By Randy Case, Member & Design Team and Janelle Warren, VP Ed/Events & Design Team
The Southern Appalachian Modern Quilt Guild (SAMQG) is now almost two years old and growing! We are a gregarious and creative group of modern and traditional quilters, drawn together from western North Carolina, northern Georgia and east Tennessee and meet in Murphy, NC to explore the intriguing facets of modern quilting.
With a year of study, tinkering and sharing notions of improv piecing, negative space, wonky stars and a lot of other new modern quilting ideas, our ambassador to QuiltCon 2015 told us about all the wonderful charity quilts she had seen at the show and challenged us to consider doing one for this year.
After a bit of tentative tiptoeing around the color palette and wondering if we could actually do this, someone suggested that we make the quilt for REACH, our local women and children shelter. That was just what we needed to spark the vision. REACH’s motto is “Compassion. Hope. Shelter.”
We wanted to express how our mountains are a shelter of love and reflect love and compassion in a safe environment. Throughout the process, REACH’s motto resounded. With that safety and security of our environment, there is hope of the light as we see so clearly in our starry skies.
We had a great idea, a great group of members and a great organization to support. Now onto the great challenge of how to transfer this into an improv quilt. Together we watched the MQG’s webinar on improv, and we were on our way.
After an initial brainstorming session with the full membership, and a frenzy of sketching and swapping of sketches among the design team, headed by Randy Case and Janelle Warren, the final concept was narrowed down. We decided on an abstract representation of a sunrise in our beautiful Appalachian Mountains with a water reflection.
This gave us a chance to refine and apply the improv techniques we had been working on recently. We roughed in a couple design options in EQ7 and, after feedback from the overall team, fine-tuned the final design and generated a full sized rendering of the main panel to guide the piecing process.
We gathered at our local quilt shop, Bless My Stitches in Murphy for several sew-ins to see this vision come together.
We supplemented the basic color palette with a variety of shadings and prints and started constructing some improv panels to capture the spirit and shadows of our mountain scene.
Lessons in color value and improv piecing emerged. It was fun to see our members sewing away, laughing and having fun making their own material. Stepping outside the box of perfection and embracing the flow of improv further anchored out love of the modern quilting way!
As the component stars, mountains and sunrise elements began to take shape the team’s enthusiasm also began to build.
Each new addition to the design wall was met with ooohs and ahhhs along with a growing confidence in the processes we were using. Our stitching sessions were genuine sharing times and, as we encouraged each other to stretch a bit past our comfort zones, we got to know each other and appreciate each individual’s contribution.
After numerous sew-ins, we figured out how to piece it all together.
At another sew-in, the team was challenged with using all our scraps from the front of the quilt to piece the back!
Our trusty hand quilters, Barbara Fowler and Maureen Ripper, added the binding and sleeve.
We were pretty pleased with the result and thoroughly delighted to share our passion of improv quilting with our community and the REACH organization.
Buoyed by this year’s experience, and with QuiltCon 2017 just down the road a piece, it was an easy decision to do it again. We’ll see y’all in Savannah!