Modern Minimal – Book Review

Modern Minimal by Alissa Haight Carlton reviewed by Ruth.

C & T Publishing

As Alissa is a member of the Modern Quilt Guild I thought for a first review her new book Modern Minimal would be perfect! Her ʻoverall approach and philosophy to quilting is that it can be done in a relaxed and fun way. She doesnʼt agree with the idea that you have to be a perfectionist to be a great quilter. Although you need to pay close attention to craftsmanship, so that the quilt stays in good shape over the years, you donʼt need to be finicky and fussyʼ.  Isnʼt that wonderful!

C & T Publishing

This is a real visual feast for anyone who loves bold colours and a fabulous newer modern approach to quilting.  There are no small blocks or requirements to buy 20 fat quarters, just plain bold minimal shapes and therefore less fabric wastage.
In addition two ways of machine quilting the quilts giving interesting results – all beautifully explained. The quilts are constructed in larger pieces, not built up in a grid like way, often using the full width of the fabrics. The quilts vary in size from baby quilts and lap quilts to a 90 x 95 inch giant.  Some requiring just two fabrics, the fabulous quilt on the front page uses just four.

C & T Publishing

The tips are highlighted and the construction and cutting is visual – which really helps when cutting out.  I did try out a pattern just to see how easy the book would be to follow and the layout and numbering of all the shapes really does make this a very easy to use book, brilliant for everyone!   The quilting options for me where just amazing as I only hand quilt or send my quilt tops to be long arm quilted, just because I’m terrified of ruining what has taken so long to make.  However, the clear diagrams and well-explained instruction really do help to give confidence.  With such an array of Kona solids (RobertKaufman), Cotton Couture solids (Michael Miller) and Bella Solids (Modafabrics) , amongst others, there is every reason to buy this wonderful new book.

C & T Publishing

At the back of the book there is information on basting, long arm quilting, straight line, free motion quilting, hand quilting and finishing touches all explained beautifully.   You will need a rotary cutter, cutting mat and quilter’s ruler to make the projects possible.  Moreover, if you don’t won’t a totally solid quilt, just add in a little of a favourite pattern, Alissa does.

To give the book a full workout I made this baby quilt, the instructions are very visual and as long as one numbers each cut piece it is simple.  I love the Kona solids that I bought here, fabulous depth of colour.  The quilting was explained and I think I just need practise on my machine, maybe I’ll hand quilt the next one and keep practising until I can get my machine quilting better.  But one brilliant book!

Modern Minimal by Alissa Haight Carlton Published by Stash Books                     (published date 28th April 2012)

All the book photographs are from C & T Publishing.

Thanks to Ruth from Two Hippos for reviewing this book.

Meet a Member: Charlotte Newland

Meet a Member: Charlotte Newland

As part of our Q & A series to find out a bit more about our LMQG members. Charlotte Newland answers some questions…

Tell us a little bit about yourself   My name is Charlotte, I have three kids, aged almost 12, 9 and 6 (two girls and a boy), and a lovely American husband. I work part time as a scientific editor for a medical journal, and sewing is my therapy.

When did you begin quilting and what inspired you to start?  I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. My mum made a lot of our clothes and I am old enough to have been taught dressmaking and embroidery at school (ah, the 1970s!). I started quilting when my eldest daughter (now almost 12!) was a baby. I made a very traditional log cabin quilt with very traditional fabrics. There really wasn’t anything else available at the time. Since then, I have lost count of how many quilts I’ve made. 

                                       first ever quilt

Where do you work on your quilts and keep your fabric stash?  I am lucky enough to have my own studio space. We have a garage at the end of our back garden that doubles as my office and sewing room. It is so lovely to not have to put everything away. Not so great when it’s pouring with rain and I have to brave the overgrown rose bushes!

Do you prefer to follow a pattern of improvise?  I like a bit of both, to be honest. It’s nice to have a finished project in mind, particularly when using more precious fabric that has been bought from America, but I also love the freedom to just make it up as I go along and see what happens.

What fabrics do you love right now? I am a complete Denyse Schmidt addict. It’s an illness.

Recently completed Swoon quilt. Hand quilted, because of its enormousness.

