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


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

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!

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!

Christmas inspiration

denyse schmidt in the pines quilt

In the pines by Denyse Schmidt

With Christmas coming next week, I wanted to share some fantastic modern quilts.  I know there is little time to stitch a whole quilt, but just looking at these could inspire a last minuet quilted stocking, table runner or pot holder.  Some are patterns to purchase, tutorial or one off beautiful quilts.

modern trees quiltModern Trees by Gooses bags & gifts

treesTrees by Crazy Mom quilts

trees quilttrees by Quilt story

Dear Mr. ClausDear Mr Claus by our own Needles & Lemons

hexy snowflakeHexy snowflake by I’m a ginger monkey

peppermint pinwheel quiltPeppermint dresden wheel by Diary of a quilter

and finally an antique Welsh red & white striped quilt, simple, beautiful and for all its age modern.

red & white quiltHave a wonderful Christmas and see you at our next meeting

12th January 2014 at The Star Tavern.

Meet a member – Michael

keep calm and quilt on
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Originally from New York.  Victoria and I moved back to London after we got married 3 years ago.  She is British and works for an investment bank who relocated us when her position changed.  I went to F.I.T. in NYC for Advertising and Graphic Design, not Fashion as the name suggests. When I graduated I took my first job designing novelty books for HarperCollins. A few years later I was lucky enough to get to work with Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, both have changed the way Children’s Pop Up Books were looked at.  After several years as the Art Director I moved to Penguin where I was given the chance to create and design my own pop up books.  My first was the second place winner of the NY Book Show in 2010 with my book Everyone Says I Love You.
book1In 2012 I designed and engineered another book called Spin which won the Novelty division.
book2book3Since moving to London I continue to design Children’s books for several publishing companies around the world.
What inspired you to start quilting?
My mom has been quilting for a number of years and about 8-9 years ago I asked her to show me how to sew.  I have a black dog and my mom didn’t want to spend many hours making something for me if Lily was going to lay all over it. Over one holiday break between Christmas an New Years she brought in her spare machine and showed me what to do. I have been hooked since then.  It feels like a combination of painting and building but with fabrics and if anyone knows me they know I love building things.  The perfect match in my opinion.
quilter streetMom and me at the Columbia Road Market.
What is your favourite tool or notion?
Going to have to say a seam ripper.  If you ain’t rippin’, you ain’t quiltin’.  I like to think I am fairly competent on my machine but no matter how good you are you will always make a mistake or find a seam that could be done better. My little Clover ripper is always near by.
What is your favourite fabric right now?

florence_denyse SchmidtThere are too many to choose from.  I am going to have to say my giant bundle of “Florence” by Denyse Shmidt given to me by Denyse herself on a visit to her Studio in CT.  I’m a bit afraid to open it but I think I will and can get over it. Here is my first quilt. DS all the way.

What’s your pet hate?
I hate people who stop walking, dead in their tracks on the sidewalk.  Especially when they stop to take a picture of a shop window.  It’s called a sidewalk for a reason, Walk!
Tea or coffee?
happy to serve cupsTea, 2 sugars no milk
cupDo you stick to one project at a time or have several on the go?
I can’t stick to one thing at a time.  My office is a mess of things.  Both book jobs and quilting projects intermingling on the desk.  That goes the same for my knitting and cross stitch projects.  I like having the freedom to pick and choose what I want to work on and when.
michaelwedding-inviteVictoria and my wedding thank you cards.
skull jacketI was bored.  Kay got a knitted skull jacket!
james dean x stitchmy little x stitch version on my larger James Dean quilt.
What are your vices?
I quilt while watching the UFC. Back in NYC I would stand at the island in the kitchen watching the UFC while actually quilting.  Don’t ask me why? That’s just the way it is.  Usually I bind to Law and Order because no matter where you are in the world you can always find an already viewed episode on TV.
Hand or machine quilting?
Machine.  Was lucky enough to get a Janome Horizon a while back. While I piece everything on the machine I do finish binding by hand.  I think if you are going to spend all that time and money on a quilt it should be finished by hand.
janome horizonmy baby
What’s your favourite film?
That’s hard to say.  Growing up I was a Pulp Fiction fan. Have seen it dozens of times and each time you watch it is see something new. I would probably say most of the Fast and Furious movies.  Cut me some slack! I’m a guy and I like cars.  If you ask Victoria she would tell you my movie selections are on the girly side of things.  Who doesn’t like a good chick flick from time to time.
Favourite band?
A number of years ago a friend had won some concert tickets from work to see a band that I liked and few that I didn’t really know.  We both ended up liking one of the not known bands and have been a huge fan since then.  If we have met in person at any time in the 3 years I have been in London you would have seen me in one of the dozen or so concert shirts I have from a band called Blue October. An Alt Rock band from Houston Texas. Since my first show I have probably been to at least a dozen shows both in the States and in London.
blue october

