Carole Lyles Shaw, Modern Quilt Innovator

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:38:23 Carole Lyles Shaw, Modern Quilt Innovator


Join the Black Women Stitch Patreon

Black Women Stitch 2023 Wall Calendar

Amazon Store

Sew Black Info

Thanks to our Sew Black underwriters: Spoonflower (SEWBLACKQC for 20%off) and Moda. Additional support: BerninaMaterial support provided by Accuquilt, , Aurifil, Crimson Tate (SEWBLACKQC for 10% off),  My Notions,  Ruby Star Society,  Spoonflower

Road to QuiltCon: Trains, Planes, and Automobiles is sponsored by Bernina with material support from Amtrak and SewEzi,

Carole Lyles Shaw

Carole’s passion is to inspire quilters to explore the fun and creative freedom of making modern quilts. She taught herself to quilt when she decided to make quilts for her wonderful nieces and nephews.  Then, she found her first quilting home with the African American Quilters of Baltimore, who gently taught her the best techniques to express her quilt vision. She is excited about modern quilting because it brings individualism and free expression to the quilts we are making today.

She teaches workshops to help quilters confidently and joyfully dive into modern quilting. Her students say that her workshops inspire them to let their creative voices shine.

Lisa Woolfork

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English, specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory, and American slavery. She is the founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.

Insights from this episode:

  • What makes a modern quilt
  • Insights into quilting
  • Emerging trends in quilting
  • How modern quilt borrows from traditions
  • Relationship between quilting and music
  • The importance of respecting traditions
  • What Carol is looking forward to in 2023
  • Details about QuiltCon

Quotes from the show:

  • “People used to phrase community over competition all the time, but sometimes, people be lying” —Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “Modern quilting: First of all, it does have one foot in the traditional quilting world; it’s not that we hate traditional quilts, far from it. We honor that tradition, we learn from it, and then we expand it and build on it” —Carole Lyles Shaw in “Stitch Please”
  • “Modern quilting is an emerging genre. It’s always changing and being re-invented” —Carole Lyles Shaw in “Stitch Please”
  • “Improvisational design and actual quilting is only one design principle. Not all modern quilts are improvised; some of them are very much pattern-based and block-based” —Carole Lyles Shaw in “Stitch Please”
  • “It (modern quilting) really is about invention, re-invention and combining and re-combining and borrowing from artistic, as well as folk art tradition from literally all around the world” —Carole Lyles Shaw in “Stitch Please”
  • “If you are gonna learn from and borrow from a tradition, understand that tradition first, before you explore it further” —Carole Lyles Shaw in “Stitch Please”
  • “The best teachers are not trying to create acolytes in their own image; the best teachers want to bring out the best students can do” —Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “Pay close attention to the parts of quilt making that bring you joy and energy (…) go where your joy takes you” —Carole Lyles Shaw in “Stitch Please”

Resources Mentioned:

Modern Quilt Guild


Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Carole Lyles Shaw

Website: Carole Lyles Shaw

Facebook: Carole Lyles Shaw Quilts

This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.

Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork 0:00

Hey, friends, hey. We are on the road to QuiltCon. QuiltCon is the Modern Quilt Guild's annual conference, and this year it's being held in Atlanta, and Black Women Stitch is going. We will be there hosting an affinity space called Sew Black. But we got to get there first. And that is what The Road to QuiltCon: Trains, Planes, and Automobiles is all about. How are you getting to QuiltCon? Are you flying? Are you driving? Or are you taking the train? Black Women Stitch is taking the train, courtesy of our friends at Amtrak and with generous support from Bernina. We're taking an overnight sleeper car on the Amtrak to Atlanta, and we're bringing our sewing machines on board for the ride. Tell us how you're getting to QuiltCon. Go to Black Women Stitch dot org. In the upper right corner, you'll see a button that says "talk to us." You tap that button and you can leave a voice note letting us know how you are getting to QuiltCon. And we might even use it in the podcast or on our social media. So stay tuned for The Road to QuiltCon, courtesy of Bernina and our friends at Amtrak.

Hello, stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast with more than twenty years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. As I say every week, this is a very special episode because this episode we are talking with none other than Carole Lyles Shaw. Carol has been on the podcast before, back in twenty twenty. Okay, episode fifty-one of the Stitch Please podcast was called "Modern Quilting with Carole Lyles Shaw. And today we are back with Carole Lyles Shaw, modern quilt innovator, because she is innovating and has innovated so much in the last years—plural—where we spoke with her. Carole, welcome to the program and thank you again for joining us.