Which part of the process do you love / hate the most? I hate basting. Mainly because I have to move all the furniture out of my dining area to get enough floor space. I live in a teeny 1930s house with a giant husband and three kids, so there is a lot of stuff lying around!

What is your biggest quilting mistake?  I tried to make a zig zag quilt once, using triangles. It was a disaster. I didn’t realise that the edges of the pieces had to be offset, so I lost all the points when I tried to sew it together. The whole thing was all wrinkly because of the bias edges, and I had cut the template way too small without realising it, so it was about a quarter of the size it was meant to be. I sewed it into a pillowcase for my eldest daughter and she is really pleased with it, but I can’t stand the sight of it!

Single girl quilt, made as part of a quiltalong. This was my first foray into curves. There was quite a bit of unpicking involved.

What are you working on right now?  I have about a million things on the go right now, as always. I’m making a king size quilt for our bed, and that’s been lurking for about 8 months (with very slow progress). I also have all the fabric to make a quilt for my mum. Goodness knows when I will get around to it – there are at least three other projects in the queue, including an English paper pieced lap quilt that will probably take the rest of the decade!

You can see more on Charlotte’s blog or find her on flickr as the wee pixie.

Thank you Charlotte for letting us into your quilting world.

Bags the Modern Classics – book review


Bags – The Modern Classics: Clutches, Hobos, Satchels and More by Sue Kim

review by Christine

This is a wonderful book absolutely packed with fabulous ideas for making bags. It contains 19 smart and stylish projects, with fairly simple patterns, suitable for beginners through to more advanced sewists. Instructions are straightforward and supported by clear images. If, like me, you are a visual learner who prefers to see how to do things, rather than read instructions, this book will suit you well.

The first section of the book gives basic sewing information and teaches some of the skills needed for bag making such as inserting magnetic snaps, making pockets and making piping. It also gives advice on choosing fabrics and working with colour.

The main part of the book contains 19 patterns, divided into three sections; small bags, clutches and large bags. Projects range from pencil cases and wallets to smart school bags and elegant clutches. The bags are all beautifully photographed and Sue Kim has used stylish modern fabrics to create some stunning bags. I especially liked the way each project is shown in a variety of different colours and sizes providing plenty of inspiration for fabric and colour choices.

In the interests of providing an unbiased and accurate review (and not at all because I am obsessed with making bags) I tried out the Market bag pattern using some lovely Loulouthi velveteen I had stashed. The pattern was well drafted and the instructions clear and simple to follow. Being a bit taller than average I lengthened the straps and was delighted with the result. I like big bags and the finished Market bag was roomy and comfortable to carry.

If you have a few sewing projects under your belt I would highly recommend this book. Beginners with some experience could probably attempt some of the simpler projects. There is plenty for the intermediate to advanced sewists too. The bags look fantastic, the fabrics are modern and stylish and this book will provide plenty of inspiration for sewing projects.

Thanks to Christine for reviewing this book.

Modern Quilting – magazine review

REVIEW of Modern Quilting – Inspiring Quilters Worldwide, by Dianna

Modern Quilting Magazine

At the March meeting of the London Modern Quilt Guild (LMQG) I offered to review this very new and exciting magazine all about Modern Quilting.  Some of the guild’s members were able to attend the launch of this magazine at Ray-Stitch in Islington earlier in the year.

There are regular pages which include the latest news in the quilt world (in this issue our very own London Modern Quilt Guild gets a mention!!); book, shop and web reviews as well as templates, subscriptions and reader’s letters.

The features in Issue 1 span a variety of projects – there is a quilt and pillow case by the renowned fabric designer Amy Butler in some of her beautiful pastel greens, yellows, blues and pink patterned fabric designs; another quilt by a Moda designer Kate Spain and a pretty Flower Quilt by Janet Clare.  Some of the smaller projects which caught my eye were the ‘Scrappy Tiling Pillow’ by Lynne Goldsworthy (Lily’s Quilts Blog) – this is a gorgeous pillow which has raw edge appliqué in a tree design in bright reds, pinks and yellows.  ‘The Conversation Bag’ by Sara Lawson – I wanted to make this immediately – a cute zippered satchel type bag with patchwork squares in rainbow colours; A Patchwork Owl recommended to do as a starter project with kids (; A ‘Mug Cosy’ by Vick Guthrie (editor of this mag) and ‘The Flower Button Pouch’ for mobile phones or glasses by Clare Kingslake  – a good project for beginner quilters.

