Quiltcon East 2017 in Savannah: A Modern Quilting Conference

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending Quiltcon East 2017 in Savannah, Georgia, a quilt show hosted by The Modern Quilt Guild.  The show showcases a juried and judged selection of contemporary quilts and features a plethora of workshops and lectures by a roster of well known quilt artists and designers.  A sizable vendor area was included at the show, selling fabrics, notions, machines, and more.

Over 300 quilts were on display, and 5000-6000 attendees passed through during the duration of the show, which spanned 4 days, from February 23 to the 27th, 2017.

I did not have a quilt in the show this year, but went to get a look at the quilts, take classes, and to visit and chat with my friends in the quilt industry, and generally nerd out with my fellow quilt lovers.  Savannah was a great host city for the event; it’s full of great restaurants, galleries and lush, manicured green squares.

The Modern Quilt Guild puts on Quiltcon every year; next year (2018) the event will be in Pasadena, California, and the year after (2019) it will take over Nashville, Tennessee.

Find out more about the Modern Quilt Guild and the modern quilt movement here.

A few of the quilts that caught my eye this year are featured below:

by Tara Faughan


by Diana Vandeyar



By Silvia Sutters



There’s a MQG chapter here in the Chicago area, the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild.  They typically meet the 3rd Sunday of every month, from 2-5pm, at Rush Hospital in Oak Park.  Find out more about the CMQG on their blog.


-Tricia Royal


All The freaky People Make The Beauty of the World


So, if you’ve been busy making things for good causes – awesome!

But some days you feel a little angry and feisty-so here are a few ways to express those feelings in a productive way as a maker.

Wikipedia defines Craftivism as a form of activism, typically incorporating elements of anti-capitalism, environmentalism or third-wave feminism, that is centered on practices of craft – or what can traditionally be referred to as “domestic arts”. Craftivism includes, but is not limited to, various forms of needlework. Craftivism is a social process of collective empowerment, action, expression and negotiation. In craftivism, engaging in the social, performative and critical discourse around the work is central to its production and dissemination. [1] Practitioners are known as craftivists.

Let’s make our voice heard!


threads of resistance

The Artist Circle presents “Threads of Resistance,” a juried exhibition of work created to protest the Trump administration’s actions and policies.

They invite you to consider the theme “Threads of Resistance,” and create work – fiber art, art quilts, modern quilts or traditional quilts – to convey your passion, anger, or sadness about an issue that concerns you. Your work can be either positive (encouraging and unifying), or negative (portraying anger, sadness or discouragement).



Nasty Women Art Chicago


Nasty Women is a global art movement that serves to demonstrate solidarity among artists who identify with being a Nasty Woman in the face of threats to roll back women’s rights, individual rights, and abortion rights. With over forty fundraising art exhibitions taking place around the United States and abroad, Nasty Women Exhibitions also serve to support organizations defending these rights and to be a platform for organization and resistance.

In solidarity with sister shows around the globe, come together for Nasty Women Art Chicago: A one-night exhibition and fundraiser to hear and support the voices of artists identifying as Nasty Women.


March 5 Contribute.

Call for artwork begins March 5 for Illinois residents and March 19 for the general public. Spread the word…

May 5 Collect.

Moonlight Studios, 1446 W Kinzie 5:30-10:30pm. Acquire art. Experience the event. Get inspired. We are…





All proceeds from this pattern will be donated monthly to a rotating list of charities that work to make life better for ALL people, not just those in power. These will include Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock Legal Defense Funds, Days for Girls, Environmental Defense Fund, Trans Youth Equality Foundation, Engender Health, Flint Kids, and more.



you are so very beautiful

All it takes are three tiny things:

  • Make a sign (no bigger than palm size, please) that contains an affirmation starting with “You are” on it. Although all types of handmade signs are welcome, for the museum show, we need stitched signs. If you’d like to make other types of signs, we can use them in Atlanta!
  • Tag: It’s up to you if you tag it with your @social_media_handle, but please tag it the back of the sign with #yasvb.
  • Send the sign(s) to the following address:

Betsy Greer

P.O. Box 51816

Durham NC 27717

Want to do a drop in your town? Find out how I can help or how you can do it DIY style here!

For more information about the idea behind the You Are So Very Beautiful project, click here.



craftivist-collective mini-banner


Fly solidarity’s flag for those suffering as a result of the world’s injustices. Craft your own banner, turn heads and influence change.

Imagine walking down the street and spotting a colourful cross-stitched banner out of the corner of your eye. You stop to look more closely and discover a startling fact about human rights abuses, or perhaps an encouraging quote urging you to be the change you want to see in the world



Shop Talks at Lillstreet.

Lillstreet’s new event series: Shop Talk. This is a project spearheaded by our very own Nora Renick-Rinehart, Kimberly Pancoast (the Digital Department Director) and Kate Bek (Head of Promotions for Lill) that is the manifestation of our frustration with the current political climate. It’s our way of staying motivated, engaging our communities and raising money for local organizations. The ceramics department is kicked off the series with a workshop this Friday night.

