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Northampton MQG Meeting, Sunday, March 6, 2016

Guild Business:

  • Introduction, attendance sheet passed around,
  • Welcome to guests (Audrey Hyvoden)
  • Michelle Jensen (Pres.) collected and numbered all the available in-house Block Lotto from those members participating [ 10” block, square within a square, spring colors ]
  • Tables were rearranged to be more conducive to presentations
  • Committee Reports:
    • Membership (Lee Sproull) – we care for and nurture current and past members and to increase membership. We have established a procedure to send emails to those who’ve been members in the past to see if they are interested in rejoining! There are 2 good ways to get the word out. 1) all the communications (I.e., website), marketing promo cards to quilt shows, retail shops, etc. and 2) instead of our own quilt show, demos of modern quilting (like the one at HAVQG show last year) like the September “demo” of the Sol Lewitt inspired quilts.  Ongoing discussion about finding others ways to demo our work so people can see what we do and be interested in it.
    • Communications (Lynne McLandsboorugh. reported) – Committee is responsible for keeping up the website (also the Facebook page), assign someone to take notes during meetings, as well as a photographer. Lynne (or Michelle ensures the meeting notes/photos are posted on the website. Committee is also providing support to the Membership Committee in their efforts to design and publish information cards about the guild to pass out to quilt shops, other venues.
    • Philanthropy (Robin Heller-Harrison): Survey Monkey survey is coming – please respond when you get that email so that will help drive our focus on future philanthropic activities
    • Programming: Diane absent, Julie Z. reminded us, next month is Lee Thompson’s “show”
  • A reminder about the Guild’s Sol Lewitt Challenge: Back in September the guild took a trip to Mass MOCA and had a private tour of the Sol Lewitt exhibit – this inspired us to set-up a Challenge. The Challenge is to design and sew a 36”x36” (max size) quilt inspired by Sol Lewitt’s work. Members can make up to three quilts.  There is no fee to enter this challenge and all of our quilts will be on display in North Adams, MA at a gallery space there (Michelle Jensen’s building) from September 17 through October 23.  Mass MOCA will be contacted so they can assist with marketing the show. Contact Michelle for entry forms, Carson will set up a google spreadsheet form for entry as well.
  • Announcements:
    • Audrey Hyvonen applied for and received three community grants for an event on June 8th that involves drawing, drafting, etc., more information is coming from her on this.
    • Guest Cindy ? brought in a large stack of fabrics for the taking – after the meeting, take a look, take what you like.
    • Michelle Jensen shared more information about a possible guild trip (in August) to the Garment District in NYC. People expressed an interest in this; she will continue to explore how to make this happen.
    • Lee: received the Blake Reilly Challenge materials for some members – see her to pick those up.
    • Robin Heller brought up the use of a timekeeper at meeting to keep presenters on track. She will gently knock on the table when 5 minutes remain.
  • Discussion on Sharing – Sharing currently occurs at the end of the meetings – would be good to prioritize so the time doesn’t go so long that people have to leave. Top priority will be given to people who have items that will no longer be available to show: gift, selling, showing, etc.  Second priority to people with items they want feedback, advice, help with (items in progress), Third priority goes to those who are working on things they simply want to share.  People seemed to like the nature of sharing whenever they are excited to share.  IF you want to share something at a meeting – please let Robin Heller-Harrison know ahead of time so she can include it in the meeting agenda.

Program: three types of hand work

Type 1: English Paper Piecing -Lynne McLandsborough

The challenge with paper piecing is keeping it modern and interesting!

pic 4 croppic 5

Lynne does hexies when she’s traveling or sitting in scientific meetings. She added the solids to make it interesting.  Her hexie kit includes scissors, needles, clips, and paper pieces (which we can buy pre-cut).  She has put links to  tutorials on the website .

Better to buy the pre-cut papers online because they are uniform.  This is key for accuracy, if you cut them yourself and are off even a tiny bit, it can make trouble for you quickly.  L. takes the precuts out of the baggies and irons them, making sure they are flat.  (She said she loves gadgets and showed us a Fiskers extra large hex craft punch – the large makes 1″ hexies.).