Carole Lyles Shaw 2:40

Thank you, Lisa, I'm honored to be here. And I think it's wonderful the space you're creating out there in the quilt-iverse.

Lisa Woolfork 2:48

I am so grateful to you for being so welcoming. People use the phrase "community over competition" all the time, but sometimes people be lying. And they really do compete with you. And that is not what I have found with Carole and with another co-collaborator, another Lisa, Lisa Shepard Stewart, who we will definitely be talking about a little bit later. But, Carole, thank you for being here. And I wanted you to kind of start a bit since right now we are at I think over a hundred and sixty episodes. So about a hundred episodes have transpired since you talk to us about modern quilting. And there are some folks—I'm getting new listeners all the time—and some of them don't know the difference between a modern quilt and a traditional quilt. I have been working on everybody to get them not to call a quilt a blanket. I don't want anybody to get cut in these streets. I don't want anybody to, you know, bring danger to themselves and family by calling a quilt a blanket or a comforter. So I think everybody understands that part. But could you just talk a little bit about what makes a modern quilt modern?

Carole Lyles Shaw 3:53

I would love to! And hello out there, everybody. I want to first start off by saying that modern quilting as a movement, as a genre that had a more formal identity, if you will, is only about fifteen years old or so, something like that. The Modern Quilt Guild, which was formally started by just, I think, two people who started a local guild. They thought it would be small, and then everybody around the country and in Canada et cetera said...

Lisa Woolfork 4:24

Sixteen thousand? Sixteen thousand members in the MQG now.

Carole Lyles Shaw 4:29


Lisa Woolfork 4:29

Sixteen thousand.

Carole Lyles Shaw 4:31

But we're just celebrating our tenth year as a formal organization, so...

Lisa Woolfork 4:35


Carole Lyles Shaw 4:36

However, modern quilting, first of all, it does have one foot in the traditional quilting world. It's not that we hate traditional quilts or...far from it. We honor that tradition, we learn from that tradition, and then we expand it, and build on it, and reinvent it, and shift it up.

Lisa Woolfork 4:54

Yes, yes, yes.

Carole Lyles Shaw 4:56

For instance at QuiltCon, which is the MQG annual international conference, we have a category in our show called Modern Traditionalism.

Lisa Woolfork 5:08


Carole Lyles Shaw 5:08

And we have a category called Handwork. So there's a little bit of a crossover. But what makes a quilt modern? There are several design principles. And in late twenty twenty-two, the MQG started an initiative in the membership community getting input on the definition on the principles as they appear in twenty twenty-two on the website. So they were being massaged even as we're recording this.

Lisa Woolfork 5:41


Carole Lyles Shaw 5:42

Sometime in the spring of twenty twenty-three, the membership will get briefed on what changes, if any, they're going to be to that broad definition. Modern quilting is an emerging genre. It is always changing and always being reinvented. So when I hear people say, "Is my quilt modern?" as if it's a yes-or-no question, I immediately go, "Time out. Not yes or no. This is a continuum. This is a seventeen-ring circus. And there are more rings being added every day." So the question is: Which modern quilt design principles am I as a quilter using? So things like negative space, which would be broad areas of the quilt that are unpieced and in the recent past would be one fabric, one color. But most recently, I would say in twenty twenty-two, I saw this emerging— modern quilters are now piecing the negative space using shades or tints or tones. Or multiple, what we call low volume or very subtle prints. So the whole notion of negative space, it isn't a blank space.

Lisa Woolfork 6:57

That's right, that's right.

Carole Lyles Shaw 6:58

It's an active part of the design. But it's also about color palettes, you know, the colors that we use. Back in the day, I would not be able to find bold prints, bold solids, and like bright hues of magenta, deep-rich blues, and cobalts, and whatever. Couldn't find those in the quilt shop.

Lisa Woolfork 7:19


Carole Lyles Shaw 7:20

Until really about twelve years ago, you started seeing them slowly coming in. But we would find those more modern fabrics in the apparel fabric.

Lisa Woolfork 7:31

Ohh, you would come over to the sewing. It's like, oh, I'm making a dress. Well, I'm making a modern quilt.

Carole Lyles Shaw 7:37

I'm making a quilt.

Lisa Woolfork 7:38

Watch me.

Carole Lyles Shaw 7:39

And so...and the salespeople would look a little confused and say, "Well, why aren't you...?" No, no, I wanna be over here, but I need one hundred percent cotton.