Pussyhat Virtual Global March!

Let’s join together in support and solidarity for women’s rights! Whether you are marching, striking or wish you could, you can participate in Pussyhat Global Virtual March. This is opportunity to share with feminists around the world what you care about, and to witness others around the world and better understand their concerns. Share information about local issues or global ones. The more we see and know, the more we can support each other!

Join Pussyhat Virtual Global March!

1. Wear! Put on your #pussyhat on March 8 wherever you are,

2. Declare! Make a sign about where you are from and a women’s rights issue that is important to you

3. Share! Take a picture of you wearing your pussyhat and holding your sign and post to social media using #pussyhatglobal (preferred), or email it to us at global@pussyhatproject.com.

You can follow the march on social media or our homepage: www.pussyhatproject.com

Get Together at a Pussyhat Gathering!

We encourage you to find or form your own Pussyhat Gathering before, on, or after March 8.

Pussyhat Gatherings are an opportunity for people to come together and make pussyhats – symbols of solidarity and support for women’s rights. By getting together, making and giving pussyhats, participants are creating community and helping create a strong powerful statement.

Pussyhat Gatherings can be traditional knitting circles, or knit-ins as parts of protests, marches, boycotts, demonstrations, rallies, or strikes. If you are interested in forming a group, contact your Local Yarn Store to see if they can host a space or meet up at a designated time somewhere else. Your event could be a gathering at a park, library, city hall, place of worship, town hall meeting, rally, coffee shop, bar, yarn store, waiting room, hockey rink, mountain top, or anywhere else you can assemble.

If you want to share information about your gathering, you can post here: https://www.pussyhatproject.com/gatherings/. By posting on our website, you are creating a way for more people near and far to find out about your event and potentially join you.  Anyone hosting — individuals, groups, and local ally yarn stores — is welcome to post! In case you are concerned, you can limit the number of people who can RSVP to an event.

Safety note: As with anything on the internet, always be careful. Choose to host or go to events in a public place or a place you trust. Bring a friend! Charge your phone! If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Our GATHERINGS page is a place where hosts can list their own events- we have not vetted them. We also understand that different cultures have different safety issues- we know that some groups may not be able to publicly list their events.


We would love to know more about you. Please share with us links to articles (especially local ones), photos of you in your pussyhat, artwork you have created, original uses of pussyhats, yarn bombings, etc. It is thrilling to see all of your creativity, passion, and humor.

Would you like to help us prepare for our march on social media? We are looking for drawings/collages/etc. in square format of you, in a pussyhat, holding a sign in your native language, and declaring where you are from and what you are for. The image can be as simple or complicated as you would like. Please email it to us at global@pussyhatproject.com



Time for a little #craftivism. Because sometimes all you want to do is stab something, I present the #DoNotTrumpStitch hand embroidery patternstickers and magnets!

Purchase your #DoNotTrumpStitch items here on etsy.

100% of the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood! Shipping is on me!

If you stitch up the pattern, please share and tag it with #DoNotTrumpStitch


So many ways we can stay active, engaged and making!

It felt like so much progress was being made and in our complacency, we forgot that we need to fight.

We need to fight for beauty and diversity and the freedom to be who we are.

We cannot take it for granted

Just by being who we are-by making our own clothes, quilts, art…We help create models for a diverse world.

Fight for it everyday by being your freaky self…

Knit, meditate, love, dye your hair purple or your fabric, hold hands with the one you love, be free. Be who you and be proud.

We are all still here and together we will change this world.

Hold tight to your values and the ones you love.

Talk to people you don’t know, who are different from you.

Get out in those streets and protest, but also do it in your simple actions.

Be who you are and help to build this great big beautiful and freaky world!

-Rachael Russ, Monitor.

Printed Patchwork

As a longtime Lillstreet Textiles student/monitor/teacher, I always get the most excited when I’m combining printing/dyeing with sewing.  It feels great to use both sides of the department!  Thus, I’ve been experimenting with silkscreening dye onto patchwork.  This actually started a few years back, when I was still relatively new to silkscreening on fabric.  In the first classes I took, I printed clip art images onto lots of small pieces of quilting fabric.  It was great printing practice, but I also figured the images would look cool in a patchwork quilt someday.  It was a short jump of logic then to try printing images directly onto a patchwork background:

I really liked the result, but the idea was left to simmer on a back burner in my brain for a while.  Then about a year ago, I decided to revisit the concept, but with a twist.  Over the years I’d collected quite a few “white on white” fabrics with a white print on a white (or natural/off-white) background.  I knew that vat dyeing those kind of prints gave a cool effect where the white print resists the dye, resulting in a white (or tinted) print on a colored background.  To add visual interest, I combined some “white on white” prints with some other prints that had white or pale backgrounds.  Then I made some simple 16-patch blocks and then printed some diamonds on top with thickened dye:

I also made some blocks with half-square triangles, using white-on-white and black-and-white prints to create a diamond shape in the patchwork, and then printed that same diamond shape all over it in a few different shades of dye.

dye-printed diamonds on black-and-white patchwork

I’ve since made a few small quilts with these blocks, trying different combinations of colors and quilting stitches to see what I like best.  I’m not usually this scientific in my approach, but quilting has always been a sort of game for me where I set up some (usually pretty arbitrary) rules for a project and then see what I can do within that framework.  So it has been really interesting to see how many variations I can produce on this theme.

