Author Archives: amydame

A Perfect Scant ¼” Seam Allowance

The VMQG guild executive recently asked me (Krista) to give a presentation on accuracy. Whether you tend to make measured, traditional style blocks or you prefer improv quilting, maintaining a scant 1/4″ seam allowance will lead to neater work, more resilient seams, less bulk to quilt through, blocks that fit together and the satisfaction of pointy points where you want them. 

Both beginners and experienced quilters alike can benefit from a seam allowance tune-up. You’d be surprised how many people have struggled for ages, wondering why their measured blocks don’t end up the planned size.  The test doesn’t take long and once your seam allowance is established, you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of blocks that fit together as your patterns intend, without distortion from stretching short edges or puckers from gathering generous ones. Refresh your accuracy by performing the simple test below and remember that you’ll need to repeat this on ALL of your machines (because, ahem, a few of us sew on more than one machine).  If you are sewing a project using bulkier fabric such as Essex linen, or fine fabric such as lawn, it would be a good idea to repeat this test with the actual fabric being used for the project!

BUT WHY “SCANT”? Quilt blocks are measured to the 1/4″ based on side-pressing of seams within the block. A scant 1/4″ seam is necessary because we need to allow room in the pressed-over fold for the piecing thread as well as the one or two threads of fabric on the edge of the fold.  A fine, 50 wt piecing thread takes up very little room in seams, which is one of the reasons the Aurifil brand is so popular with quilters. 


1. Accurately cut five 2 1/2″ squares of pressed, quilting weight cotton. Measure with your quilting rulers, not the cutting mat.

2. Using your normal piecing thread, sew the squares together along side seams, creating one long strip unit.
3. Press seams flat to set stitches, then press seams all to one side in the same direction.
1/4" test

1/4" test

4. Measure the unit by placing your quilting ruler on top of the strip. It should measure 10 1/2″.


5. If your strip is less than 10 1/2″ long, then your seam allowance is larger than a scant 1/4″. If your strip is greater than 10 1/2″ long, then your 1/4″ is too scant. 


My strip is larger than 10 1/2″ long
  • confirm pieces accurately measure 2 1/2″ square
  • confirm seams are all pressed to one side in the same direction (NOT OPEN). 
  • fold over the last square and re-press the seam flat. Place your ruler on top of the right edge, aligning the edge of the ruler with the edge of the fabric. Your stitches should be visible just to the right (or inside) of the 1/4″ ruler line. If you can see fabric between the 1/4″ line and your line of stitches, then your seam is too scant.
This seam is just a hair too scant because you can see fabric between the 1/4″ line on the ruler and the line of stitches.
My strip is smaller than 10 1/2″ long
  • confirm pieces  accurately measure 2 1/2″ square
  • confirm from the right side that the fabric of each square is fully pressed out over the seam
  • fold over the last square and re-press the seam flat. Place your ruler on top of the right edge, aligning the edge of the ruler with the edge of the fabric. Your stitches should be visible just to the right (or inside) of the 1/4″ ruler line.If your stitches are under the 1/4″ line, then you’ve sewn an exact 1/4″ seam, not a scant one; you need to decrease your seam allowance by about 2 thread widths.  If your stitches are fully to the outside, or left of the 1/4″ line, then your seam allowance is too generous (big) and adjustments to decrease it need to be made (move needle one notch to the right or adjust your seam guide closer to the presser foot).
In general, as I’ve had students perform this test in workshops, it appears that many manufacturer’s 1/4″ patchwork feet with fence guide attached on the right side of the foot are actually a bit generous. If you have one of these feet, hold it up to the light. Can you see daylight between the edge of the foot and the fence? If so, chances are that the edge of the foot is actually the scant 1/4″ and the fence it a true 1/4″.
Good luck! Let us know how you make out in the comments and leave any questions you may have there as well. I’ll try to answer questions in subsequent comments, so check back.

Swap time!!

It’s been a while since we’ve done a swap with another guild, so we’re excited to announce a mini-mini quilt swap with Ottawa Modern Quilt Guild!

swap image omqgandvmqgswap

What’s a mini-mini quilt?

It’s a small quilt with a minimum perimeter of 24″, and a maximum perimeter of 48″. That means length + length + width + width will add up to at least 24″, but no more than 48″. You can make your mini-mini quilt any shape you like, as long as it fits within 24″-48″ perimeter. A square quilt 12″ x 12″ would be the maximum perimeter.

Remember how fun our mini quilt swap back in 2014 was? This will be just as great, but with quilts half the size!

mini quilt group shot

Wanna participate this time around? Here’s the details!

– This is a SECRET swap. When you sign up, you’ll fill out a questionnaire. When you’re assigned someone to sew for, you’ll be sent their questionnaire. This means that you’ll get something made specifically for you, taking your likes and dislikes into consideration. Awesome! Most people will be assigned a partner from the Ottawa Modern Quilt Guild, though if the numbers are uneven, a few VMQG members might end up swapping with each other. The person you’re sewing for will not be the same person as who’s sewing for you.