Lisa Woolfork 7:46


Carole Lyles Shaw 7:47

No polyester. And I don't use linen, although there are some quilters who do use linens and other kinds of weaves like that. But we'd have to be very creative about where we would find our fabrics. And, of course, some of us were using Ankara or African prints, shweshwe, indigos...

Lisa Woolfork 8:05


Carole Lyles Shaw 8:06

You know, those kinds of fabrics. And some of us were also using Japanese prints. So we were searching around the world literally for different kinds of fabrics that we would combine in unique ways. We would reinvent the design of blocks. We would change up a traditional block like a nine patch, and we'd do all kinds of crazy stuff to it to make a new block. Negative space, minimalism. We moved away from very complex tiny piecing and fussy little fabrics to calmer, bigger spaces, open spaces. But an emerging trend now that started in like twenty twenty-one is called maximalism

Lisa Woolfork 8:49

Oh my.

Carole Lyles Shaw 8:50

And those of you who've studied any art, you know what maximalism is. There are some of us, like me and some others, who will like very rich, saturated colors and surfaces, but they're not fussy. But they do like saturated. So maximalism...I mean, there twelve, or whatever, different principles, and you can find that definition on the website of the Modern Quilt Guild dot com. But it's a jumping-off point. It's not a set of rules by any stretch of the imagination.

Lisa Woolfork 9:20

I love this. Thank you for such a beautiful and rich definition. And if you are a Patreon subscriber—and honestly, why are you not? Hashtag totes worth it.

Carole Lyles Shaw 9:29


Lisa Woolfork 9:29

You get to see Carole in front of one of her quilts. And you were talking about colors and looking for deep, rich colors. Two things struck to my mind. The first one was y'all didn't want no ashy fabric.

Carole Lyles Shaw 9:41

No, no.

Lisa Woolfork 9:42

Nobody wants ashy fabric.

Carole Lyles Shaw 9:43

No, no greyed-out fabric.

Lisa Woolfork 9:45

No ashy. No, no, we don't want the tinted rose lavender. Give us purple.

Carole Lyles Shaw 9:50


Lisa Woolfork 9:51

Give us red. And if you look at the piece that Carole is in front of, you can see how rich and deep the blacks are, like the blacks, the day depth of that. And the idea that negative space doesn't mean an absence. It's like a holding space, a holding pattern. It could do so much. And I'm seeing that in the piece that you have that you shared with us today. Another thing I was thinking of was a question about metaphor. What you described sounds like two things at once. First, it sounds like the improvisation that characterizes jazz. One of the reasons that jazz kind of began was it's through the breaking of things. It's through making something new, creating totally new sounds, or someone like Thelonius Monk, for example, who would deliberately play quote unquote, wrong notes all the time to kind of test sonality and be a genius, right? It also reminds me of the evolution of hip-hop. Similarly, the idea of taking something that already exists or something that might have been not designed for the purpose but recalibrating it.

Black Women Stitch and the Stitch Please podcast are happy to announce Sew Black, an affinity space, creative oasis, and live podcasting studio at the Modern Quilt Guild QuiltCon in Atlanta, Georgia, February twenty-third to twenty-sixth. Sew Black is made possible by major underwriting from Spoonflower. With over one million designs available on fabric, wallpaper, and home decor, every purchase supports a global community of independent artists. The Spoonflower community includes artists, makers, small business owners, interior designers, and you. Begin your next project with one of Spoonflower independent designers or upload your own. Go to Spoonflower dot com, and use the code Sew Black QC for twenty percent off your purchase. That's S-E-W B-L-A-C-K Q-C. We are thankful for the underwriting provided by Moda as well as the support of Bernina. If you'd like more information or to contribute to Sew Black, you can find the links to what you need in the show notes.

Do you find the music metaphors to be useful? And if you had to choose one—I'm going to ask you to choose one—would you choose jazz or would you choose hip-hop? Or are there quilters out there that do both, that some you look at like oh yeah, they're improvisation is hip-hop and my improvisation is jazz? I don't know. How would you answer that question?

Carole Lyles Shaw 12:31

I don't think we need to choose, because both hip-hop and jazz and even blues...

Lisa Woolfork 12:40

Say it.

Carole Lyles Shaw 12:41

You know?

Lisa Woolfork 12:42


Carole Lyles Shaw 12:42

Started with a story song, and then the next person would reinterpret that, and the next would reinterpret that. Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Lisa Woolfork 12:50

Oh, yeah, tell it. That's right.

Carole Lyles Shaw 12:51

Took gospel and those African rhythms that were still in our culture.