She cuts squares of fabric 2.5” and travels with loads of those – they fit perfectly around a 1” hexagon. She calls what she does “lazy” paper piecing: using a glue stick, sticks the fabric to the hexagon (keeping in mind if you want the “point” up or the “flat” up), press the paper to the fabric and fold the edges of the fabric over to the back. She finger-presses the fabric and uses simple stitches.  The best is to get the fabric TIGHT around the paper, nice tight corner and she stitches to tighten the corners.  (Note: She finger presses when she’s stitching but before she removes paper she irons.)

Lynne uses Gutterman thread because it has a touch of wax, which holds the fabric and doesn’t knot as much. Aurifil not as good (she single threads).  Once she goes all around (the back will look messy) she cuts the fabric back to about .25″ then sews all the hexies together as she wishes, paper still in them.  She used to punch a hole in the paper first, but discovered that didn’t really help.  Hexies can be put together into flowers or triplets on the go and then arrange when you get a good sized pile.  She arranges her design and then sews them together into rows, and then sees the rows together with ALL WITH THE PAPERS IN.  She gave the tip that when you are joining the hexies you can fold the two hex sides and draw a running stitch through it – leave a tiny ridge, but you can’t tell.   After she is ALL done sewing her piece together, she removes the paper from all them.  Often the paper is in good shape and can be ironed and used again!  Most of her pieces are small pillows, since she doesn’t have the patience or attention span to make large items.

She quilts them by straight-line with a walking foot, often uses TWO layers of batting for the raised texture.  Showed us a hexie with a white background that looked like an appliqué. As she quilts she has found that using a ruler was maddening and that eye-balling it was better.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Handwork type 2: Suzie Day gave a brief presentation on Sashiko stitching (a running stitch).

Sashiko in a form of decorative stitching from Japan.  It is often very tiny stitches and was originally used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears in garments. She explained that these tiny stitches are often made in many layers.

Suzie likes using linen or raw silk because the weave is looser. Jersey also lends itself well to this because it’s loose. She uses three kinds of thread, and she explained that Sashiko is more twisted then embroidery. She noted that the needles are longer and really pointy (lots of blood). Even though you could simply use a longer regular needle, is it best to use a needle that is specifically a Sashiko needle.

IMG_0074      IMG_0076


The typical stitching pattern is 3 to 2 with the 3 being the stitch showing. Stitch, little space, stitch, little space.  There are a few tricks for the corners, to make them crisp.  When you are doing arrows, you would go a long length, very long, with as few stops as possible.  For the most part, the sky’s the limit. She found that having a pattern is helpful.  3 to 2 is not hard. This is a little harder than the rocking stitch because the needle is longer. Julie Z is going to Japan in the Fall if people want her to bring back kits/needles.   Suzie has a tutorial that she will send to Lynne for the website.


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Elizabeth Lyman – Presentation on Hand quilting


Elizabeth loves hand-quilting for many reasons.  Some important things to know starting out: get to know the needles you like, so many sizes and types – find the ones that work for you. Threads: not as many colors available for hand quilting but she often gets Gutterman, it’s a little bit heavier weight.  She uses hand thread because machine thread can break more often.  Quilting threads can be hard to get!  JoAnns has it, but it’s not as big a thing. Pearl cotton thread is best and she uses number 8 for bigger stitches.  Someone asked about embroidery floss and she commented that it’s a little big.  She gets her pearl cotton threads from Amazon or online because it’s hard to find locally.


Silky has “blendables”, variegated threads that she really likes.  The threads she uses are not coated so she uses bees wax to coat them before stitching with them! She’ll load up 3 or 4 at a time.  The bees wax keeps the thread from fraying and knotting.

Elizabeth loves hand quilting because you can do ANY design!  It just takes a bit longer than a machine. She uses hand stencils, uses chalk.  Also noted that chalk powder can “bounce” off the fabric so that’s a bit of a pain.  She likes to make her own quilt stencils using a marker and then an Exacto knife.  Best place to find quilt stencils is the Internet, search “Quilt designs”. She does a lot of circles. IF you are doing lines, blue painters tape or medicine tape, she does NOT use the ruled tape – horrible for anyone with any OCD! Auto body paint shops have the small tapes, too, and they are cheaper at the auto shops.  She uses markers, air-eraseable (but TEST your fabric, and take care with ironing), she also has success with white soap slivers! She repeated that it is IMPORTANT to check carefully that your markers will in fact wash out; too many do not, even when the manufacturers swear they do.  She showed her beautiful, “Ancestral Journey” quilt and showed up where the marker never washed out (left yellowed lines).

