Virtual Block Party Challenge with Brewer Sewing: Winners Announced!

December 1, 2020

Wow, has 2020 been a doozy! In the swirl of everything going on, it can be hard to imagine what good there is to come from a new year.

But! But. Goodness IS possible! We’ve seen that throughout this year from all of our members. Births, marriages, anniversaries – y’all have celebrated each other with gusto. Creative expression – it blossoms in your quilts and other crafty pursuits. Hope – we see it in the activism our members display in their quilts, masks, yard signs, and words on social media. 

Because we have each other, we have the potential for goodness in 2021. So we decided to look forward with a new, fun challenge, sponsored by our friends at Brewer Sewing.

As a consumer, you may not heard of Brewer, but you may be familiar with some of the notions they distribute; they’re a locally based company that supplies independent quilt shops all over the U.S. When they reached out to guild President Jenni Grover a few months ago about a partnership, we were thrilled about the chance to offer a fun challenge – and prizes! – to our members. Brewer believes in supporting local quilting organizations, and they recognize that as a guild, we contribute a lot to the larger quilting community. 

The nice folks at Brewer have worked with Jenni and Vice President Julia Bryant to develop a fun and HOPEFUL challenge for us to sneak in before the end of the year. We are so thankful for Brewer’s support!

Virtual Block Party

We’re throwing a Virtual Block Party! What better way to celebrate the coming year, and all of the beautiful things we’ve accomplished in 2020? 

To join in the fun, we asked members to create one quilt block that represents their hopes for 2021. It could be any size or shape; it could use any techniques they love. We encouraged members to let their creative expression flow. Their instructions: Show us, through your block, what 2021 might look like, literally or figuratively. Have fun with it!

Blocks were submitted with a deadline of November 15, 2020. Members could do anything with their blocks after submission; some have already turned them into mini quilts.

We asked our friends at Bloomington-Normal Modern Quilt Guild to be our jury. President Nancy Powell and Vice President Kathy Cook chose three winners to receive cash prizes of $250, $150 or $100. Thank you, friends!

Congratulations to our winners:

First Place: Amy Struckmeyer – Hope, 16″x16″ – $250 prize

From Amy: “This guild has been a steady rock for me and my wish for 2021 is for even more connection and lifting up among our amazing Chicago MQG community. Meeting in person again (and retreats!) would be an extra bonus!

And I wish for a turning point in our country for real, positive change, and not simply a return to the normalcy of the “before times.” I wish for the beginning of a movement to truly reexamine and overhaul the policies of our local and national institutions that foster inequality, discrimination, and racial-injustice. Black lives matter. I wish for an end to the systemic racism that exists in this country, to the hate, and to any attempt to place the value of one human life over another. Oh, and to make a true effort to combat climate change. In short, I truly hope we get through this crazy, uncertain time stronger and better and braver than before.

My block is inspired by the ethereal wet-on-wet watercolor paintings I made as a Waldorf school student years ago. It’s meant to depict a hint of daylight from inside a cave… or firelight in the dark. It’s about finding bits of light and lightness in the midst of anxiety and uncertainty, and the anticipation of lighter and more hope-filled days ahead.”

Second Place: Jen Beatty – Up We Go, 13.5″x13.5″ – $150 prize

From Jen: “We need to be positive and I believe going/looking up will accomplish this as we move forward.”

Third Place: Iris Johnson – Hope, 7.5″x7.5″ – $100 prize

From Iris: “Trees are my symbol of hope. Their lives are a forever cycle of growth, decline, dormancy and return. I am inspired by the way trees respond to the seasons and thrive.”

And a hearty thanks to everyone else who entered our challenge:

Lauren Krause – Reckoning, 12″x12″

From Lauren: “So many things to hope for, to make 2021 a better year. At the top of my list is a Truth and Reconciliation process in the USA to look honestly at our country’s history of racism. This includes genocide of the indigenous, and particularly, enslavement of Africans, and the various permutations of injustice over the years since. Participants in the process would take a clear eyed look at where we are now, with a reckoning of what still needs to change. There would be consideration of reparations, in whatever form they need to take. I am more hopeful that we will take steps towards this goal than I would have been, had the presidential election turned out differently. In some parts of this country it has already started.”