And turned it into—listen up, people—rock 'n' roll.

Lisa Woolfork 13:00

And roll. That's right.

Carole Lyles Shaw 13:02

She was the innovator of rock 'n' roll.

Lisa Woolfork 13:04

She was. She absolutely was.

Carole Lyles Shaw 13:07

Strummed that guitar in ways that nobody had done before. So go look her up.

Lisa Woolfork 13:11

We will put a note. I know who she is.

Carole Lyles Shaw 13:13


Lisa Woolfork 13:14

And I know who stole from her. Yeah, the one who became the most famous for stealing. But we will put all those notes, y'all, we're gonna put them in the show notes so that y'all can do a little bit of homework on your own.

Carole Lyles Shaw 13:25

But to answer your question: I would say we don't have to choose either one. Depends on..well, if you're going to go maximalist, then maybe you're more of a hip-hop type quilter. If you're a little bit leaning back into tradition a little bit, but then you're riffin' on it, maybe you're jazz.

Lisa Woolfork 13:41

Jazz, yeah.

Carole Lyles Shaw 13:42

And then there's four different forms of jazz and we can go either. But I do want to mention that improvisational design and actual quilting lines is only one design principle. Not all modern quilts are improvised. Some of them are very much pattern based and block based. So we go a lot of different places in modern quilting.

Lisa Woolfork 14:06

What I love about what you have said is that it sounds like a warm invitation. It sounds like opening something, not shutting it down.

Carole Lyles Shaw 14:17


Lisa Woolfork 14:17

It's not like oh, you have to know the secret code word or you have to say this word just the right way. Or the idea that somehow modern is something your quilt gets to be if you do all the rules right. And none of that is the case. And it feels like what you're describing is this really powerful creative process that has lots of different points of entry.

Carole Lyles Shaw 14:40

Yes. And I see sometimes on social media posts where people are acting as if there's an argument between them and the Modern Quilt Guild about whether their quilt is modern. And I have to say, folks, if that's the space you find yourself in, you're kind of making up that story. Because the Modern Quilt Guild is a very person, voice to say—and I used to be on the board, full disclosure—but they would be the first to say no, no, no, no, no. We're just trying to give each other some common language to describe what we're innovating with.

Lisa Woolfork 15:13


Carole Lyles Shaw 15:13

And where we're seeing it and how we want to question and challenge each other and ourselves in the whole genre. It really is about invention and reinvention, and combining and recombining, and borrowing from artistic as well as folk art traditions from literally around the world.

Lisa Woolfork 15:34


Carole Lyles Shaw 15:35

This is an international movement.

Lisa Woolfork 15:37

Yes, indeed.

Carole Lyles Shaw 15:38

It does not belong to folks in the USA. It does not belong to USA, Canada. It belongs to people who wanna work with textiles around the world. So there's fusion going on and learning and of course, I have to say this, respect for the traditions. If you're going to learn from and borrow from a tradition, understand that tradition first...

Lisa Woolfork 16:02

Yes, yes.

Carole Lyles Shaw 16:04

...before you explore it further.

Lisa Woolfork 16:06

I think it's so beautifully put. And it makes me wonder if there are folks who are turning to definitions as validation rather than inspiration.

Carole Lyles Shaw 16:17

I love that. Perfectly said. I get a lot of quilters who come to my classes, who have primarily worked with traditional processes or approaches. And they come to me because they knit, see, and hear that my path for them into the world of modern is open, and I provide some guidance. And then I encourage them to go way beyond whatever you hear Carole say. Because I said, "Carole kind of knows what she's talking about. And you are going to have a new idea. And I can't wait to hear what it is."

Lisa Woolfork 16:52

Yes, yes. I think that's what some of the best teachers do. The best teachers are not trying to create acolytes and disciples in their own image. The best teachers want to bring out the best that the student can do. I want you to create the best thing you can create, not what I would create, but what you as a student and a thinker and an artist would create. I'm trying to help you be your best self. And of course, I certainly hope it looks different than me, you know? And I think that you've helped hundreds and hundreds of people do that. Talk about some of the classes you're most excited about for twenty twenty-three?

