in binary code, which represents text using a two-symbol system of “0s” and “1s” in sets of 8 numbers. Specifically, writing “Hello, World!” referring to the test message used by programmers to show understanding of a computer language or functionality of a computer. For example, the “H” is coded a “01001000.” There were concerns around whether people would understand the message and its meaning, but we resolved to make that clear in our documentation and to give them a helpful translation in the quilting.

Once the concept was explained to all, our design was launched.  We chose to use solids only with a black background and gray or white lettering to make the message clean and to more closely resemble a computer screen.  We included large top and bottom borders to allow for the quilting which included the text “Hello” above the binary code and “World” below it, to provide a handy translation of the message in the white quilting stitches.


The committee calculated the qty of each number needed and added in some buffer for spares. Each guild member was asked to create either a “1” or a “0” digit in a 6” square block, using fabric provided by the guild and a placement guide to ensure an even border around each digit.  Members were encouraged to be creative in the design of the digit, while adhering to some general guidelines, and all techniques were allowed. The variation in the color and design of each digit was intentional and part of the modern design.

block instructions

Blocks and Assembly

Blocks were collected at guild meetings and we were thrilled with the variety of the characters provided. Even with such a simple prompt, members made a wide range of different blocks. We received everything from detailed characters with a serif to simple geometric shapes, and we loved them all.

member blocks

The assembly committee carefully spelled out the binary code and put together the final layout. Since they were recreating code, this was a layout that had to be checked and double-checked for accuracy. The committee had to work within these limits to create a balanced quilt top layout.

the letter “R”
“writing” the code

One of our members quilted the top, implementing straight lines to resemble the resolution on a computer screen.

finished quilt, quilting by Cynthia Wheeler

QuiltCon 2020!

Our quilt was displayed at the 2020 QuiltCon in Austin Texas.  We were delighted that Mary Fons featured it in her walking tour of the quilt floor, even though she called us “nerdy.” 😉

Quiltcon 2020 special exhibit tour with Mary Fons, video by Karen Foster

As always, thanks to everyone who made a block to contribute to the quilt. Special thanks to member, Cynthia Williams for quilting the quilt. And many thanks to our committee members for their creative and organizational efforts.

“Hello, World!”

  • H = 01001000
  • E = 01100101
  • L = 01101100
  • L = 01101100
  • O = 01101111
  • , = 00101100
  • <sp> = 00100000
  • W = 01010111
  • O = 01101111
  • R = 01110010
  • L = 01101100
  • D = 01100100
  • ! = 00100001

Big Stitch Hand Quilting with Tara Faughnan

We finished out 2019 with a 1/2 day workshop on Big Stitch Hand Quilting taught by Tara Faughnan.

Tara started out by showing us her own beautiful hand quilted work. She discussed her technique with regard to both stitch size and quilting design, and how she incorporates these to add depth and interest to her quilts.

Then, she taught us about different types of hand quilting threads in a variety of materials, sizes, even some sparkly metallics! Along with the thread, Tara shared her insights on needles, marking tools, even hoops (or the lack thereof).

Finally, we reviewed some stitching techniques and then got to stitching…

What a lovely way to spend a December afternoon… Thanks so much Tara! Tara Faughnan can be reached at tarafaughnan.com

Graphic Design & Triangles with Rebecca Bryan

Rebecca Bryan, of Bryan House Quilts, visited our guild in September to deliver a lecture on graphic design in quilts and teach a class on Design Improv with Triangles.

Rebecca is well known to MQG audiences for her beautiful and graphically striking quilts as well as her two books, Modern Rainbow and Modern Triangle Quilts.

At her lecture and trunk show, A Quilter’s Guide to Graphic Design: Modern Triangle Trunk Show & Lecture, Rebecca walked us through some basic graphic design concepts and vocabulary. She showed many of her quilts from Modern Triangle Quilts and explained the graphic design elements within them, from inspiration to design and execution.

Rebecca’s workshop, Design Improv with Triangles, we took what we had learned in the lecture and applied it to designing our own triangle blocks. Rebecca further discussed the graphic elements of line, texture, scale, and framing and showed us how to experiment with them in this simple shape.

Many thanks to Rebecca for a wonderful lecture and workshop. Rebecca can be reached at https://bryanhousequilts.com.

A Visit from Giucy-Giuce


IMG_0859This month our guild was thrilled to host Giuseppe Ribaudo (aka Giucy-Giuce) at our monthly meeting and weekend workshop.

First, Giucy-Giuce came to our monthly meeting to share about his personal creative journey from learning to sew to working at Andover Fabrics to releasing his own fabric collections! As he spoke, he went through a trunk show of his iconic quilts.


The following weekend, some of us joined Giucy-Giuce for a Workshop on Quilt Photography and Branding. The workshop started with Giuseppe’s tips for taking great photographs of our quilts and projects, followed by a discussion of personal branding. We then left the classroom and took photos of our projects in the “wild” on the Google campus. With Giucy-Giuce providing guidance and suggestions, we got some great shots!

Many thanks to Giuseppe Ribaudo for a great visit!


2019 Retreat Recap


For our 5th annual sewing retreat we gathered at the St Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista to sew, dine, socialize, and maybe even do a little dancing. The retreat center is set back in the mountains and was a peaceful and beautiful place to spend the weekend.  Members were welcomed with guild-themed goodie bags filled with treats from our generous sponsors. Some of our members also contributed to our goodie bags which was much appreciated! Amanda embroidered sewing themed patches which were a big hit! Rhonda contributed big plastic binding spools which were put to use right away by a few people on the finishing stages of their projects. Rochelle, Rhonda, Renee and Jenny made some adorable cell phone cushions and almost everyone had them set up conveniently at their stations right from the start! Thanks everyone!