Gave a warning on friction pens, they leave a residue.  She doesn’t have a “go-to” marker. On dark fabric she uses white chalk.  Still has trouble finding the right marker for use with light fabrics. She actually often uses lead pencil.  She also uses “Sulky” tear-away paper on which she draws her design, sticks it to the fabric, quilts it, then tears away the paper!.  She recommends that if you want to mark, do a test on fabric before hand.


Like the needles, get and find a thimble you love.  She uses little leather dots sticks to the end of her finger which she gets at JoAnns.  You can stick them to finger or nail – and when not in use, she sticks them to her Ott light, to keep them handy.  She uses “secretary fingers” on other fingers sometimes to grip the fabric as she hand quilts.

Elizabeth spoke of have a good light source: important, especially for dark fabrics. She has a good Ott light at home and also uses a mini Ott light with she travels (on planes, etc.).

Two types of hand quilting, rocking or stabbing. She is a stabber. Needle down in, back out, in, out. Rocking is the pinch down, up.  The third way: The Thimble Lady (online) “pinches” the fabric – goes straight-across.  Elizabeth doesn’t work with a round loop but because she wants her fabric taut she uses a square “loop” (PVC pipes that clip together all different sizes, online or JoAnns) – uses safety pins for the basting. She says she is obsessed with even quilt stitches. Showed us a framed art quilt (old man), demonstration of big stitches (and tiny!) – a gorgeous piece of art! Some people really make the stitch smaller. She uses only 100% cotton batting. Showed a gorgeous Bargello – machine pieced (she machine pieces so that goes quickly and she can get to the “fun part” the hand quilting.  Blacks, whites, purple, yellow – lot of black fabric, so she uses black batting.)


Lots of reasons she prefers hand quilting. She loves to hand quilt so she isn’t isolated in her sewing room, but can be part of family conversations, all together. Sit in a comfy chair. She said that hand quilting “travels well”.

Over time her stitching is getting progressively smaller. Showed the owl piece – the wings were spectacular, also showed a whole cloth quilted in greys, had used a pencil for marking.



Lately she’s been looking through adult coloring books for some ideas on hand quilting patterns. Also uses books.  Showed a sample of crazy quilting, showed difference between stitching.



Elizabeth showed an Arpillera she’d done, found a fascination with the stories behind these (often three-dimensional textile pictures, hand done by women in South America, political protests or to send notes to political prisoners).







YouTube and Pinterest have great tutorials on hand quilting.  She also belongs to a Facebook group on handquilting… Great hints on there.


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Block Lotto draw… 54 blocks in the lotto, Michelle used a random number generator and the winner of the blocks was Hollis (not present, but will surely be happy!)

IMG_0091 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sharing:Tamara (guest) — showed a landscape piece –









Lee – showed a “Day lily” – asked about how to quilt it….. Turned it “landscape” with the darker greens across the top. Carson also suggested transparent thread to quilt.



The Berkshire Quilters’ Guild presents

Colorful Garden Medley– Patty Sawyer


WORKSHOP: Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Place: Alford Town Hall, Alford

Time: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Come join us to make a Colorful Garden Medley Wall Hanging – no sewing machines needed!

Learn to use a basic color wheel like never before.

Every finished wall hanging garden will be unique and act as a handy reminder and inspiration for future color decisions.

Cost of workshop is $50.00 which includes the kit with everything you need.

Contact Susan Struzziero ( or Trish Ross ( to sign up. Class is limited to 20 participants.

Congratulations to Northampton Modern Quilt Guild members Carson Converse and Timna Tarr for each having two winning quilts at 2016 QuiltCon!!!