– You’ll be making a MODERN mini-mini quilt based on your partner’s likes and dislikes. Everyone has different levels of quilting experience, but we’ll all be doing our best possible work.

– Since it’s a secret swap, hints and in-progress pics are totally welcome! Please use the hashtag #omqgandvmqgswap so that we can all follow along.

– Sign ups will start today, January 16, 2017, and will go to February 1, 2017. That gives you a little over two weeks to sign up.

– Sign ups will be ONLINE only.

– Partners will be assigned by February 15, 2017, and your partner’s information will be emailed to you

– You’ll bring your finished mini quilt back to the April guild meeting, on April 17th, 2017. We’ll mail all of the quilts together to Ottawa, and they’ll mail all of theirs to us. Quilts will be distributed at the May guild meeting, on May 15th, 2017.

– Quilts should have some sort of hanger attached. this can be a sleeve, triangles in the two upper corners, whatever works best for the quilt you make.

– This is a members-only activity. supporting your guild has its perks!

Are you excited yet?

Click here to sign up! Continue reading

Pincushion Swap!

This year’s winter interguild swap is PINCUSHIONS!

(examples shown at the October meeting, pincushions made by various people, including amy, Berene and Laurraine)

We did a pincushion swap a very very long time ago, with Kansas City MQG, so it’s about time we did one within VMQG!

The guidelines are simple:
– small enough to fit inside a brown paper lunch bag
– the top must be pieced or decorated in some way, such as english paper piecing, foundation paper piecing, improv, patchwork, embroidery, etc

If you’d like to swap, no need to sign up! Just bring your finished pincushion to the December guild meeting, attach a tag to it so that the recipient knows who made it, and there will be a table where you can set it and let everyone else admire it. Later in the meeting, we’ll put the pincushions in paper bags, and have a secret swap, where everyone grabs a bag at random. Fun and simple!

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the pinterest board i made for the original swap and see if anything catches your eye.

Several people asked about the pincushion i shared at the October meeting, the shape is called a biscornu, and it’s a traditional needlework shape. i found a great tutorial on how to make a fabric one here!

(A few tips on making a biscornu – mark the centre of your squares before you stitch them together, and check out how i threaded the needle to sew the button on in this tutorial for a slick way to avoid having a visible knot. If you do that loop around one of the buttons instead of around the fabric, you won’t have to worry about it ripping the fabric or popping through when you pull it tight. Make sure you use a polyester thread though, cotton can break when you pull it snug – i learned that the hard way!)

UFO Challenge Extended!

We have a a great meeting coming up this month, with a special guest speaker Kathleen Riggins, membership renewals, and our annual executive elections.

Because the meeting is so jam-packed, and we want to leave lots of time to learn from Kathleen, our Show and Tell time will be extremely limited.

As such, we’re extending the Unfinished Objects Challenge deadline until out November guild meeting!

For a refresher of the UFO challenge, you can check out this blog post from 2015 (same rules in 2016!) The important thing is that the finished item must be shown at Show and Tell to be counted – which means we’ll need lots of show and tell time, since so many people will have finished UFOs to show, right? 😉

If you’ve already finished your UFOs in preparation for our October meeting, good for you. That just means you’ll get to start something new that much sooner!

“Soul Journeys”: Katie Stein Sather and Karen Johnson

VMQG member Terry Aske has advised us of an exciting opportunity to view “Soul Journeys: the quest for completion and connection” by arriving early to the VMQG October 17, 2016 meeting.

Access to this exuberant textile art exhibit is available from 6:00-6:30 pm in the Unitarian Church Sanctuary and in the Fireside Room (in Hewett Hall where we meet, back behind the kitchen). The spaces where the show is exhibited will be in use from 6:30 on, so you MUST arrive between 6 and 6:30 to view it. Holly Williams will be at the meeting early for this purpose.

If you can’t make it to the meeting early, the exhibit runs from October 18-November 12, 2016. You can meet the artists at a reception on October 23, 2016, from 3:00-5:00 pm, or alternately, telephone the church at 604 261-7204 to arrange a viewing time.


For more information, check out the blog of one of the artists, Katie Stein Sather, where she shares her artist statement for the show.

Speed Date With Improv!

Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild is excited to announce an upcoming workshop with our very own Krista Hennebury!

Krista blogs at Poppyprint Creates and her book Make It, Take It was published by Martingale in January 2015. Krista has long been a popular teacher within VMQG and other guilds in the lower mainland, but in the last few years quilters outside of our area have been able to learn from her as well, as she traveled to Alaska, Inuvik (NWT) and Sweden (and more!) to teach.