What do you do when your not quilting?

When I am not quilting I am building elaborate pop ups for different Publishers around the world. I always have a scissor and paper with me.

pop up book parisMy 75th Anniversary Pop Up for Madeline. Out in early 2014 from Penguin.
teddy pop up
A Pop Up Firetruck with Teddy Bears for the Book Company in Australia.
pop up monstersMy paper monsters for Caterpillar Books.
bamboo bikeI am also training for the London Nightrider again on a Bamboo bike I built.  100K through the streets of London at night raising money for Battersea Dog and Cat Home.  Feel free to Donate with the link above.  Victoria and I have been fostering since we moved back to London. We have had three amazing Staffies.
michael2The big mush, Philip.
dog“is that my ball” Leroy
dog3 the 14 year old, Kay.
First live band?
My first Concert was Poison and Warrant at Nassau Coliseum back in 1990. I was 14 years old and my neighbor took me. Since then I have been to 100′s of shows. I’m a child of the 80′s. Hair Metal was what I listened to.
michael&victoriaRadio 1′s Hackney Big Weekend 2012
Michael blogs over at



ImageModern One-Block Quilts by Natalia Bonner & Kathleen Whiting.  Published by Stash Books.



A beautifully laid out book, all 22 quilt designs are based on a single block design.  So each quilt design could be made with printed or solids and give a new look to each pattern.  The blocks range from simple, beginner friendly to the more advanced.  Therefore, this book does offer something for all quilters.  The quilt designs are all designed in baby quilt size to coverlet size, giving everyone the freedom to make any size desired.  The quilts are constructed using many techniques and these are really well explained with detailed diagrams at the front of the book.


Lanterns – block size 14” x 14”

In the acknowledgments both sets of grandparents are thanked, as they helped sew, unpick and repair sewing machines!  It’s always good to hear that even very established quilters need to unpick!


ImageWiggling 11” x 11”


ImageChurned 10” x 10”




Eight o’clock 8” x 18”


ImageColoured candies 9” x 9”

A really great addition to any quilters book shelf.




Quilt Improv by Lucie Summers

ImageLucie’s fabulous new book, Quilt Improv landed in my Library last week and I have been pouring over it ever since!  I love Lucie’s fabrics and very much enjoyed her porthole quilting class at the Fat Quarterly retreat, as did everyone who took the class.

ImageThe book starts with an introduction into  what improv quilting is and then followed by some wonderful blocks that can be made and built upon.  Lots of techniques used from applique, chain piecing, crazy patching and her signature porthole blocks.


10 fabulous quilt, all well explained with full colour drawings and tips.  Lots of information on pressing, assembly, quilting and finishing.

ImageAnd there is also a little on labeling a quilt, I know I had a ball when we all went along to Lucie’s quilt screen printing class.  I would really recommend this book to every one, lots of information for a new quilter and gives great inspiration to anyone like me who loves to stick to straight lines!