Book Reviews – Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science and Uncommonly Corduroy

Reviews by Gaye Collins

Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science – by Alexandra Winston

Quilt Lab Front CoverI recently had the opportunity to review this interesting book. At first glance my interest was peaked and drawn to the blending of science and sewing; one of my own special interests. Many of the visual presentations in this book show atomic structures. This form of illustration and design for quilting was a novel approach.

The introduction to the book talks about the authors connection to science and how she wanted to incorporate these structures into her modern quilts. She moves onto a chapter that defines geometry and its variety of shapes. She discusses what is a rectangle, a triangle; what are the formulas to create various sized rectangles, triangles, circles and angles?

The next chapter discusses special angles and how to make these on a grid. A few tips are included with a small list of essential tools needed for designing and sewing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.39.33 AMThe fifth chapter has a well laid out Design Process for creating your own quilt design through to the point of sewing. This was my favourite section in the whole book. The steps in this process moved from inspiration, to design, to turning the design into a workable quilt, to picking colours, fabric and finally sewing. She also includes a chapter on a quilt finishing method.

The remainder of the book is divided into four sections: small projects, rectangles, angles and circles. Each containing three projects.

In my opinion, the projects presented are not for beginning quilters. The directions assume knowledge that many beginners lack. Some of the projects contain so many steps that even an experienced quilter might be turned away.

Overall, I find this an interesting approach to quilting. I like the Design Process. I like the look of some of the projects but I don’t like the way the directions are presented. I also find some of the projects are far too many pieces to arrive at the finished product.

Would I read this book? Yes!
Would I purchase this book? No!

Quilt Lab  photos reprinted from Quilt Lab: The Creative Side of Science by Alexandra Winston.  Published by CT/Stash Books.

Uncommonly Corduroy: Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns and More – by Stephanie Dunphy

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.45.34 AMFrom my very first glance, I found this book to be beautiful! The cover photo immediately caught my eye and inspired me to want to look into this book. The photos inside also inspire one to want to try every project.

This book begins with a Creative Ode To Corduroy; a fun poem. It moves into a section that presents some tips for success, some terminology, some bag making tips and some quilt making tips. Very useful for the following projects.

The majority of the book is split into two sections: bags and scarves which contain seven patterns and quilts which contain nine patterns.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.45.39 AM

Each pattern has a vibrant photo of the project with clearly written instructions for completion. At the beginning of each project is an anecdotal comment which peaks the readers interest.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.45.43 AM

The projects can be handled by both beginners and advanced quilters. I really found this a luscious book; simple and complicated at the same time, user friendly and wonderful to sit with and read just to get inspired.

Would I read this book? Yes!
Would I buy this book? Yes!


Uncommonly Corduroy photos reprinted from Uncommonly Corduroy: Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns and More by Stephanie Dunphy.  Photos by Brent Kane; Published by Martingale.

April 21st Meeting Reminder – new venue!

Our next meeting is 7:00pm, Monday, April 21st

Our April meeting is coming up on Monday and we’ll be meeting at our new venue, the Unitarian Church of Vancouver at 949 W 49th Avenue. Due to the difficulties we experienced with access to our previous venue at our March meeting, we have decided to switch venues earlier than planned. We’re looking forward to many successful meetings at our new space!

Exterior of Hewett Centre, Unitarian Church of Vancouver
Entrance to Hewett Centre, Unitarian Church of Vancouver

Janet Archibald, Terry Aske, and Sheila Wex have all graciously offered to share tips on a variety of binding techniques at this meeting. They have prepared several information sheets which will be available online but which will not be handed out at the meeting.

Binding technique information sheets:
Joining Binding Pieces by Janet Archibald (0.5MB pdf file, 1 page)
Tips for Machine Applied Bindings by Janet Archibald (1.5MB pdf file, 5 pages)
Quilt Facing Finish by Terry Aske (0.5MB pdf file, 7 pages)
Creation of Bias Binding by Sheila Wex (0.05MB pdf file, 2 pages)

Upcoming VMQG Events

Creating Large Working Small workshop with Marianne Haak: 9:30am-5:30pm, Sunday, May 25th, $60 (VMQG members), $65 (non-members). If you’ve signed up, please pay at this meeting to confirm your spot!