This year one of our charity projects was to make a bed quilt for the St Francis Retreat Center.  Everyone was asked to bring strips of fabric in shades of blue from light to dark.  From those we each made a few foundation blocks.  By the end of the weekend we had a completed quilt top. 

st francis charity quilt

As always, we raffled off prize baskets to raise money for the guild. This year the baskets were better than ever, filled to the brim with tons of fabric, notions, patterns, books, and much much more from our amazing sponsors. The guild received a record-breaking amount of money and 7 lucky winners went home with some amazing prizes. Thank you again to our generous sponsors!

This year each member was given a charm holder with a clay pinwheel charm in our guild colors.  We completed tasks to earn sewing related charms throughout the weekend.  Everyone had fun completed tasks to earn more charms.  The competition for first person and last person in the sewing room was fierce but fun! Two members who took one of each prize met at 4am (1 person just arriving and 1 who had not left yet from the night before) so you could say there was sewing happening around the clock!

We also had fun playing BINGO throughout the weekend.  Prizes were awarded to the first BINGO of the day and a grand prize for the first black out. We saw a little competitive spirit in a few of our members who were ready to yell out BINGO at the stroke of midnight, just to be the first one to win for the day.  In the end Tricialyn won the blackout. Well done!

Rochelle and Rhonda spent time taking photos of quilts and completed projects.  They were happy to share their expertise and assist anyone in getting the perfect picture of their completed items.

In the end, we come to retreat to SEW. And our members did a lot of sewing and quilting. As a group, we got a lot done and had so much fun doing it!

MPD Appreciation Quilt


For the past 2 years, our guild has been hosted at the Milpitas Police Department Community Room for our monthly guild meetings and open sew days. Mid-2016, we lost our meeting space at a local quilt shop, and we struggled to find a venue that met our size, location, and schedule requirements, as well as being within our limited budget. So, we were thrilled when we found all of these at the Community Room connected to the Milpitas PD Station. We are very appreciative that the Police Department makes this space available to us and we wanted to show our thanks in a way that expressed our gratitude and spoke to who we are as a group.

We decided to thank the MPD with a quilt banner. After tossing around a few ideas, we settled on an American flag design using patchwork blocks for the stripes and replacing the stars with a single police badge star.

The project was a true group effort. We asked for fabric donations in a Red, White, and Blue palette, which we curated for the quilt blocks. We then asked members to make 3” finished mono-color blocks, signing out blocks to ensure we had enough of each color for the finished top. Blocks ranged from traditional to improv, which we laid out and assembled into a flag at our guild retreat.


The police department initials were machine-appliqued onto the silver star which was then hand-appliqued onto the blue field of the finished quilt top. Quilting and a faced binding finished the banner.


We presented the banner to the Police Chief late last year and were very pleased with how much the officers liked it. We expected to see it hanging on a wall in our meeting room, or in a corner of their offices. We were thrilled to see that the MPD had mounted and framed the banner with a lovely plaque acknowledging our gift. In February, a group of officers allowed us to enter the station and we were truly honored to see that it was hung in their main hallway for all to see.



Our goal was to express our gratitude to the MPD for allowing us to meet in their Community Room, based upon their response we think we got our point across. We look forward to many more years meeting at the Community Room.

2018 Year in Review

This was a busy year for our guild. We continued to grow our membership, share and learn new skills, and give back to the community.

Founding member Tricialyn led the guild in informative lectures focusing on Design Elements, including Texture, Color, and Scale. These topics were discussed as a group and integrated into guild challenges and activities.

We exceeded our fundraising goal this year, raising money through sponsor baskets, mini quilt raffles, and boutique sales. We are excited about putting those funds back into the guild this year in the form of speakers and activities. Thank you again to all of our generous sponsors.

We also far exceeded our goal for charitable activities, donating 25 completed quilts to 9 different local and national charities. In addition to finished quilts, we donated fabric and quilting materials to local charities and we have a head-start on 2019 with some unfinished quilts. Plus, at the end of the year, the guild made over 50 tote bags for the Bill Wilson Center to be given to at-risk youth throughout the coming year.

Focusing on our commitment to ongoing education, the guild sponsored three workshops in 2018. First, Sherri Lynn Wood taught a structured improv technique in her Improvising from a Score Workshop. Continuing on the improv theme, we learned to piece and layout curves in Karen Foster’s Improv Abstraction Workshop. We wrapped the year up with a Beginning Fabric Dyeing Workshop with Lynn Koolish. Additionally, we held member-led demonstrations throughout the year that included Reverse Applique, Wefty Needles, and Surface Finish Techniques.

On top of all of this, we participated in our first quilt show, showing a collection of modern quilts at the semi-annual Piecemakers Quilt Show! This was a thrill for the guild as we were able to showcase modern quilting at a traditional quilt show. Now that we’ve got a taste for it, we definitely plan to do more shows in the future.

Overall, it was a great year and we are excited for an even better 2019!

2017 Spring Retreat: Special Thanks!

We had a fabulous time at our retreat this past month. It wouldn’t have been possible without our many sponsors who provided so many fun goodies for our members.

A giant thank you to each and every one of you! We appreciate you and your contributions to our guild!


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