This workshop is especially exciting because it’s brand new, and VMQG members will be the first ones ever to take it. Read below for a description of the workshop, and how to sign up!


Speed Date with Improv is a face-paced one day workshop for the improv-curious quilter who’s ready to let go and work without stressing, obsessing or second guessing!

In the morning we’ll work our way through several fun improv piecing techniques; Krista will demo each technique, then you’ll return to your cutting mat and machine to try it out for yourself before the bell rings for your next improv demo-date. Later in the afternoon, we’ll play on the design wall, searching for serendipitous intersections of line and shape in a final layout. You’ll learn how to jigsaw your piecing together into a pleasing abstract composition that will serve as a mini-improv sampler reference for future work.

Students are encouraged to work with solids and limit their fabric palette to black, white plus one colour for high contrast visual impact and definition of line and shape. Discussion will also cover the work of improv master quilters and recommended resources for further exploration of technique.


When: Sunday, November 20, 2016

Where: Room C, Croatian Cultural Centre

Time: 10am-5pm

Cost: $55 for members, $60 for non-members

Sign-up: Please send your payment via etransfer or paypal to and then email Amy at to sign up. (If you pay via etransfer, please also send an email to treasurer with the password you chose!)

Sign ups are open to members at this time, the class will be open for non-members after our October meeting (if spaces are still available)

VMQG Showcase Raffle Quilt Winner

We are pleased to announce that our own Nancy Chan won our Quiltcon Charity Quilt that was raffled off at our fabulous first ever Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild Modern Quilt Showcase which was held at the PipeShop in North Vancouver on August 27 and 28, 2016.

The Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild raffle draw for BC Gaming Event License #87059 was drawn on Sunday, August 28, 2016.

Proceeds from the raffle will benefit Mom2Mom Child Poverty Initiative. We will be rounding up our donation to $1,000.

Congratulations Nancy!! Thank you to everyone who worked on the quilt!


Block Printing with Lysa Flower

Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild is excited to announce a blockprinting workshop with VMQG member Lysa Flower on October 2, 2016!

(photo credit to Carol Browne)

Lysa is one of the founders of the Fraser Valley Modern Quilt Guild, a lifelong artist, and a super creative quilter. She blogs at You might have seen her Nintendo Controller quilt or Mix Tapes quilt in our Modern Quilt Showcase!

This is what she had to say about the class:
Love fabric? Have you ever thought of designing and printing your own? It can be tricky knowing where to start. Join Lysa Flower and create your very own fabric with these three easy steps.

Step one: Create a design – Design a repeat block and various other repeat patterns.

Step two: Carve a block – Use the proper technique to carve a lino block with your repeat pattern.

Step three: Printing! – Ink your palette, roll, press and print. Your life will never be the same!

Supply fee covers the lino, palettes, palette knives, ink, test paper/fabric and sketch paper/pencils.

Students will have to supply roller and carving tools, exacto knives, aprons and their own final fabric to print on.

The workshop is on Sunday, October 2, 2016. It will be held in Room C at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, from 10am-5pm.
The workshop fee is $50 for members, $55 for non-members. There is also a $20 supply fee that will be payable to Lysa at the workshop.

THIS WORKSHOP IS CURRENTLY FULL. If you would like to be on the waitlist, please email Amy at

Modern Quilt Showcase!

Please join us as we showcase the fabulous work of our members! Families welcome! This incredible renovated shipyard warehouse will be a gorgeous industrial backdrop for our work – this’ll be a brand new quilt show like you’ve never seen in the Lower Mainland.

We’ll have over 100 modern quilts on display from wall hanging to large bed-sized quilts. Some will be for sale (visa & mastercard accepted). In addition, learn about the modern design aesthetic at our Modern Mini Quilt Showcase wall and try your hand at designing  your own mini quilt composition. Volunteer guild members will be there to guide you.

We also have a gorgeous raffle quilt! Tickets are only $2/ea and 100% of proceeds will support Vancouver’s Mom to Mom Poverty Iniative

ADMISSION ONLY $5, children < 12 free

On Saturday evening there is a free community concert adjacent to our venue along with many exciting food trucks to 10:00 p.m. It’s going to be a party!


Calling All Volunteers!

As many of you know already, VMQG is hosting its first ever Quilt Showcase at the Pipe Shop in North Vancouver (click here for details) on August 27 & 28.  

We’re really excited to showcase modern quilting with over 100 quilts from our guild members, as well as a Modern Mini Demonstration area for the public!

In order to pull this event off, we’re going to need volunteers for a whole variety of jobs including:

–          Quilt collection & return

–          Set up and tear down

–          Security & hosting

–          Admission & ticket sales

–          Demonstration area

We’ll need people who are handy with a drill and a ladder, as well as crafty folks who like to engage with the public and show off their talents.

If you’re able to volunteer, please click here to complete the Google form and sign up by July 15.

Thanks everyone!