Carole Lyles Shaw 17:31

Well, I'm starting a new approach, a new series called Small Group Intensives. And there will be between twelve and fifteen people in each cohort. And each intensive will have a different content for this, but the format will be pretty much the same. There will be short live sessions, and then space in between, usually a week to two weeks in between each live session, where people go off and take the ideas that we've generated from my prompts and also our community discussion. And they're making stuff. They're not following my pattern. They're not making Carole's version of whatever, or their version of Carole's whatever. They're making their own version based on the prompts and challenges and the discussions. So they're small groups. So there's a lot of small-group coaching. And I also will be giving a one on one coaching session and most of the intensives. So I'm super excited about those, and those are launching in twenty twenty-three. The other thing that I'm launching in twenty twenty-three, or actually started in twenty twenty-two, is a new interactive lecture. Because I give lectures on what is a modern quilt and so forth.

Lisa Woolfork 18:43

Yes, yes.

Carole Lyles Shaw 18:44

And what is improv. However, my newest lecture for guilds, primarily giving it at QuiltCon as well in twenty twenty-three. If you haven't had attended QuiltCon, then...

Lisa Woolfork 18:55

We will definitely talk about QuiltCon, because I'm pretty sure I've signed up for your lecture.

Carole Lyles Shaw 18:59

But it's about sustainability. Most quilters are intrigued by quilters who repurpose, recycle fabric and clothing going to, you know, thrift shops and so forth. And we definitely applaud that. But the truth is, most quilters are buying new fabric. My lecture is about how to be more sustainable, be more eco conscious in your acquiring and then use of quilting. It is anti-hoarding,

Lisa Woolfork 19:32


Carole Lyles Shaw 19:32

We are not textile curators. We are hoarders. Harsh truth. Now how do I manage that in myself? How do I manage that behavior and continue to get the joy out of buying new fabric when I need it, but using it. How do I make sure I use it? So I've got tips and (unclear, crosstalk). Hopefully people walk away with, you know, four or five really practical actions to take, not a huge strategic plan because nobody is going to do that. You're gonna do two things, maybe three.

Lisa Woolfork 19:32

I'm gonna remember one thing, to be honest. So you might need to streamline that for me. So I'm certainly gonna remember one thing.

Carole Lyles Shaw 20:09

Yeah. So that's my new latest lecture and started giving it in twenty twenty-two. The guild that booked me to do that really found great value in it. And I'm seeing more guilds every day booking now into twenty twenty-four.

Lisa Woolfork 20:25

Oh, I love it. I love it. This is great, because I definitely felt absolutely attacked when you said that we're hoarders. I still reject that definition for myself because I actually do have a curatorial process. I've got swatch cards, I've got a collection, I've got a library card, a vintage library card holder from like the nineteen thirties that a librarian gave me as a gift. I am using all of this to build my self-esteem and my definition of myself as a curator, not hoarder. However, comma, the rest of y'all is absolutely hoarders and need to get your stuff together and do better. Everyone but me and Carole, or maybe just me?

Carole Lyles Shaw 21:04

No, I've seen your process, and you absolutely do have a curatorial approach. I'm reflecting really, to be honest with you, on my personal life story, my life story. I was a hoarder.

Lisa Woolfork 21:17

I remember your destash sales from Instagram, and I was like, Oh, she's getting rid of that? Maybe I can embrace that with my curatorial process.

Carole Lyles Shaw 21:27

Now it's all about am I using it? First of all, can I find it?

Lisa Woolfork 21:30


Carole Lyles Shaw 21:31

And that's where your curatorial process (unclear).

Lisa Woolfork 21:33

Yeah, it does help.

Carole Lyles Shaw 21:35

But most of the people who run through my life will tell me about the third time they bought the same fabric, because they couldn't find it. They didn't know where it was. But they had it, and it was just too overwhelming to go look for it. So that's where we start—how to get to know your stash. Some tips were simple organizational processes. And then, when you acquire, you're acquiring consciously.

Lisa Woolfork 21:59

Yes, yes, absolutely. I am so excited. I'm excited for this lecture. I'm excited to learn more about this process, because we really do never stop learning, and it is absolutely not the case that I have not lost something in here. I have like a five hundred pieces of swatches that index to five hundred pieces of fabric, and I can tell you for sure that some have slipped between the cracks and have entered the same place every other sock goes when I put it in the dryer. I think they're all hanging out together my solo socks and a few loose fat quarters are just having a great time. Speaking of great time, I want to talk about QuiltCon. This is Black Women Stitch's first time going to QuiltCon. We're going to be there as an organization. We're hosting at affinity space. You have been to QuiltCon probably many times, especially as a board member. And I'd love to hear, if you can share, of course no confidential dealings, if someone wanted to participate or join the Modern Quilt Guild, what do you see is the best way to go about it. I'm asking about this because earlier when I said that there were folks who look for validation in organizations like this rather than the opportunity or the inspiration they might provide. Like, a sixteen thousand–member organization is a big, big deal. It's a big group. They clearly have principles or whatever that they're working through. They have representation around the world from their membership, and you represented—was at the southeast division? Where did you represent?

