Gee’s Bend Quilts on display at DePaul Art Museum

Whether you’re an experienced quilter, novice, or know nothing at all, you still can appreciate the artistic beauty and historic significance of Gee’s Bend Quilts. Now through June 22, the DePaul Art Museum (located at the DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus),  will display examples from Gee’s Bend in addition to other more modern quilts from the region of western Alabama. Gee’s Bend quilts, some dating back to the 1800s, carry more colorful and geometric designs from the Euro-American quilts of that time. The departure from that style is just one reason why these quilts are so sought after. For more information on the exhibit, visit the DePaul Art Museum at 935 W. Fullerton, just east of the CTA’s Fullerton ‘L’ stop in Chicago. It is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, call 773-325-7506 or visit


This 84-by-87 inch quilt made by Mary Maxtion was made around 1991 and is called the “Everbody Quilt.” It is made of cotton, polyester, wool and rayon. The quilt will be on display at the DePaul Art Museum April 10 – June 22. (Image courtesy of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts)


Sew for the Skill of It

Internaional Sewing Month

September is National Sewing Month and this year’s theme is Sew for the Skill of It. We’re always thinking about ways to sharpen our sewing skills and it’s always exciting when we find new ways to celebrate the gift that those skills are.

Recently, word has been spreading about a fabulous reality TV show called the Great British Sewing Bee that has home sewists competing based solely on their sewing skills. The show sprinkles in some interesting historical information and gives glimpses of the contestants’ backgrounds, but the focus is the craft of sewing and how well the contestants execute the challenges, which include following a pattern, making made-to-measure clothes for real people and upcycling a purchased article of clothing. The sewing room is stocked with exquisite fabrics and trims referred to as the haberdashery. The judges are an expert sewing teacher and a Saville Row tailor and the drama comes, not from personality conflicts, but from hoping the contestants will be able to finish the challenges in time. It’s all very civilized and no bleeping is required. Contestants talk about “unpicking” their mistakes (so much gentler-sounding than ripping) and one remarked that a fabric had a mind of its own so she had to “speak to it very firmly.”  Wouldn’t it be great if we had something similar here in the US? A contest like this would be a great addition to ASG’s National Conference, for instance.

Season Two of the Great British Sewing Bee is in the works and the full episodes from Season One can be viewed on YouTube.  Watching is fun, but doing is what we sewing fanatics love best. Let’s all celebrate National Sewing Month by tackling a project that tests our skills, learning or brushing up on a technique that’s gotten the better of us in the past. Do it for the skill of it.

Break free! Go bold! Rethink quilting with Jacquie Gering.

“Break free! Go bold!” That’s what Jacquie Gering wrote in my copy of the book she co-authored with Katie Pedersen, Quilting Modern: Techniques and projects for improvisational quilts. Free? Bold? Yes, exactly! ASG Chicago welcomed Jacquie on Nov. 10 to speak on the topic of modern quilting, fabric choices, design, and techniques. Leaving her corporate job a few years ago, Jacquie took up quilting with a drive like none other. Hundreds of quilts later, she is a strong believer in improvising, trial and error, and using the quilts we make every day.IMG_1315

No stranger to needle and thread, Jacquie explained that she sewed the majority of her clothes growing up. Once she had a job and could buy her clothes, the sewing machine was packed away for year and years. She credits an exhibit on the Gee’s Bend Quilters for igniting the spark in her to dust off her sewing machine and learn to quilt. “I didn’t really know the specifics of how to quilt when I started, but I figured there would be some YouTube video or other online course to watch, and there was!” she said.

By trial and error, Jacquie developed a quilting technique that has earned her respect of modern and traditional quilters across the globe.  Her quilts are full of stories about her life, family, and unabashed fearlessness to look at a traditional pattern in a new way. “There are a lot of categories for quilting now. It’s like art movements. If I were in a category, it would probably be ‘improvisational’ because I respect the traditional patterns and methods, but like to put a new twist on them.”

ModernQuiltMagazineVoice of the Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog, Jacquie is a fairly recent transplant to the Chicago area (from Kansas City), but has made a name for herself within the modern quilting movement for the past few years. In fact, Jacquie and Katie’s book was highlighted in the current issue of Modern Quilting Magazine with a detailed article on their Stepping Stones quilt. For modern quilting, she explained that the technique or movement focuses a lot on solid fabrics and the use of negative space. Modern quilts often do not use borders, which is why bindings are so important. For example, in her tin ceiling quilt that used yards of fabric selvedge, she told the audience that she expected any color to work for the binding, but realized that a linen-cream solid was the only color that didn’t district from the rest of the pattern.

Personally, as a someone who is new to quilting, I found Jacquie’s lecture inspiring. Seeing her deconstructed log cabin quilt not only makes me what to make one, but also learn about the traditional log cabin pattern to understand how Jacquie pulled it apart. And now I am off, to be free and go bold!

New and Improved: The ASG Chicago Web Site!

The ASG Chicago Chapter web site has undergone a facelift. Everything from Susan’s fabulous banner photo to ease of navigation is new and, if we must say so ourselves, much improved. But don’t take our word for it. Check it out for yourself. Then send your friends.

Thanks go to Priscilla, our hard-working Web Master (she doesn’t want to be called a mistress, and who can blame her?) for all her hard work to make this transformation. She and Susan researched other ASG chapter web sites and developed a site that we can all be proud of.



ASG Chicago Reaches Out to Sewing Sisters in Joplin

Five sewing machines, a generous assortment of notions, patterns and sewing magazines are on their way to ASG members in Joplin, Missouri, thanks to the great work of the Palos Heights Neighborhood Group, Flying Needles. These thoughtful ladies collected donations at the ASG Chicago Fashion Show in October and supplemented with their own efforts to help restore the sewing rooms of ASG members who lost so much in last summer’s devastating tornado. Thanks go to Terri and Anna for organizing the project and to Terri’s husband for making it possible to ship all 332 pounds of supplies. To our sewing sisters in Joplin, enjoy getting back to the pastime you love.

11-11-11 is the closest date to corduroy EVER!


Buy a Tie, Support the Club

What does 11-11-11 look like to you? Try 111111. Lines? How about corduroy wales. Yep, that’s right, corduroy wales. Just visit The Corduroy Appreciation Club and they will tell you all about it. The CAC is a social organization that meets twice a year: 11-11 and 1-11. Both are dates that closely resemble the vertical lines of corduroy wales. Their slogan is “All Wales Welcome” and mascot is, you guessed it, the whale.

This Friday, November 11, bust out the corduroy in appreciation of a cloth the evokes images of well groomed ski slopes, classic 70s wear, and college professors. “Hail the Wale!”


How To Thread

Superior Threads Sampler Pack

Sampler Pack from Superior Threads

On February 8, Bob Purcell, President of Superior Threads “and Self-Certified Threadologist,” taught Thread to a capacity audience assembled at the newly expanded and extremely sewer-friendly Fabrics Etc. 2 in Bensenville.

Read some of the tips that Liz C. learned at this seminar on the Sew Chicago blog.

Bob’s alter ego wife, Mother Superior, also writes a blog about all things thread. It’s great inspiration if you’ve ever wondered about using metallics or Texture Magic threads.

On my list of “how cool would that be to do?!” is to take Threadology‘s classes. Who can resist “Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob” and an “Open Thread Bar.”

If you missed the discussion at Fabrics Etc 2, here are a couple of videos from Superior Threads. Not quite the same as being there, though.

Cotton vs. Polyester Thread

Metallic Thread

Now you’ll be looking at that holiday gift exchange with a new eye when you open it and find metallic thread. 😉


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