There are other useful articles on choosing a sewing machine; interviews with Fabric designers and quilters alike – Kate Spain and Aneela Hoey; ideas on how to design your own quilt by Susan Briscoe; free motion quilting from Bethany Nicole Pease and looking at colours and matching fabrics by Katie Garner .

This first issue is comprehensive and informative, worth a look for a multitude of projects and quilting information – have fun with it and happy stitching – Dianna.

Meet A Member: Danielle Coolbear Jenkins

This is the first in a new Q & A series, where we get to know a bit more about each of our  LMQG members. First in line is Danielle Coolbear Jenkins, who does the most amazing quilts by hand.

Tell us a little bit about yourself   I’m a Kiwi married to a Brit and have lived in the UK for just over 6 years – having intending to stay for just 1 year.  I live with my husband Al and 3 boys – James 4, Alex 2 and Lucas 8 ½ months on a  130ft long Peniche, a French equivalent of a Dutch Barge, in the East End of London.  I come from a very crafty family and my mum has been a quilter for as long as I can remember.

        on my wedding day with James

When did you begin quilting and what inspired you to start?   I made my first quilt at he age of 9 having been set a challenge to make a wall-hanging by my mum’s house group at the time – The Blockbusters.  My creation was a very simple Peony block machine pieced with appliqué leaves, a mitred border – completed with a lot of help from my mum.  But that first quilt is very different to what I made next and what I continue to make which is all English Paper Pieced.  I have machine pieced but I don’t enjoy it as much as EPP.

                  the first quilt I made

Where do you work on your quilts and keep your fabric stash? My stash lives in a big plastic box with wheels which lives downstairs, my WIPs – which there are a lot of live in other plastic boxes and drawers.  I work on my couch upstairs, which is always covered with my current projects and a pile of fabric bags with assorted projects and supplies piled next to it and on custom made shelves behind – I really need a better system.

Do you prefer to follow a pattern or improvise?  I don’t think I have ever made anything according to an already existing pattern – except of course for block patterns.  I very much improvise.

            my entry into FoQs last year

Which part of the process do you love / hate the most?  I love the patchwork part more than turning it in to anything – I always have block ideas I want to try and I also love the reverse of EPP – as the seams are all folded as opposed to ironed it makes interesting textures and shapes.

the back of a miniature

What is your favourite type of project?  I make a lot of EPP miniatures as it gives me the opportunity to have an idea come together very quickly  – the majority are WIPs because I haven’t got any idea what to do with them after I have finished the piecing.

my one and only large scale quilt the 3rd I made 6ft square from 1 inch squares all EPP

What are you working on right now?  Today nothing – my February challenge needs a few adjustments and I plan on making a pencil case/roll.  I have a doll quilt half pieced, at least 2 cushions which need backs, an art quilt which I started to make to enter into Festival of Quilts last year (I did finish a miniature in time) which I may change a bit; hopefully making it big enough in time to enter this year.

Danielle has a website which includes her blog: and can be found on flickr as DJCoolbear.

Thank you Danielle for sharing your quilting tales with us.

March Challenge

London Modern Quilt Guild – MARCH CHALLENGE

We have your next challenge!  Using your bag of scraps from the swap, your own scraps and/or your favourite fabrics, create a WONKY LOG CABIN block or a CRAZY block that measures 8.5 inches or 12.5 inches (finished size).  Feeling creative?  Create both if you like!  We will share our creations at the April LMQG meeting.  

The aim is to use up some of your stash to create something fun, colourful, wild and to perhaps take you out of your comfort zone.  Never made one of these blocks before?  Then why not visit the listed links below for a tutorial! 

There are fabulous tutorials over on

Or type in ‘wonky log cabin’ and ‘crazy block’ and see what pops up on the internet.  Flickr has a lot of inspiration too. 

Have fun creating your scrappy Wonky Log Cabin or Crazy block and see you in April!