Martingale Books “Modern Basics” by Amy Ellis

I’ve been making quilts for several years now but still consider myself to be a beginner. Like many twenty first century quilters I have very limited space and money to pursue this pleasurable pastime. This is why I was drawn to the title of Amy Ellis’ book Modern Basics – Easy Quilts to Fit Your Budget, Space, and Style.
From the introduction onwards Amy offers snippets of encouragement and solid, sensible advice. For example she advises that you cut all pieces before starting to construct your quilt top,
this way you won’t lose motivation and can chip away at the quilt when you find a few spare moments to get behind your machine.
She also dispels the myth that in order to be a good quilter you need a sewing room, giving suggestions on how to store your tools and keep your fabric stash to a minimum.
Following the introduction the book launches into 14 projects. All of the projects adhere to the principles of ‘Modern Quilting’ and all are stunning. There is something for modern
quilters of all tastes, from blocks created with bold floral prints to graphic statement
quilts made from solid fabrics.
Many of the quilts appear quite complex, but when you turn the page to look at the construction diagrams you realize how deceptively simple they are. Several of the quilts could easily be
put together in a weekend.
Each project has yardage requirements and cutting instructions and some quilts can be made in a range of sizes.
The piecing and construction diagrams are clear and very well produced. The written instructions are considered and easy to follow.  
The photography by Brent Kane is great, there are at least two photos of each quilt, one in situ
giving a sense of scale and size, and one photo of the quilt flat out so that you can admire the design as a whole.
The final chapter of the book is a beginners guide to patchwork and quilting. It covers everything from essential tools, cutting techniques, machine piecing, pressing, borders, basting, quilting and binding.  It is very well written and features simple, effective diagrams.
This book is fantastic. For a true beginner it is one stop shop, containing all the advice and instruction they need and enough inspiring projects to keep them satisfied for years.
For me it has made me realize that I don’t need to attempt complex designs and techniques to produce stunning work, there is beauty in simplicity.
Lets all get back to basics!

All images courtesy of Martingale and Brent Kane


Skip the borders – Easy patterns for modern quilts

b1120_cI was really happy when this book came up on the LMQG review list as it had been on my Amazon wish list for ages and the week before, I had purchased my very own copy!

Julie says in the introduction that she drew on her love of teaching to work out how to put together the text and I think that comes across in her writing style; friendly, relaxed and informative with permission to break the rules!


There are 15 quilts in this book split into 3 sections – “one block”, “two block” and “outside-the-block” quilts. There are no templates but each quilt is beautifully illustrated with a full page photo along with clear and easy to follow instructions on materials needed, cutting details and a cutting diagram. Once you’ve cut everything out there are further diagrams to illustrate how each individual block is assembled and how the quilt top as a whole is assembled.

There’s a section at the beginning of the book which breaks down the structure of a quilt without borders and I like the idea that not using borders means some of the designs look as if they could “go on and on”.

The book also includes a really helpful section on binding, which personally I think will be something I’ll refer to again and again. Especially the binding calculator which tells you how much you need dependent on the size of the quilt – no more cutting three times the length I actually need!

On to the quilts! Of the “two block” quilts, I have my eye on Raspberry Desert – I love the contrast of the pinks against the neutral background combined with the strong geometric pattern.

b1120_11Framed Coins from the “outside-the- block” section is another favourite with the bold solids combined with black and white prints.


Of all the quilts featured though, White Stars has to be my favourite and I’ve started my own version using my prized Liberty stash.

b1120_01 First though, I wanted to make a smaller, one block version using some fantastic vintage scraps from Sew and Quilt. I thought the scraps would work really well with the negative space of the star and I’m delighted with how it turned out.

My Vintage Liberty Print Star.

My Vintage Liberty Print Star.

Overall, this is a well written book of thoughtfully designed patterns which I think will provide inspiration for quilters of all skill levels.

- Claire

Inspiration of the month

The LMQG would like to start a new feature this month where we share with our members and readership every month a quilt that has caught our eye and the we find particularly inspiring to the cause of modern and contemporary quilting.  To start we’d like to share with you the Feather Quilt made by Jolene Klassen who blogs at Blue Elephant Stitches.

feather1© Blue Elephant Stitches.  Used with permission

Joleen was intrigued by the feather pattern my Anna Maria Horner and started of with a set of feathers but then gradually added more diverse elements to the quilt.

feather2© Blue Elephant Stitches. Used with permission

She uses a lot of low volume fabrics punctuated with littler spots of brightly patterned fabric. The arrangement has an improvisational look that is truly contemporary but also links back to a past where quilts were made by using old shirts and left over pieces that were available. Joleen’s favorite element is the little nine-patch section in the top left section and I am sure everybody who likes this quilt can find a little favorite section somewhere on it.

feathers4© Blue Elephant Stitches. Used with permission

Judith Dahmen

London quilt shops

ImageIs there anything as much fun as being surround by bolts of beautiful, bright, colourful fabrics?  In London we are lucky to have great fabrics shops and a few quilting specialist emporiums too.  I love to buy fabrics when I can see and feel them, on so I thought I’d share those I know of with you and if you can add to the list, please do leave a comment!


First up Liberty.  The Liberty Art fabrics are great to sew with and British too, lovely store with great staff.

ImageTikki is a dedicated modern patchwork and quilting shop quilting shop in Kew, West London.  Tikki also sell quilting books, Japanese craft books, their own unique quilt kits, a selection of batting, large selection of haberdashery and also hold classes.