April Meeting Details

What: Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild MeetingWhen: 7:00-9:00pm, Monday, April 21st, 2014
Where: Hewett Hall, Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 949 W 49th Ave, Vancouver (at the NE corner of W 49th Ave and Oak St).
Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lot. Street parking is also available.
Transit: The 49 and 17 buses run along 49th Ave and Oak St respectively. The Canada Line has a station at Cambie and 49th.

What to bring:
- 2013/14 membership card, completed membership form and $50 dues for 2013/14 (cheque or cash, membership valid until Oct. 31, 2014) or guest fee ($5) Converging corners blocks by Terry Aske
- calendar for checking upcoming dates
- chequebook
- modern quilt to share at Show and Tell
converging corners blocks for block lottery
- list of your UFOs (Unfinished Objects) for our UFO Challenge and $2/project
Round Robin kit if you are participating
- your name tag
- a mug (none will be supplied)
- treats are welcomed, please email Heather at if you plan to bring something.
- door prizes. Please bring donations to the meeting and sign up at the door prize table.

Agenda:- sign up for show and tell
- Welcome
- Binding Techniques talks by Janet Archibald, Terry Aske, and Sheila Wex
- April Challenge
- Break (eat treats & socialize!; pay for workshop)
- Show and Tell
- Guild Business
- Door Prizes

Note: Members are welcome to request copies of the minutes from previous guild or executive meetings by emailing Heather at

See you there!

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire & VMQG

Mark your calendars, everyone.  We’re fast approaching the 4th Annual Vancouver Mini Maker Faire and we have a booth again this year!



For those of you who haven’t attended in the past, Maker Faire is (quoted from the VMMF website):

“…a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.”

Sounds pretty awesome, right?  It is.  The VMQG has participated in this event every year since it started up in Vancouver.  You know how we geek out about quilting?  Every single maker at the VMMF is equally geeky and enthusiastic about the things they create.  Robotic spider vehicle you can pedal? Check. Remote controlled 40 foot steampunk dragon? Check. Build your own bacon maker? Check. Pyrotechnics, crafts, 3-D printing, hacked computer wizardry? Check, check, check, and most definitely check.

At our booth, we will need volunteers. We’ll have a hands-on project at the Faire that will need supervising, as well as needing a couple bodies in the booth to field questions from visitors.  We also aim to have 4 people  working on quilting demos during the faire (morning and afternoon shifts on both days).

More detail and a sign up sheet for volunteers at our upcoming guild meeting on Monday April 21st.

If you can’t volunteer but still want to attend this killer event, you can pre-purchase your tickets here.


Book Review- Becoming A Confident Quilter

I was recently given the opportunity to read and review a copy of Becoming A Confident Quilter by Elizabeth Dackson, who you may (or should) know as the blogger behind Don’t Call Me Betsy.  I love quilt books, and have amassed quite a collection. There are some I like, some I LOVE, and others that just don’t get there.

Becoming a Confident Quilter
Becoming a Confident Quilter by Elizabeth Dackson

Becoming a Confident Quilter is definitely in my Like shelf, and only because my Love shelf needs a bit of rearranging before I can move it on up there!

I really, genuinely enjoyed Elizabeth’s writing. I thought it was well thought out, greatly informative without overloading, and the quilt projects are fun and increase in steady increments from super simple to more complex in an easy transition.  You can definitely tell that Elizabeth comes from an instruction background (she used to teach doctors how to use technology, not as easy as you might think it would be!). This book is perfect for the immediate beginner- if you have never sewn a quilt in your life, Elizabeth will get  you going!

