Barb Mortell – Breaking the Rules

Barb Mortell came to our May meeting from Denman Island, where she follows her passion for innovative and improvisational quilting, and other creative pursuits.  The theme of her presentation was “Log Cabins – Traditions & Innovations.”  As we admired and studied her quilts, Barb talked about how the traditional log cabin block can be reinvented with such techniques as stretching the blocks, varying the widths of the logs in one block, and incorporating our own “made” fabric.

Barb told us that she had been strongly influenced by the African American quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and she also mentioned Nancy Crow, an Ohio quilt artist, and Sherry Lynn Wood, an Oakland, California artist and quilt maker.

We were given some tips about expanding our quilting brain, such as working and playing with one block for a while, trying not to overthink, going with your intuition, and working on a small project when you are stuck creatively.  Barb has sometimes encouraged quilters to ditch their rotary cutters and rulers and cut their fabric with scissors — imagine that!

Her unique and captivating quilts illustrate what can be achieved when we escape from our quilting boxes and break a few “rules.”  Barb is a charming and relaxed presenter who reminds us of the joy to be found in creating with fabric.

See a selection of Barb’s quilts in the gallery below.  Some of the quilts were made by Stacey Armstrong, Barb’s neighbour and quilting collaborator.

Visit Barb Mortell’s website here.

Machine Quilting in November 2013

At our meeting Lynn Fanthorpe came to speak on Fearless Machine Quilting.
Following are some of Lynn’s hints for successful machine quilting.

  • Use sheets of unlined paper and practice machine quilting ideas.  This can help your brain get into the rhythm and flow of what you want to do on your quilt.
  • Use machine quilting gloves.
  • Needles she prefers are those labelled – Embroidery, Quilting, Jeans, or Metallic because of the longer groove in the shank.
  • She changes the needle after 5-6 hours of quilting.
  • Don’t go too fast.
  • Don’t stitch while moving your hands.
  • If your machine quilting mat is sliding around too much, wash it in soapy water and it will be sticky again.
  • Her favourite book machine quilting book: Quilting Makes the Quilt

All the talk of machine quilting set us up for the Community Quilts Day later in November.  21 members came and helped finish up quilts.  A dozen or so members were willing to practice their machine quilting skills and impressed everyone with their efforts.  Quilt on!

October and the VMQG

Everyone enjoyed our speakers from the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild.  Holly Broadland is the founder of the VMQG and co-President and Felicity Ronaghan is the other co-President.

Holly and Felicity talked about the Internet and the role it has in Modern Quilting, both in spreading ideas and in helping people connect and share their interest.  They talked about their interpretation of Modern Quilting and finished with a trunk show.

Following are a few links that were mentioned:

    • Holly’s blog is holly’s red bike – scroll down on her blog for a picture of Holly with her rainbow quilt
    • Felicity’s blog is Felicity Quilts – read Felicity’s FAL (Finish-a-Long) Goals
    • The next Quiltcon is in 2015
    • – an online source for courses and hints

Other hints from Holly and Felicity —

    • Flckr and Pinterest are used to share and organize pictures
    • On the Internet there FALs and there are “Quilt Alongs”
    • You can find books at the public library by searching with the keywords – modern quilting
    • Pinterest

From Lorna – we have some Modern Quilting books and they will have a wide green label on them.


Non-slip Mat and More

Oddments from Linda S

  • There is a neat idea for a mat for under one’s sewing machine on the blog she can quilt.
  • When you are looking at blogs and you find one that you like, check out the blogs that that person follows.   Linda finds she is often exposed to blogs that she would not ordinarily find.
  • If you like a particular blog subscribe to their newsletter.  If you lose interest in the newsletter or don’t like it any more, you can always unsubscribe.
  • No matter what quilting problem you are coping with, you can Google it and find hints and solutions.

Happy Surfing


Another interesting meeting.  Who knew that sewing machine maintenance could be such a funny topic!

  • With Carola last month and, now, Tom saying that the most important thing we can do is change the needle I need to make sure I have a couple of packages of needles handy at all times.
  • Tom’s second most important hint was dust bunnies.  I wonder how many of our members will be cleaning their machines today.
  • Then there is the dreaded oil – use it sparingly.
  • Tom’s last hint: Keep in mind the 4 food groups and how many sleeps until Christmas.

Tom’s Sewing Machine is online at KLS Sewing Centre.  Tom mentioned that they have fabric, notions, and a booking system for sewing machine repairs.

Tom with Ellen