It’s a a double, double folks!!!! TWO Northampton MQG members, had TWO winning quilts at the 2016 QuiltCon Show in California this week.  Check out these gorgeous award winning quilts below.

  • Carson Converse won the FreeSpirit Excellence in Quilting award for “The Other Side” and a second place finish in the minimalist design category for “Shift”.
  • Timna Tarr won a third place finish in the improvisation category for “Colorfall” and a third place finish in the small quilt category for “Holyoke 1938”.

Congratulations to both Carson and Timna!  Your guild already knew that you both excel in craftsmanship, innovation and originality – and it’s exciting to have it confirmed at a national level!

Freespirit Quilting Excellence Award "The Other Side" Pieced & quilted by Carson Converse Northampton MQG 59” x 57”

Freespirit Quilting Excellence Award
“The Other Side”
Pieced & quilted by Carson Converse
Northampton MQG
59” x 57”


Minimalist Design –2nd "Shift" Pieced & quilted by Carson Converse Northampton MQG 37.5” x 41”

Minimalist Design –2nd
Pieced & quilted by Carson Converse
Northampton MQG
37.5” x 41”


Improvisation – 3rd "Colorfall" Pieced & quilted by Timna Tarr Northampton MQG @timnatarr 49” x 54”

Improvisation – 3rd
Pieced & quilted by Timna Tarr
Northampton MQG
49” x 54”


Small Quilts – 3rd Holyoke 1938 Pieced & quilted by Timna Tarr Northampton MQG @timnatarr 22” x 29”

Small Quilts – 3rd
Holyoke 1938
Pieced & quilted by Timna Tarr
Northampton MQG
22” x 29”

Northampton MQG meeting, Sunday February 7th, 2016

Feb 2016 Noho MQG-

Leaf Quilt based on Ruth McDowell's Method designed and assembled by the NMQG, under the leadership of Diane Wespier. Donated to our gracious hosts at the Rocky Hill Co-Housing Community, December 2015.

Leaf Quilt based on Ruth McDowell’s Method designed and assembled by the NMQG, under the leadership of Diane Wespier. Donated to our gracious hosts at the Rocky Hill Co-Housing Community, December 2015.


Guild Business

  • Introduction and Sign in Sheet
  • Handout of 2016 MQG Membership cards and pins
  • Photograph of the NMQG with the leaf quilt newly hung in the guest room of the Common House in the Rocky Hill Co-Housing Community.
  • Discussion of September Meeting date which falls on Labor Day Weekend. We voted to move the meeting to the Second weekend of the month.  (Correction – since the 2/7/16 meeting, we have scheduled our September meeting in conjunction with the Boston Modern Quilt guild.  It will be held on Saturday Sept 17th from 1-3 pm in the Fabric Place Basement in Natick MA).
  • Sol Lewitt challenge proposed by Michelle Jensen and agreed upon by the Guild: The quilts will due by September meeting. Finished quilts should be:
    1. 36 inches by 36 inches a
    2. INSPIRED By Sol Lewitt.

Finished quilts will be displayed in a gallery in Michelle’s building in North Adams MA which is around the corner from the Mass MoCA and we will connect with them around advertising.


 Elaine Huffman “Five Generations of Quilting”

Feb 2016 Noho MQG-20072

Elaine’s Bio:   Elaine started out with a career in the insurance industry, and she considered herself a “pan” craft hobbyist. She lost her job, and threw herself into quilting as a business, being one of the first people in New England to possess a longarm in 1997. She quilted other’s quilts, but she “tired of looking at Thimbleberry fabrics” and as her daughter grew into a teenager, life became more hectic, so she stopped her quilting business. Currently, she is getting back into the swing of a business, predominantly around teaching Zentangle.


Big Mama's quilt

Big Mama’s quilt

Quilting Generation 1:  Elaine began her generational story with her great-grandmother Big Mama in west Texas. Elaine showed us a patchwork quilt assembled by Big Mama circa 1920s-1930s and quilted later. She also showed us a Wedding Ring quilt created by Big Mama that was quilted with big stitch quilting.

