QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: “Sew Pieceful Together in the Desert” by the Phoenix MQG

By Bonnie Bobman, Quiltcon Charity Quilt Project Manager

After reviewing the MQG prompts and video, the PHXmqg discussed what “Improv with Intent” means to us. We talked about the challenge that improvisational quilting brings to many sewing tables. We found that only one of our members truly worked with an improvisational direction in her quilting. More importantly was that many of the members were eager to learn but never knew how to approach this fantastic method! 

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Our intent for the Quiltcon charity quilt journey was to take this wonderful opportunity to learn together and join our many varied backgrounds and improvising our way to become one solid, cohesive group.

One member led a workshop on improv quilting as well as provided a home video where we could see the process and revisit the clip any time. The most important part of the process was to let go, have fun and, of course, have no rules! We tried to be concerned with only the moment and not so much the outcome. It’s easier to reign yourself back in but it is so much harder to break down the structure on our conventional quilt piecing.

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During our workshop, everyone was instructed to bring only rotary cutters and self-healing mats. Making that first random cut without a ruler was probably the most challenging step for those new to improv piecing. But once the first unmeasured cut was complete, the next came easier, and those that followed were even better! We experimented with curves, slicing, dicing and using tiny bits to create larger pieced segments. You could see the relieved, surprised and excited expressions of accomplishment all around the room!

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We had collected close to fifteen miscellaneous sized blocks. The project manager had permission to put them together and fill in the gaps to create one focus “fabric” for the quilt top. In the true improv method, the final design came from playing with the fabric until it reflected the group’s direction — togetherness.

Once the top and back was complete, the quilting was balanced and simple. The quilt went to another member for binding where she had full reign to do what she liked. Finishing touches of the sleeve and label were done by our final member. 

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We strive to have a learning environment within our guild; sharing our boundless talents and insights from all of our members. This group challenge was just one of many creative projects we have here in our Arizona guild. Our intent was to reach a very important, intangible and supremely crucial goal for our guild: to create a sense of cohesiveness within a chapter that is blessed with wonderful members from so many places — Alaska to Mexico, Connecticut to California. We are indeed a living form of a “quilt in the desert”!

More pictures on phoenixmodernquiltguild.com.