Carole Lyles Shaw 23:24

Yeah, it was through the East Coast of the U.S.

Lisa Woolfork 23:27

Do you notice regional differences? Is there a reason that they need to have so many different representatives? Is there something that the Southeast wants that the Northeast doesn't?

Carole Lyles Shaw 23:38

Not really. Mainly the world was cut up into segments so that the board member could be in a similar time zone as the members he or she represented...

Lisa Woolfork 23:51

That's smart.

Carole Lyles Shaw 23:51

...and could do live Zooms or whatever StreamYards, whatever, live conversations, and perhaps it would be easier than if I was representing people from Bolivia to, you know, the UK.

Lisa Woolfork 24:04

That's a five-hour time diff—yes, yes.

Carole Lyles Shaw 24:07

So that's really what it boils down to. There are certainly very high-level broad differences, country to country, and sometimes within a country, depending on geography and cultures, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, just as you would find in any, you know, form of expression. But the geography was for convenience. The value, I think, of joining MQG is that you can access a community more easily. Now. There are very vibrant Facebook Groups and mighty networks and whatever in social media land...

Lisa Woolfork 24:42


Carole Lyles Shaw 24:42

...of people who are not affiliated or some may be affiliated with MQG as members. They're just independent groups that you can start, anybody can start. I joined as an independent member when I moved to Florida eleven years ago now, I guess, ten years ago. In the city that I'm in, Sarasota, there were no Modern Quilt Guilds. There were other types of guilds. And there were lots of people who were, I found out, interested in modern quilting. So I hooked up with one other independent member through MQG. They connected us up because she lived about forty-five minutes away from me. And we decided to start a chapter because we wanted to form a little community and have some people to hang out with in real life. It wasn't as easy to do it online as it is now, of course, when we started our guild. And through that in-person community, we all started learning together, sharing ideas, inviting a teacher in to lecture or teach and et cetera. And so that, I think, is the values is that it makes finding community a bit easier. But everybody's different. Not everybody wants to join a group,

Lisa Woolfork 25:52


Carole Lyles Shaw 25:52

People want to do it through a social media, like Facebook Group, and there's some really vibrant Modern Quilt Guild, not Modern Quilt Guilds, but modern quilting groups...

Lisa Woolfork 26:03


Carole Lyles Shaw 26:03

...on Facebook, and you just hop around and find the one that fits you.

Lisa Woolfork 26:07

That works for you.

Carole Lyles Shaw 26:08

Or, I tell people all the time, start one.

Lisa Woolfork 26:11


Carole Lyles Shaw 26:12

My friend and I started one. We said, "Oh, it'll probably be four or five people. We'll meet in each other's living rooms. We'll go to your house, my house..."

Lisa Woolfork 26:19

And how many members do you have now, ten years later after the guild you founded?

Carole Lyles Shaw 26:23

But by the third meeting we had to move to the local library because neither one of us had in our living room was big enough.

Lisa Woolfork 26:29


Carole Lyles Shaw 26:30

So we moved to the library. We formalized our organization, which didn't take very much doing, to become a formal guild. We then spawned, birthed a sister guild. There two Modern Quilt Guilds in Sarasota, Florida.

Lisa Woolfork 26:44

Oh, I love it.

Carole Lyles Shaw 26:45

Sister guilds. We don't have a lot of overlapping membership—a little bit. But we do joint activities together.

Lisa Woolfork 26:51

Oh, my gosh, that is so amazing.

Carole Lyles Shaw 26:54

Wonderful. So between us we have oh, I guess about a hundred and twenty-five people total, something like that.

Lisa Woolfork 26:59

That is incredible.

Happy Black History Month. You know that Black Women Stitch is going to be a QuiltCon, and we have a space called Sew Black. But even if you're not coming to QuiltCon—and seriously, why you're not coming to QuiltCon? I think it's gonna be really fun. But if you're not coming to QuiltCon, you can still participate in Sew Black right from home. We are having a sew and show designed to amplify and elevate Black surface pattern designers who have created quilting fabrics. So in partnership with some folks in the Black Women Stitch community, we will be bringing you amazing garments and projects from fabrics by E Bond from Free Spirit Fabrics; Jen Hewitt and Rashida Coleman Hale from Ruby Star Society; and Nefertiti Griggs and Janine Lecour from Spoonflower. You can participate in Sew Black by buying their fabrics and making garments from them. And, in partnership with Bernina, you can be entered to win a Burnett thirty-three when you use the hashtag Sew Black QC. Sew Black QC is also a discount code, giving you twenty percent off at Spoonflower and ten percent off at Crimson Tate. We look forward to seeing the way you Sew Black.

