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!

Welcoming 2021

Author: Sarah Osentowski, 2021 Guild President

It’s odd to come out of a very confusing and unprecedented year like 2020 excited about what lies ahead in 2021, but I have to admit that is what I’m feeling. In the face of the chaos of the pandemic, our guild’s 2020 leadership team really stepped up and took on an incredible challenge. We continued to meet virtually to host not only our monthly meetings but a virtual retreat and a new series of digital Thursday evening events that have added so much valuable content and points of engagement for our group over the past year. 

As I take on my second, non-consecutive, year as a President of the guild I am in the unique position to have already led, watched and cheered on others as they took on that leadership role, and to then take on the role of leading again. I’m unsure that kind of experience happens often but it’s given me a lot of perspective on how I wanted to shape the upcoming year. 

My vision for the guild in 2021 will focus on supporting our growing membership, celebrating how far we’ve come, and continuing to highlight modern quilting.

More Members, More Support

Over the last year we watched our guild grow faster and larger than it’s ever been. With the guild blooming to over 100 members, it was time to act fast and start thinking about how to restructure our internal leadership teams to support that growth. 

We responded quickly, putting out a call in September to gather members interested in taking on new leadership roles for the coming year. The response was great and we were able to create a new, larger and more robust internal Leadership Team structure.

We’re excited to have new leaders help take on the workload to support our growing guild. Additionally, having more voices in conversations around planning has already been rewarding, resulting in new program offerings, revamping our digital Passport, and a (coming soon) member forum. I’m excited to see where this group takes us over the course of this next year.

Celebrate Our Successes

In the past few years we’ve spent a lot of our time focused on establishing ourselves as a guild, developing amazing programs, and cultivating member engagement. All of that legwork has served, and will continue to serve, as a blueprint for how we function as a guild but now it’s time to shine a light on our members. Our members are what makes us a guild and without them we wouldn’t have the ideas, the content, or the support to lead our programs and run a successful group.

This year we’re hoping to feature more of our members on our social media. We’d like to post more blogs to show off their work and hear their perspectives. We’re building out more time in meetings to hear more individual voices. Additionally, we’re going to encourage our members to showcase their modern quilts in quilt shows for others to see and appreciate. 

Highlight Modern Quilting

It’s important to remember what makes this guild different from so many others in our area in that we are a part of The Modern Quilt Guild. I think we go into every year with the goal of making sure we’re aligning with what it means to be “modern“ but this year we’re going to make sure we sprinkle it into everything we do.

We will continue to explore what it means to be modern as defined by our members and showcase more modern quilts in meetings. Our Programs team is going to ensure that the content we’re sharing ties more closely to modern techniques and concepts.

I’m sure it will continue to be a challenge to navigate this uncertain time and all that this next year brings, but I’m excited to take it on. If you’re a member, I hope you join us in our one or more of our many new programs and meetings we’re offering this year. If you’re visiting and excited about what we have in store, I encourage you to join us or follow along with us on our Instagram and Facebook pages.


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!

2020 BOM Round-Up

This year we introduced a formal guild Block of the Month program lead by BOM leader, Kathy S. The start of the program was a bit of a mystery with members picking out fabric palettes in January and then building a series of blocks from February through July.

As part of our SVMQG Digital events on the third Thursday evening of each month, Kathy hosted a BOM Sew Lab where members would bring their latest blocks and sit and sew or ask questions and get feedback from Kathy and other participating members.

It was nice to have some dedicated time to meet up and talk about the BOM together as a group at the Digital Thursday BOM Sew Lab.

In August, members were encouraged to play around with design and layout.

By the December meeting, where members were asked to bring their finished quilts, we had over 20 members show their finished BOM quilts! For a first time program, this was a huge hit.

We think a few key factors helped in making this year’s BOM a big success.

  1. Keeping the blocks simple provided an easy barrier of entry into the project for any member.
  2. Focusing on design concepts and layout helped build discussion around Modern Quilting and encourage members to “play” and “explore.”
  3. Hosting a live BOM Lab each month provided members with help on tricky blocks and a resource for feedback and advice.
  4. Having a 2020 BOM page on the website to list block instructions, steps, and information was also a great help as we continued to navigate programs in a new strictly virtual world.

We hope to see more BOM programming on the list for next years guild agenda!