Monterey Square
Monterey Square

So lets review:

Elizabeth’s personality comes out in her writing, making you feel  like you are sitting in a classroom listening to her speak.  The instructions are clear and concise, easy to understand and follow along. The lessons are well thought out and in a logical order for someone to learn the basics.

Deconstructed Beads
Deconstructed Beads

The section on stash building is a refreshing change to the standard color wheel basics. She goes over how to choose fabrics, how to build a functional stash to pull from, and goes over the more common pre-cuts and how to utilize them. Elizabeth also covers the basic quilting tools you need to get started, plus some fun extras to make your sewing life a breeze.

X Marks The Spot
X Marks The Spot

The project diagrams are clear and colorful, and easy to follow. Each project has a story behind it and how it relates to the lessons, and where it fall in your repertoire of skills. The construction diagrams are easy to read as well.


The sections on finishing your quilt is very informative and well laid out. Elizabeth covers various options for backing, basting, quilting and binding, and presents the information in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. There is also a glossary of the most commonly used terms, advice on how to read a quilt pattern, and a resources for support and information for a new quilter.

Precious Stones
Precious Stones

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to get started on a couple of the quilts.  I would recommend it to any quilter, whether just starting their quilting journey or those who are well on their way!

Happy Stitching!

Stacey Day

Book photos reprinted from Becoming A Confident Quilter: Lessons and Techniques Plus 14 Quilt Patterns by Elizabeth Dackson.  Photos by Brent Kane; Published by Martingale.

Member Spotlight – Samantha D.


Name: Samantha
Hometown: Langley, BC
Current Home: Surrey, BC
Blog address :
Flickr name: makinglifeprettier
Instagram: makinglifeprettier

Do you have a day job? What is it?
I am at home with my girls at the moment but I do have my Early Childhood Education and worked in a daycare as a teacher prior to being a Mom.

When did you join the VMQG and why?
Back in August I met my Instagram friend Christina who happened to live 10 minutes away from me. I think we were both in search for a local sewing buddy ;) She asks me if I would be interested to coming to the meetings with her. So we decided to come in September 2013 and then joined in November! It was so nice to meet many of you in person. I had felt the support and was inspired via blogs and Instagram but it is way better in person! It is so awesome to get out of the house and be in a room with so many creative minds who share the same love for fabrics!

When did you start quilting?
I have only been quilting for about two years but sewing since childhood. I did make my very first quilt when I was pregnant with my now three year old but I don’t really count that one. My husband had suggested that I needed a hobby and I for sure found one that I love!

Why do you quilt?
I quilt because I love to wrap those I care about in my love! I also create to make someone smile, to learn something new, and to hopefully inspire someone else. Another reason I quilt is because I love that it is something that stays I can clean my dishes, fold my clothes and sweep the floor but within moments those things are always ruined!

What is your favourite project?
I think that my favourite recent project is Mr. Fox I was totally addicted to making him! He was made for a swap but isn’t that the way it should be?! You need to love what you make no matter who it is for!


What are you working on right now?
I am finishing up a spider web quilt top with some text prints, Indian Summer and various neutral solids as the background for my first ever quilty friend, she constantly encourages me and has helped me become the quilter I am. We are exchanging quilt tops when she comes to visit from Australia.


Where do you create? Can we see a photo of your sewing space?
We moved into our house in August that we had been building for quite some time and now I am blessed with an awesome sewing room instead of using the dining room! I still need some more color and character in here though. I feel so lucky to have this space even though my daughter now thinks I need to share it with her.


Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! I love to look through Flickr, Instagram, quilting books, blogs, and of course my family and friends play a huge role in my inspiration because I want to create something for them that they will love forever!

What’s one thing we might not know about you?
I swore I would never ever sew after I moved out of my Mother’s house, lol. I grew up in a home where my Mom was a working seamstress. I learned how to hem men’s dress pants and sew on buttons at an early age when she worked at various drycleaners. I later learned how to bead wedding dresses, gather a crinoline, manipulate lace, sew a bustle, and slip stitch shoulder seam lining closed as she worked at various bridal shops. She was not a “quilter” but I did learn a great deal from her because she doesn’t think “inside the box” and taught me that there is always a way to get something right.