Now talk about QuiltCon, like for those who don't know what QuiltCon is or had never been before. What are you most looking forward to for QuiltCon twenty twenty-three in Atlanta this year?

Carole Lyles Shaw 28:57

I'm looking forward to seeing people in real life, you know? Fistbumps, hugs, whatever we can do at that point safely. As much as I love teaching and lecturing virtually, I mean, I love it.

Lisa Woolfork 29:10

And you're good at it. You have to admit you are also good at that, you know, you do such a great job with the technology. You're really great with sharing the information, and you're great aT engaging speakers, so you really do shine online, and so to see you in real life is going to be— I've already met her in real life. So the rest of y'all need to catch up. She's also amazing, IRL. I'm sorry, I just had to say that.

Carole Lyles Shaw 29:36

I'm looking forward to that. And I'll be doing my sustainability lecture and lecturing people about hoarding.

Lisa Woolfork 29:41

Inviting people to make different choices.

Carole Lyles Shaw 29:44

Yeah, hoarding, mad hoarding. [laughs] Lisa, you're so sweet. Well, I am pretty harsh on that because I know what we do. I know what I do. I feel my role is to call it out in a loving way.

Lisa Woolfork 29:57

Because you've been there. You're not preaching from a seat that you've not sat in, you know what I mean?

Carole Lyles Shaw 30:02

And I manage myself every day. When I go to a local quilt shop, one of my favorite shops because I need some more of that XYZ blue, I walk in, I have my list, and I stick to my list. Rarely do I go outside of that list, but I still buy fabric because I'm using it up.

Lisa Woolfork 30:23

Yes, yes, yes, I'm excited to learn more for sure. So you're excited to see people in real life that we haven't seen together in a while.

Carole Lyles Shaw 30:31

The other thing about QuiltCon, I will also say, is that there are classes, most of which fill up very quickly, when the sign-ups open, like, I don't know, eight months or whatever before the actual event. Please don't be discouraged by that and think there's no reason to attend. The lecture series is just as valuable, just as valuable every year. And you get so much content information in the lectures, there are over five hundred modern quilts on display, probably more. There are going to be special exhibits. You can spend three days just doing that stuff and you would not exhausted all. You would not.

Lisa Woolfork 31:11


Carole Lyles Shaw 31:12

And then you get to hang out with people and go to dinner and have lunch and, you know, celebrate yourself!

Lisa Woolfork 31:17

Celebrate and socialize!

Carole Lyles Shaw 31:19

Going to the masses is, to me, much less important than all the other aspects of the live event. So do come.

Lisa Woolfork 31:28

Y'all gotta come because I'm gonna be there...

Carole Lyles Shaw 31:31


Lisa Woolfork 31:31

...and I'm gonna have a Black-ass good time, which is like one of my favorite types of good time of all times.

Carole Lyles Shaw 31:36

So, Lisa, tell us what you're doing at QuiltCon. We need to hear this.

Lisa Woolfork 31:40

Y'all, I am so excited. We are hosting an affinity space at QuiltCon called Sew Black. It's gonna be so Black. It's gonna be amazing. We've got some really great support and underwriting from some great companies. We've got Bernina giving—we're gonna give away two sewing machines. We're gonna have games and scavenger hunts. We're going to be doing live recordings of some of the podcast episodes on site. And, as Carole said—the thing that Carole didn't mention, probably because Carole is trying to get everybody to be good and live within their means, et cetera, et cetera. But I can tell you that I have what one could call a QuiltCon savings account that I have established with the full intent of blowing a wad of money at QuiltCon. Because one thing Carole did mention is—

Carole Lyles Shaw 32:29

The vender haul!

Lisa Woolfork 32:31

The shopping. Y'all, the vendor haul, the fabric, the notions, the scissors, the cutters, the fabrics—everything. There is so much, and, y'all, they're expecting ten thousand people to come through QuiltCon this year. It is going to be so much fun. Black Women Stitch: We are going to be in the house. We're going to have more information coming out about that. But we have such a good time planned. And, also, although the classes do fill up fast, I think I signed up for like three or four classes, and one of them I got on the waitlist and then I got off the waitlist. So don't be afraid to put some stuff on a waitlist, keep your fingers crossed, you know, but as Carole said the's like being in a museum.