ImageRay Stitch is based on Essex Road in Islington. There are 2 floors full of fabrics, dressmaking patterns, haberdashery; many of the products they sell are organically or sustainably produced.  They also hold classes in quilting, dressmaking and embroidery.

ImageSew Over It are in North Clapham.  Lisa set up Sew Over It in a response to the growing feeling that sewing was becoming a lost skill. She wanted to pass on her passion for sewing through Sew Over It and encourage more people in London to pick up a needle and thread!  They have a range of classes, fabrics, haberdashery and a cafe.  Sewing and cake, what could be better?

ImageFabrics Galore is on Lavender Hill, Battersea.  They stock a range of quilting fabrics including Alexander Henry and the full range of  Liberty Lifestyle, amongst a huge selection of brilliantly priced dressmaking and home furnishing fabrics.  A real treasure trove.

ImageBeyond Fabrics is on the famous Columbia Road, in East London.  A quirky boutique in the heart of the East End, offering a great selection of fabric, Elna sewing machines and also classes.

ImageThe Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead has a large selection of quilting fabrics, sewing patterns and as the name suggests haberdashery.  Annie (a member of LMQG) also runs classes on quilting and dressmaking.

John Lewis has a large Rowan, Makower selection and their own brand of quilting weight fabrics.  There is a very large selection of haberdashery, although not a wide quilting selection.

Shaukat in Earls Court has a huge selection of Liberty fabrics and if you enjoy using tana lawn a must visit.  Not a quilting shop, but a fantastic range of fabrics.

Little Woolie in Beckenham, Kent.  A new shop offering yarn, Haberdashery, fabrics and classes.

Mrs Moon in St Margarets, Twickenham.  A lovely yarn shop with a small selection of quilting fabrics and haberdashery.

Yarnia in Belevdere, Kent.  Quilting and yarn shop.

Thread Bear in South Croydon.

Creative Quilting in East Molesey.

Just Between Friends in Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

The Running Chicken in Reading (just outside the M25).  Karen is a brilliant long arm quilter who sells on line, fairs and her shop is open by appointment at her home.

Lady Sew & Sew (just outside the M25) in Henley upon Thames.

The Quilt Room (just outside the M25) with a good selection of fabrics, long arm quilting and classes.

Patchwork Cabin (again just outside the M25).

February’s Meeting round up


This month marks the second in our traditional block made modern challenge.  Each block should be 12 1/2 inch square and we will be using them to make up charity baby quilts.  If you’d like to join in, bring along your 12.5 inch block to the next meeting, on the 2nd March.

IMG_3099We had a wonderful array of quilt this month, here is a small snapped selection from earlier today.

IMG_3082IMG_3087IMG_3092IMG_3095There were some lovely donated baby quilts for The Royal Brompton paediatric unit, this takes our donated quilts to over 30 now in less than 12 months.  Thank you so much for your donations!

Modern Bee – 13 Quilts to make with friends

modern bee 1

When I volunteered to review a book for the LMQG I was overjoyed when “Modern Bee” turned up in my inbox! I am an avid reader of Lindsay’s blogs “Lindsay Sews” and “Craft Buds” plus it was a happy coincidence having last year taken over as Bee Mama for my own quilting Bee – Bee Europa.

modern bee 2

Lindsay talks about her own Bee “Mod Stitches” and as soon as you see the names of the Bee members you know this is going to be a winning book with members such as Jeni Baker, Elizabeth Jackson, Amy (Sukie) Newbold to name a few! One thing I also liked about the book was the extra snippets about the members such as how they got into quilting, why they love quilting and so on; I love those little extra insights!

modern bee 3This is a fantastic book with lots of advice and tips on how to run your own online quilting Bee, how and where to get started, the different types of Bee’s, what to do if there is a problem and so on.  There is a wonderful selection of quilt block designs that work through different levels from beginners, confident beginners to intermediate. The blocks are designed so that they could be used as part of a Bee; they come with excellent construction details and even how much fabric you need to send out each month!

modern bee 4The photography is bright and clear and shows not only individual blocks step by step but also how they can be sewn into a quilt. The section on finishing a quilt talking about backing, the quilt sandwich, basting, quilting styles and binding was really useful to someone like me who has only ever made one baby sized quilt.

modern bee 5One thing that should be noted about this book is even if you are not intending on starting a Bee or taking part in one this is still a wonderful book with lots of lovely quilt designs and great quilting tips about tools, sewing techniques, colour choice, pre washing fabrics the list goes on. There is everything in this book and definitely one I’ll be referring to when I make my first big quilt!!

modern bee 6Happy Stitching and reading – Cara @ Pink Stitches

Modern Bee, published by C & T Publishing, all photographs © C & T Publishing.

Traditional quilt and make it modern

For our January meeting on 12th January our challenge is to take a traditional quilt and make it modern!  The finished size should be 12.5 x 12.5 inches, if you can’t make the meeting do email a photo of your block to and don’t forget to add your photo to the LMQG flickr group.  So with this in mind I thought I’d share some amazing traditional & modern quilts to inspire you.

1.antique quiltMilitary quilt, possibly Francis Brayley, 1864-1877 V & A.

1.antique quilt v&aclamshell quilt V & A

1.antique quilt yorkfrom the quilt museum, York

1.antique quilt crazythe London quilt, York quilt museum

There are lots of places to look for inspiration, V & A, Quilt museum York, Welsh quilt centre, National Museum Northern Ireland.  Look forward to seeing what you all make on the 12th!