Quilting Generation 2: Elaine spoke about Granny (paternal grandmother) and Granny Fay (maternal grandmother). Elaine showed us a children’s quilt top where Granny had drawn characters onto the fabric, colored them in with crayons, and then ironed the color into the fabric.



A quilt by Granny Fay

A traditional quilt by Granny Fay

A modern quilt by Granny Fay

A modern quilt by Granny Fay




Another quilt by Granny Fay

Another quilt by Granny Fay

There were many quilts shown that were made by Granny Fay, a renaissance woman who loved the color red. A star pattern quilt made in the 1930s-1950’s with bark fabric (the fabric has texture) backing. Also shown were a 6 pt star inside a hexagon pattern (see photo above left), a quilt with schnauzers, and a modern quilt Granny Fay created in 1973 which had some wonderful, lively colors and a pieced back (see photo above right). Elaine told us a great story about how one year for Christmas, 13 grandchildren each received a decorated, used 5 gallon ice cream drum which contained inside a rolled up quilt from Granny Fay.





Quilting Generation 3: Elaine then introduced her mother, also a renaissance woman, but her main crafts were crewel and making clothing. In 1969, the family moved to Sudbury, MA, an area rich in American Revolution history. Elaine showed us photographs of the period and battle re-enactment costumes her mother made for the entire family.

Quilting Generation 4:  Elaine herself: she received her first showing machine in 1969 for Christmas. She showed us photographs of an early bag she made, and her junior prom dress she made for herself.  Going through about a dozen quilts, Elaine described the different methods used (dense quilting, tranpunto), she pointed out which quilts were made for her daughter Emma.   Elaine showed us framed, mini wall art quilts of beach scenes, made of batik strips, one of which she said she had cut it apart and re-assembled it to give it motion. She showed us a quilted vest and jacket she had made.  She finished up by passing around some Zentangle designs done in pen and ink or quilted.

Quilts that Elaine shared:

1)      a green and white quilt hand quilted using the rocker method

Two quilts made for her daughter Emma

Two quilts made for her daughter Emma

2)      red and blue quilt-looked like a combination of drunkards path and milky way patterns

3)      birdhouses

4)      “twist and turn” flying geese pattern

5)      Emma’s first baby quilt, a star pattern

6)      Emma’s first birthday quilt, a hexie quilt, circa 2000

7)       Vest

8)      Jacket

Examples of Elaine's amazing tranpunto quilts

Examples of Elaine’s amazing tranpunto quilts

9)      The quilt on her bed-all blue, Japanese indigo

10)  Another quilt for Emma

11)  A strip quilt for Emma using batik strips

12)  A round robin quilt in oranges, purples and yellows

Quilting Generation 5:  Elaine showed a quilt Emma herself had made, quilted standing on a box and entered into the BigE.


Thank you so much to Elaine for showing us her family’s quilting legacy and your own modern quilting journey!  We have amazing members and it’s always fun to learn about


Feb 2016 Noho MQG-20104

Zentagle quilt sampler!

Zentagle quilt sampler!












Notes: Robin Heller-Harrison

Photos: Caro Sheridan

Web Page posting:  Lynne McLandsborough

  Feb 2016 Noho MQG-20110             

Charity Sew-In, Saturday November 7th

ANTQ sew in Nov 2015We gathered at A Notion to Quilt on Saturday, November 7, to sew charity quilts that will be donated to the Northampton MA police department.  Members had made close to fifty wonky stars over the past several months.  We set them into various configurations for tops, sandwiched them, and quilted them on the long arm machine.  Several people volunteered to take the quilted tops home to bind them.  All tops will be displayed at the December guild meeting, and then delivered to the police department.

design in process
IMG_2111Design in process 2

wonky stars quilt

Timna Tarr Presented at the October 4th 2015 Meeting

On Sunday October 4th, our very own Timna Tarr gave the Northampton Modern Quilt Guild a presentation entitled “Now What? Choosing the Right Quilting Design”

Timna told us the most important thing for choosing a quilting design is how the quilt is going to be used.  All over designs are a good option for utilitarian quilts, while decorative quilts may warrant more time and energy.  Other things to consider: quilt style, batting type (influences quilting density) and thread color.  Quilting can be used to make areas recede (This was done in the George Quilt below). IMG_2348

The quilting pattern and stitch length can be based upon the geometry of the quilt and the size of the quilt.  Since heavy quilting shrinks the size of the quilt, it’s important to distribute quilting evenly.  To give linear quilts movement, curved quilting can be used (This was done in the string quilt below).  