Carole Lyles Shaw 33:16


Lisa Woolfork 33:17

And it's not possible to see everything on just one day.

Carole Lyles Shaw 33:21


Lisa Woolfork 33:21

Because there's just so much to see. There's so much to see. But I absolutely plan on bringing my QuiltCon savings account, my little QuiltCon savings bag, so I can buy a couple two things.

Carole Lyles Shaw 33:34

Okay, I might as well give full disclosure. So will I! [laughing]

Lisa Woolfork 33:41

Hey, you didn't say and apply to notions. Like, I know, you would imagine that. I know you probably have this issue way more than I do. But I do consider myself a quilter. I started quilting twenty-five years ago when I started apparel sewing at the same time, and I don't know how many rulers I own. R-U-L-E-R-S. Y'all you would think that one square inch, one five-inch square, one six-inch square, one eight-inch— why do I have all these? Because sometimes you just need to make a four-inch square, and you don't want to use your eight-inch square to do it. You want to use your four-inch square. I mean, there's so many tools and tips and tricks and things like safety pin closers called a little quick clip that make it easier to safety pin baste your quilts, like all sorts of like little knick-knack things that you never thought about that are really great for all types of sewing. So that's something that I know for sure me and some folks on my team who are coming we are very excited for the shopping. We will absolutely see a lot of quilts. We will also see a lot of shopping.

Carole Lyles Shaw 34:46

And you'll see a lot of quilters wearing jackets and, you know, shawls and scarves and skirts and dresses made from patchwork fabric I'll say.

Lisa Woolfork 34:57

Yes, yes, yes.

Carole Lyles Shaw 34:59

There'll be some of that too.

Lisa Woolfork 35:00

Quilted garments! It's like a bit of a fashion show. It's like a fashion show slash reunion slash museum exhibition slash collaborative opportunity, lectures, learning. There's just going to be so much, and I did say that we were going to mention Lisa, because I would love to hear about what you'll be doing with her in June, Lisa Shepard Stewart, who is a mutual friend and runs Cultured Expressions in Rahway, New Jersey, will be vending at QuiltCon for the first time this year. So she's gonna be coming down. So I'm delighted to see her and hang out. But what are you and Lisa going to be doing in June, Carole

Carole Lyles Shaw 35:36

Lisa runs retreats. And of course, with the pandemic, she had to put them on hold for a bit, and she runs them in the U.S. And she does some international ones as well. But in twenty twenty-three, she's doing two in the U.S. The first one is in June, and I will be teaching an Afro-modern, quilt projects there, which is another emerging trend that I'm advocating anyway. So I'll be teaching there, and she and another teacher will also be running classes. But it's a three-day retreat up in Pennsylvania, just hang out. It's not going to be a huge group. She, I think, is already taking reservations at Cultured...

Lisa Woolfork 36:14


Carole Lyles Shaw 36:15

...Expressions dot com. That will be her summer event. And then in the fall, she's going to Santa Fe, and I'm hoping to attend that one.

Lisa Woolfork 36:25

And not have to work?

Carole Lyles Shaw 36:26

I won't be working. I'll just be hanging out!

Lisa Woolfork 36:28

Hangin' out and just having a good time. Well, that is so exciting. Carole, thank you so much for talking with me today. But before we wrap up, I ask everyone the slogan of a Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. What advice do you have for our listeners today to help us get our stitch together in twenty twenty-three and beyond?

Carole Lyles Shaw 36:48

I would say pay close attention to the hearts of the quilt making that give you joy and energy. Which is not to say, you know, like my people struggle to it, learning something new, paying attention, but go where your joy takes you. Because if it's just tedious and hard and repetitious, or boring or whatever, and it doesn't make you smile, don't do it. Because there's too many options, too many different ways to make a quilt out there. Find the ones that make you smile most of the part of the way through and at the end, and just go with your heart.

Lisa Woolfork 37:28

And on that note, thank you, Carole, so much for being here with us today. This was a true joy. Thank you.

Carole Lyles Shaw 37:36

Thank you. Bye bye, everybody.

Lisa Woolfork 37:41

You've been listening to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you joining us this week and every week for stories that center Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. We invite you to join the Black Women Stitch Patreon community with giving levels beginning at five dollars a month. Your contributions help us bring the Stitch Please podcast to you every week. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support. And come back next week, and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

You may also like...


Discount code SEWBLACKQC for 20% off at Spoonflower and 10% off at Crimson Tate.