Much more recenlty, I started a third branch of the experiment.  Instead of basing my patchwork on a grid, and printing a shape that interacts with it, I’m printing big circles onto improvisational piecing.  I’m really excited about how it’s turning out so far.  These white-on-white and light-background fabrics are known in the quilt world as “low volume” fabrics, and there’s a good cheesy pun here about how I’m “turning up the volume” by splashing dye all over them.

dye-printed circles on improvisational patchwork

I’m sure there will be more to come soon – please stay tuned 🙂

-Jordana Robinson, Instructor

Inspiring Independents

We’re moving into the second half of winter term here in the Textile department at Lillstreet, which means that round two of class sessions begin today.  Are you feeling antsy after a grey filled January, ready to get out of the house and stretch your creative wings?   The Independent Projects course is just the place for you to get that work started you’ve been noodling  and doodling around with for the past few months, or to finish the piece that’s found a semi-permanent spot sitting on the chair looking beseechingly at you to bring it all together and make it complete.

I’ll tempt you with a smattering of inspiring work from students who come to play.

If you’ve got the basics down and have experience here in the textile print studio working with either inks or dyes, come join us beginning Thursday 2/16 from 10-1 for the 5 week session!

Winter Session II: Class and Open Studio Schedule

Lillstreet’s Winter Session II starts tomorrow!

**Please note that this schedule is still subject to change. We will do our best to make sure that correct information is posted at all time and apologize in advance for any lapses.

See you all in the studio!


Follow us on instagram! @textilesatlillstreet


Making Good

After knitting and sewing all those pussy hats and experiencing the positive collective energy of the Women’s March, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Yes, I can write postcards and make calls, but I’m a maker. I need to do something with my hands. So I need to keep knitting and sewing. It is calming, meditative and helps me deal with the anxiety of these uncertain times. It can be subversive, revolutionary, and political. I’ve been thinking a lot about making and how it is ultimately a hopeful act. You are making something from nothing. It can express our anger or embody our love. Making is powerful!

We can reach out to our community through charity projects and support others across the globe by using our craft as a form of activism and expression.

Here are a few ideas of organizations that help get our handmade items to people in need and spread some love:

Binky Patrol Binky Patrol

Donates handmade blankets to children with illnesses, those in foster care, and other kids experiencing trauma. The binky blanket can be anywhere from three square feet to the size of a twin bed, and the website has a few free patterns to choose from as well

Care Wear Care Wear donates handmade baby items like hats, booties, blankets, mittens, and IV covers to hospitals in the US, Canada, and Italy. You can search for a hospital that’s close to you and see its wish list of items, either just sending the items you make to the hospital or calling the representative listed to discuss the projects further. There are tons of patterns on the website, which emphasizes goods for preemie babies.

Warm Up America Warm Up America donates handmade afghan blankets to people in need. It’s often homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and natural disaster relief organizations like the Red Cross that distribute these warm blankets to those in need. Children’s hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices also receive donations. WUA asks people to simply crochet and send in 7×9-inch sections, but it especially encourages people to work with family and friends to join the sections together and make a big blanket

Pink Slipper Project, Pink Slipper Project despite the name, accepts women and children’s slippers of all different colors. The slippers are donated to women and children in shelters across the country, in hopes of giving something lovely, warm, and handmade to those in tough times.

Hat Box Foundation Hat Box Foundation donates handmade hats to cancer patients across the country. Hat Box wants each and every hat to be unique and made from the heart, and it encourages hats of all different styles, colors, and sizes for women, men, and children. Hat Box partners with hospitals nationwide.

Project Linus Project Linus donates handmade blankets to sick children across the United States. Hospitals, shelters, and social service agencies all receive these donations, and you can search the website for a drop-off location nearest you. Project Linus simply asks that blankets be new, handmade, and washable.

 Afghans for Afghans Afghans for Afghans sends handmade hats, blankets, vests, and other goods to the people of Afghanistan. The campaign changes and focuses on different projects throughout the year (right now it’s hats, mittens, and knitted wool socks), and there is an info page that provides helpful cultural tips on what to include and not include in projects.


So many things to make! Hope these ideas bring you some inspiration.

Look for activism ideas in my next post….

Rachael Russ

Independent Sewing Projects: Just Added for Winter Session II!

Hi all! We’ve just added a five week Independent Sewing Projects class to the Winter Session II schedule which starts next week:

You’ve got the sewing basics down; take the next step to complete one-of-a-kind sewing projects. You will discuss serger instruction, sewing machine feet attachments, buttonhole stitches and additional topics as they relate to individual student projects. Material fee covers thread and notion use in class and open studio. Prerequisite: First-Time Sewing. Open to students 14 years and up.

Register now!


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