Adamandia Kapsalis – New Growth Against Climate Change, 11″x11″

Jenni Grover – It’s Rising!, 11″x11″

From Jenni: “I am hopeful that 2021 brings more peace for the world. In my block, the bottom half is 2020: dark, chaotic, a bit gloomy. But we voted, and there was a blue wave in many places, and we’re going to embrace science moving forward… and we spent lots of time outdoors and we started to smile more… I tried to show that in the bottom half.

The top half is like a sun rising, really serene and calm and peaceful. It’s an antidote to all the craziness. I hope that 2021 has more of that feeling – and I’m here to do the work to help make it happen!”Trish De

Preter – Bots on the Move, 8.25″x8.25″

From Trish: “My wish in 2021 is for more time to do the activities I love and the safety and reassurance to do them with those I love. My block reflects the buoy sailing I do in the summer on Lake Michigan. Their is a new system where Bots move the upwind buoys automatically as the course changes because of wind changes. The moving buoys can happen mid-race and are funny to see.”

Trish De Preter – The Feast, 9″x9″

From Trish: “This block reminded me of The Feast of the Annunciation that happens every March 25th to celebrate Mary’s news of her immaculate conception. I thought it looked like you were looking out of a dark window and into a bright Spring future. With the 2020 lock down in March Catholics were unable to celebrate the holiday. My wish is for us to be able to celebrate the little things, and big things, with those we love.”

Emily Lang – Home, 8.5″x10.5″


From Emily: “My hope is for a new home.”

Sarah C. Evans – Hexagons are the Bestagons (but it’s hip to be square too), 3 unit size: 12.5″x9″; multiple units size: 26″x18.5″

From Sarah: “”Hexagons are the Bestagons” is the title of a CPG Grey YouTube video we recently watched as a family. We also watched his director’s cut of the video and then when down the rabbit hole of Euclidean tilings finding SO MANY interesting geometric shapes. I was mesmerized and quickly wanted to test at least one out as a quilt pattern.

The pandemic not withstanding, my vision for our future is for us to continue exploring the ideas and things and as quilters, the shapes that excite us as well as push the boundaries of our skill sets. This is a prototype of the [; 3.426; 44] (t=3, e=4) 3-uniform tiling with 3 vertex found. Hopefully 2021 can be my personal shape journey.

Laura McDowell Hopper – Moonshadow, 9″x19″

From Laura: “This block, already turned into a simple mini quilt, is called “Moonshadow” and is inspired by the Yusuf / Cat Stevens song. His song is about finding joy in life, and especially in these times I can’t help but contrast that with Yusuf’s near-death experience with tuberculosis early in his career that left him hospitalized for several months, followed by a year of convalescence. Similar stories have been too common in 2020, adjusted for the coronavirus. Yusuf took his traumatic medical experiences and emerged, crafting some of the greatest songs we have about kindness and joy. His sickness was a phase, but for too many people today it’s an end.

I’ve thinking a lot about phases lately. These moon phases are inspired by my own personal phase of sleeplessness as a new parent, and how nature, even when it’s in crisis, has a way of telling us that things happen in phases. My hope for 2021 is that we move through the dark phase we are in now towards something brighter, even a little bit, that can bring us closer together.”

Lisa Hasenbalg – Bringing the Divide to Hope, 22″x23″

From Lisa: “We need to build and use any and all bridges. One of my favourites is along the 101 in California in big Sur near the Eselan. That’s what this block represents to me. Finding new sources of clean energy (see windmills), healthy oceans, less fires and happier forests, and lots of sunshine. Free motion quilting (till my bobbins kept snagging). No appliqué, all assembled using improv strips.”

All meetings are 2-5 pm on the third Sunday of the month, unless otherwise noted.
This month’s meeting is on Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 2pm CST

Meeting location:


A list of our meetings can be found here.

Not a member, but would like to be? Click the button above to join our Guild!

We hope to see you there!

Become a new Chicago Modern Quilt Guild member

Photo: Triangles quilt by Erika Mulvenna