Challenging Ourselves in 2020

Our Programs team did a great job of keeping our hands busy and our minds challenged while we worked through different Challenge prompts each month.

  • Challenge #1 (Jan) – Play Around with Quilting Designs
  • Challenge #2 (Feb) – Finish a 2+ year old UFO
  • Challenge #3 (Mar) – Spring Clean Your Sewing Space
  • Challenge #4 (Apr) – Front Porch Quilt Show
  • Challenge #5 (May) – Sew a Rainbow
  • Challenge #6 (June) – Make a Tabletop Sewn Item
  • Challenge #7 (July) – Show Off Your Quilt Labels
  • Challenge #8 (August) – Show Us How You Overcame Being Creatively Stuck
  • Challenge #9 (September) – Show Us Multiple BOM Layout Options
  • Challenge #10 (October) – Make a Project Using On-hand Scraps
  • Challenge #11 (November) – Make a 2020 “Mask to Remember”

Each challenge was unique, and usually tied to a program theme running that month. All of them encouraged members to shake off those uncertain 2020 vibes we were feeling each month.

Challenge #1 (Jan) – Play Around with Quilting Designs

Members were given a transparency cover sheet, an image of a quilt, and a dry erase marker and were encouraged to practice drawing different quilting designs on the transparent surface. Designs for similar quilts resulted in vastly different looks.

Challenge #2 (Feb) – Finish a 2+ year old UFO

This one was simple. Dig out an unfinished object (UFO) and finish it up.

Quilt by Jenny W.
Quilt by Rachel P.

Challenge #3 (Mar) – Spring Clean Your Sewing Space

We know our sewing spaces deserved a little love this Spring and with more time on our hands due to the shelter in place orders, we had the time to dig in. Members loved this challenge and we watched many transformations happen in many sewing spaces.

Rhonda’s “Before”
Rhonda’s “After”

Challenge #4 (Apr) – Front Porch Quilt Show

Since we were missing going to quilt shows, and spending way too much time in our own homes, we thought we’d cheer up our neighbors (who were now all really into taking walks) with a Front Porch Quilt Show. This was another really popular challenge and members displayed their quilts in a variety of different ways.

Quilt by Mandy F.
Quilts by Rochelle R.
Quilt by Sarah O.

Challenge #5 (May) – Sew a Rainbow

This challenge was part of a block swap we did with other members in the guild who were asked to make rainbow blocks and exchange them. If members didn’t participate in the swap, they were encouraged to make a quilt using rainbow colors to provide some brightness to our days.

Mini Quilt by Bev T.
Quilt by Sue S.
Mug Rug by Kait H.

Challenge #6 (June) – Make a Tabletop Sewn Item

Since we’d probably made more home cooked meals than ever before in our lives, it was time to show our tabletops some quilty love. We asked members to make a table top sewn item. Extra kudos who went above and beyond to create full table scapes to match!

Table Runner by Anne M.
Mini Quilt, Matching Table Topper, and Table Scape by Dianne G.
Table Top Quilt by Michele D.

Challenge #7 (July) – Show Off Your Quilt Labels

We held a poll and talked a little bit about how many of our members label their quilts. So, we asked our members to show off their labels to help inspire others.

Quilt Label by Amanda M.
Quilt Label by Lisa B.

Challenge #8 (August) – Show Us How You Overcame Being Creatively Stuck

Sometimes you just need to step outside of what you’ve been doing and try something new. This month, we asked members to post about a project where they might have become stuck and overcame that challenging place.

Challenge #9 (September) – Show Us Multiple BOM Layout Options

As our part of our 2020 Block of the Month, members were challenged to entertain different design layouts for their blocks.

Layout Option 1 for Barbara E.
Layout Option 2 for Barbara E.
Layout Option 1 for Rhonda R.
Layout Option 2 for Rhonda R.

Challenge #10 (October) – Make a Project Using On-hand Scraps

In an effort to use up scraps that had accumulated throughout the year, members were encouraged to use them up by making them into a project of their choosing.

Scrap quilt made by Lisa B.

Challenge #11 (November) – Make a 2020 “Mask to Remember”

While I’m sure most of us had our fill at making masks throughout the year, we challenged members one last time to make one that summarized 2020 in some way.

Masks by Veronique O.
Masks by Mandy F.

This year was challenging in more ways than one, and our members showed up for them each month in such creative ways. We feel inspired and excited for new guild challenges 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 🌈😀