IMG_2338The last tip from Timna was – “if you think you should stitch-in-the ditch or quilt ¼” off- do it”,  She showed us several quilts that looked beautiful to me, but Timna regretted not taking the time to stitch-in-the-ditch to emphasize a feature.





And here are more of Timna’s beautiful eye candy quilts:




Thanks for talking to us Timna!  I learned so much and it’s always wonderful seeing your beautiful work.

Dyeing in August

Our August meeting was graced with gorgeous weather which allowed us to head outside as we experimented with natural dyes.

Robin shared everything she’d learned playing on her own and we boiled up some dyes of our own. Avocado pits/skins, Beet greens and Queen Anne’s Lace. We added things like vinegar, alum and rusty nail water to create a variety of colors.   It was fun and informative!

dyeing 1

We collected Wonky Stars and decided to extend the deadline for them until the October meeting. At that meeting, we will decide how many/what size quilts we will create and where they will go.

Julie shared, via email,  a number of charitable organizations for us to consider.

Michelle shared a quilt made from blocks inherited from her mother-in-law. These leaf blocks were probably made in the 80’s?

mish leaf 1

mish leaf 2


Hollis shared a spicy table runner/wall hanging she made for her daughter.

Hollis 1

Hoping this summer weather is treating you all well. See you in September when we will meet at Mass MoCA in North Adams on 9/13/15. More info to come.

July meeting report


Our guild meeting on July 12, 2015, was a “maker meeting” focused on using new techniques in our philanthropic projects. In an earlier meeting we had made cyanotype prints on fabric, using a variety of materials from leaves to buttons to children’s toys to provide the images. Each person who made a print was then asked to make two half-triangle blocks from their print using red/white fabrics to complete the blocks. At a follow-on meeting we arranged our blocks in a modern composition, which volunteer members then sewed together and long-arm quilted. Once our quilt is bound, it will be delivered and a description of the quilt and its recipient will be added to our philanthropy pages.


IMG_0525  IMG_0523

At an earlier meeting we learned the “Ruth McDowell technique” for piecing complex shapes, in this case, leaf silhouettes, using straight seams. At this meeting, we learned how to piece these shapes into a free-form composition based on an underlying grid. We added fabric to each of the irregular block shapes and began sewing the results together. Once the sewing is complete and the quilt is quilted and bound, it will be donated to the Rocky Hill Co-housing Community to hang in their community center. At that time a description of the quilt and its recipient will be added to our philanthropy pages.


IMG_0520 IMG_0519 IMG_0516


We also began making wonky stars for our next philanthropy project. If you were unable to attend the meeting, stay tuned for instruction on how your can contribute to this project.



Western MA Quilter’s Retreat

Western MA quilter’s retreat
Where:  Fairfield Berkshire Inn, Great Barrington, MA
When:   Friday 11/13/15 (8 a.m.) through Sunday 11/15/15 (3 p.m.)

1247 Sq. Ft. sewing room will be open continuously from 8 am on 11/13 through 3 pm on 11/15
Design Walls, elevated cutting stations, Ironing stations,  (fun and games)
Hotel offers:  Breakfast daily, High speed internet access and free Wifi, 24 hour fitness center, in-door pool and whirlpool, Coffee/tea available 24 hours

How much:  $250.00 per person based on double occupancy,  $399 for single occupancy, or
$75.00 for commuters

$50.00 deposit due by June 25th

Organizers:   Denise LeDuc and Suzi Day
email notice of intent to attend to

Send Deposit to:  Denise LeDuc
P. O. Box 595
Chesterfield, MA  01012

Questions?   Call Denise  c:  413-687-5929   Home:  413-296-4312

March Meeting Photos

20150301_140850A gorgeous quilt by Elaine Huffman

20150301_140313A wedding ring top by Diane Wespiser

A Quilters Journey by Audrey Hyvonen