What do you do when you’re not creating/quilting?
I am busy being a Mom of two young girls. We bake cookies, play with play dough, paint, play with dolls and so on. I have to do all that boring stuff too like planning meals and cleaning but sometimes those get ignored to quilt, lol.


What kind of sewing machine(s) do you have?
I am a new owner of a Pfaff Expressions 4.2. We are still getting to know each other. Prior to that I was using a Pfaff Tiptronic 1171 which my five year old daughter is now learning how to sew on!

What new technique or pattern is highest on your list to learn or do?
I am planning a selfish project of making myself the Jaybird Chopsticks quilt. It is a triangle quilt and I haven’t made one of those before. I am excited to work on a quilt for me!

Spaces available in our April 4th Sew-in!

Our next sew-in is happening this Friday and there are several spots open! Did you miss the sign up sheet during all the venue-switching action of our March meeting? Never fear, there’s still time to sign up! We’d love for you to join us on Friday, April 4th from 6:00-11:00pm at Holy Trinity Anglican Church (details below).

Susan working on the layout of her quilt at our January sew-in

Enjoy open sewing time with your VMQG friends! Baste a quilt on the large raised table! Cut out your next quilt using the large cutting mat! This is a great time to work on your sewing in the company of fellow quilters.

We supply the tables and chairs, irons, cutting mats, and tea. Donations of treats are always welcomed!

You need to bring your machine (don’t forget the foot pedal!), supplies for your projects, extension cord, power bar, tools, and dinner.

The Details

Holy Trinity Map

What: VMQG Sew-in

When: 6:00-11:00pm,
Friday, Apr. 4th, 2014

Where: Parish Hall, Holy Trinity Church,1440 West 12th Avenue at Hemlock Street, Vancouver. Enter through the main doors on the south side of West 12th and go up the elevator to the second floor.

Cost: There is a $10 fee for each sew-in if you pre-pay before the sew-in day (you can pay via PayPal if you like, please pay $10.60, the sixty cents covers the PayPal fees) and a $15 fee at the door. Members get first opportunity on the 12 or so spaces available. If you are not a VMQG member, consider joining or email us to see if there is space available for you.

There is a kitchen at Holy Trinity, so you will be able to heat up your dinner if you wish.
Parking: There is a small parkade off of West 12th Avenue with about ten spaces however most of them are marked small car only. Parking is limited on street. There are three spaces in the alley behind the church and they access the Parish Hall through the alley (a phone number will be posted on the door if the doors are locked).
How do I sign up? You can sign up by paying $10.60 via PayPal (see PayPal instructions at the bottom of our membership page), or by paying $15 at the door.

Please contact Holly ( to register or with any questions.

See you there!

Round Robin: April Assignment

Hello Round Robin participants! How did March’s assignment agree with you? I had fun with some improv triangles.

For April, you’ll be adding 2″ finished (2½” unfinished) borders with cornerstones on all sides of the piece, like so:


Again, the borders in the image are plain and are for illustration purposes. Definitely use your creativity and any wishes noted in the project’s journal to guide you.

This blog post is one in a series. You can find the other posts about the Round Robin by clicking on this post’s tag below. Any questions? Email me!


Block Challenge and Lottery – Converging Corners

This month’s block challenge is called Converging Corners, based on a tutorial by Ashley at Film in the Fridge.

When the blocks are put together, a fun design is created where the corners converge!  It’s a great way to use up scraps and strips!

The details:

  • The block pattern is Converging Corners by Film in the Fridge
  • Make one or more blocks, 12″ finished size (12 1/2″ square)
  • Use the same color scheme in the tutorial : solid white for the background, bright (saturated color) prints or solids for the rest. Use a large, fun print for the center square.
  • Bring your block to the April meeting.  Each block will give you one ticket for the block lottery.

