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 🌈😀

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

Hosting Our First Virtual Meeting

And tips for how you can do it too!

Our first ever virtual guild meeting was a great success! On Thursday, March 12, we hosted 33 members of our guild via a Zoom meeting in place of our normal in-person guild meeting.

We maintained nearly all the same elements of our regular meeting program including: a quilty question held virtually on Instagram, our regular guild updates and reminders via slide sharing, Challenges and Charity project sharing via social media and simultaneous sharing on camera, and finally, a virtual-meeting-friendly program via presentation and mobile screen sharing.

Before the success of the meeting itself, we had a crisis of timing on our hands. Three days before our March guild meeting, we were notified that our meeting space would be cancelled for at least the next month.

Our president acted fast, asking board members to meet up via Zoom that same evening to brainstorm ideas, test out the platform, and plan our approach. We asked ourselves a few key questions to help ourselves navigate running a virtual meeting. Such as…

Is Zoom the right platform for us?

We decided Zoom was the best platform to use as it has an easy barrier of entry for all skill levels. It was nice to have members who already use the tool take the lead, but learning the tool was simple for everyone. 

One thing to note if using Zoom is that one person (ideally the person leading the meeting) needs to have a registered account to create and share a meeting link. All other participants can access the meeting for free, without an account, but will be prompted to (quickly) download the application for accessing the tool before use.

We assured our members that logging on would be simple and fast when we sent out the meeting link. We also advised them to log in early to test the tool before the meeting started.

Additionally, we wrote up some basic Conference Call Best Practices and made sure to have it shared on the screen when members first hopped on the meeting, to read through before the start of the meeting.

What do we want/need to cut from our normal meeting agenda (if anything)? 

We decided we’d leave all parts of the meeting in with the exception of Show & Tell and figured out ways to make each part successful on this platform.

Our members love the Show & Tell portion, and it was missed at this meeting, so we have already started brainstorming a few ways to incorporate it virtually, including: doing more social media posting ahead of the meeting and/or selecting a handful of members to share projects one by one with a designated time limit to keep the meeting moving. 

All other guild business and updates were easy to carry out with some thought on how to make them a little more visual and engaging.

How do we insert interactivity with members virtually throughout the meeting to keep it engaging and fun?

We pinpointed a few parts of the meeting that lent themselves to social media posting or doing simultaneous group sharing on camera. Here’s where we landed:

  • We posted anything we would normally get individual member live feedback on (like our “Quilty Question”) to our Social Media platforms (Instagram and Facebook) early on the day of the meeting to generate answers to show during the meeting. We encouraged members to post and use a unique hashtag created for this meeting (#svmqgMarchMeeting2020) so we could see all their content in one place.
  • For the parts of the meeting where people would normally stand up and show off things like Charity contributions or Challenge blocks, we stopped sharing the meeting slide deck which then defaulted to a view of all the members on camera at once. Then, we had members hold up their items in front of their cameras so we could all ooh and ahh collectively in the “Gallery View” on Zoom. It was fun to see everyone’s faces and projects, and members felt like they still had a chance to share. 
  • We also chose a program for the evening that fit well in the virtual format. We had been wanting to do a lecture and demonstration on how to use social media platforms, so this seemed like the perfect choice. Our member running the lecture/demo jumped on the Zoom meeting via their phone and shared their phone screen, scrolling through Instagram and Facebook to demo the platforms in real time. Members followed on their own phones and computers live in the meetings, something that would not have happened if the meeting had been in-person.

How do we manage logistics, like who is talking or screen sharing, and what if a member has a question?

It was essential to establish roles for our board members so they could ensure the meeting ran smoothly. This was our biggest worry. A meeting could run away from us quickly if there weren’t ground rules for behavior or people helping moderate interactions.

Our President would run the main part of the meeting as usual using a slide deck of content (we use this for in-person meetings too). 

We elected a Chat moderator but most board members ended up facilitating by answering any questions that popped up and members jumped in to help each other too. The moderator would also help cue the presenter if there was a question specifically for them.

We chose one person who already knew Zoom to be our IT official for the evening and mute all participants at the start of the meeting, assist in recording the meeting, as well as manage the “hand raising” feature if there were questions or reactions to the presentation.

As fallout of our own meeting, we’d advise to make sure and have a backup presenter ready to pick up if the main presenter has technical issues mid-meeting, including having presentation materials pre-loaded on their computer and ready to go.

If you’re a guild considering running a virtual meeting, go for it, it’s not as hard as it looks. Planning was the hardest part in running our meeting and with some of our insights, we hope you can see how easy and fun it is to run your first virtual meeting.

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

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

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!