The finished quilt by Ashley at Film in the Fridge:fitf_convergingcorners


Blocks made by the Great Lakes MQG (where I first spotted this idea):Great Lakes MQG Converging Corners blocks


My sample blocks (I just had to make 4 blocks, so I could see the corners converge!):DSCN3407


My tip – mark the center of a 12 1/2 inch square ruler to help you keep your center square near the middle of the block:DSCN3422



Upcoming Workshop with Marianne Haak!

We are very excited to announce this upcoming next workshop!

Marianne Haak, who blogs at The Quilting Edge, will be coming to Vancouver to teach us a QAYG (quilt as you go) workshop on Sunday, May 25th.

Marianne is a Canadian quilter who divides her time between Edmonton and Victoria, and we are lucky enough to catch her while she’s on the West Coast. Marianne has embraced QAYG (despite owning a long arm!), and creates the most incredible quilts using this technique. You may be familiar with her quilt Colour Shot, from The Blogger’s Quilt Festival last year. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Colour Shot

The workshop is titled Creating Large Working Small, and here’s what Marianne had to say about it -

Discover the advantages of Quilt as You Go!

Log Cabin Blocks

Quilting an eighteen inch block, as opposed to quilting a larger sized quilt, has some real advantages. The obvious one being that everything fits under the machine during quilting, resulting in less swearing whoops, I meant to say less frustration in the sewing room. QAYG also lends itself very well to improvisational type quilting; I almost like to think of it as Design as You Go. I plan to share with you some of my design process using QAYG.

• Creating a QAYG Block….Wonky Log Cabin
• Joining the blocks with narrow joiner strips
• Joining the blocks with wide joiner strips
• Adding QAYG Borders
• How to quilt a spiral

Rachel's Quilt

Wouldn’t you love to learn how to create quilts like this in a small space?

Creating Large Working Small: Discover the advantages of Quilt as You Go with Marianne Haak

Date: Sunday May 25rd, 2014

Time: 9:30am – 5:30pm

Place: TBA (Vancouver)

Cost: $60 for VMQG members, $65 for non-members

Sign-up: Sign ups are now open for members of VMQG. We will open sign ups for non-members (space permitting) on April 14th. Please email Amy at to sign up between meetings.

Payment: Please pay at the meeting when you sign up, send a payment of $62 (members) or $67 (non-members) to via PayPal, or send a cheque with a note that it’s for the workshop to:
Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild
PO Box 78037 RPO Grandview
Vancouver, BC V5N 5W1

Not So Negative

Our needlebook exchange with the London Modern Quilt Guild!

Time flies so quickly in these busy times and I’m only managing to get to my post about the needlebook exchange two months and a bit after the fact!  Mine is being used in my hexie travel kit. How about yours?
Van needlebooks
Van needlebooks group

I spoke with Krista to find out more on how the exchange came to be. “The swap came about very late one evening of the Fat Quarterly retreat when I was in the lounge of the Grange Hotel with members of the LMQG. We were laughing and carrying on, tired from our long day at retreat and a few glasses of wine. I can’t remember exactly how the swap came about but London hadn’t done an international swap yet and we decided we should get one going! I think it was Shevvy or expat Canadian Amy, or maybe Kelly who suggested it. I mentioned VMQG had already done Tote bag and pin cushion swaps so we settled on needle books to keep the cost of shipping down. Their guild is smaller than ours but several Londoners were keen to make more than one needle book. It was really fun to see how many quilters from each guild incorporated cultural elements into their needlebooks. All in all a super fun swap!”

It was super lovely to receive and open our needlebooks at our holiday meeting. And looking at the pile of wrapped books, it was really hard to choose!!

UK needlebooks wrapped

It was a wonderful experience to share with a modern guild from so far away! A huge thank you from everyone at the VMQG to the LMQG for joining in on the fun!

UK needlebooks group photo