QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: Never Forgotten by the Melbourne MQ

By Catherine Mollica, member

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For this project, the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild design team was gathered together from a handful of volunteer members. We started by thinking about the landscape of our state, and soon turned closer to home. Our inspiration pictures were those that featured as part of the 5000 Poppies Project commemorating the ANZAC campaign centenary 1915-2015, which marked a significant nation-building time for the new federation of Australia and the sacrifice of young men in the trenches of Europe and the Middle East during WWI. During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. The sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the poem “In Flanders fields.” In English literature of the 19th century, poppies had symbolised sleep or a state of oblivion; in the literature of the First World War, a new, more powerful symbolism was attached to the poppy — the sacrifice of shed blood.

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Many a quilter has looked at Federation Square in the heart of our city and wondered how they could recreate its angular features in fabric. We quickly realised that the images from the 5000 Poppies Project presented a unique inspiration: The background of Fed Square (as locals fondly call it) places us wholly in the present; the sea of poppies represents remembrance for heritage, respect for history and a nod to our traditional quilting roots. In addition, the actual sea of crafted poppies was created by a global creative volunteer collaboration.

This translated beautifully to the colour palette chosen for the MQG challenge this year. The grey, cream and black showed the glass, frames and unique shapes of Fed Square, and the yellow and blue represent the reflected sky and neighbouring Flinders Street Station. We asked members to contribute shades of red to allow great variety in the petals of the poppies.

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We were inspired by the challenge to improvise with intent, and ran collaborative construction sessions so that we could explore our framework and try to develop the design as a group. At first many of us felt daunted at the task, but once we started to get some shapes on our floor-based ”design wall” we felt excitement at seeing the concept develop. We had “check ins” periodically during each session, to gather round the blocks and see where it was heading, and to discuss what we liked and didn’t like. The discussion and exchange were what moved the quilt forward, and these moments of re-examining and evolving were wonderful! It was exciting to hear everyone’s observations and be open to changing what we had done as we made new discoveries.

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Our final quilt reflects input from everyone who worked on it and problem solved when everyone became very aware of the extra time needed to improvise and fit irregular pieces together, rather than following a repeating pattern. We’ve enjoyed the process of developing this quilt together — working outside our comfort zone at times but discovering new ways of working and improvising. We’re very proud of our finished quilt, which will ultimately benefit a local charity in the coming months.

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: Constellation of Wishes
 by the 
Vermont MQG

By Janet Jaffe, memberConstellation_of_Wishes

Greetings from the Vermont Modern Quilt Guild! We’re 30 women (no male members… yet!) of different ages and backgrounds who meet in downtown Burlington on the 2nd Sunday morning of every month to share our ideas, talents, quilting know-how and workmanship. We also have a lot of fun at meetings punctuated by laughter. Although the Vermont Modern Quilt Guild is barely a year old, we continue to welcome new members on a monthly basis.

We began the process of entering our very first MQG Charity Quilt Challenge in July, first by selecting our local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to be the recipient of our quilt. Next we considered the challenge theme, “Improv With Intent.” Have you ever seen the Make-A-Wish Foundation logo? A consensus was quickly reached to use improvised star blocks set in black backgrounds as our theme, no holds barred.

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At our September meeting, fabric swatches were brought in by Rachael Arnold to provide color guidance for our individual block construction. Janet Jaffe gave a demo of an improvised star, based on the Gwen Marston’s technique for variable stars in her book, “Liberated Quiltmaking.”

By Thanksgiving weekend, when we gathered as a group to decide on the layout and assembly mechanics, we had collected 50 stars and the feverish piecing ensued! Thirty-six stars ended up on the front and the remaining fourteen were pieced into the back, effectively making it a reversible quilt!

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At our holiday meeting/pot luck brunch/Yankee gift swap in early December, the quilt top and back were revealed. Guild member, Marty DelNevo volunteered to do the quilting on her long-arm. The binding was attached by Anya Byam.

In all, 13 members contributed in some way to this effort. The process of working together served as a bonding experience for the diverse membership of a guild in its infancy, uniting us in a common cause to serve our community through the sharing of our unique talents. Thanks for the opportunity, MQG!

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: 35 Sisters by the Pittsburgh MQG

By Amanda Hancock, President

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When the color scheme and challenge theme (Improv With Intent) was announced for the 2016 QuiltCon Charity Challenge, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to represent our fair city! Pittsburgh is well known for the beautiful golden steel bridges that surround the downtown skyline. Three of the most iconic of these bridges are affectionately termed “The Three Sisters.”

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For this challenge we expanded an image of one of these sisters to quilt size (70″ x 90″) and then deconstructed it into 24 manageably sized blocks. Guild members were then given these block images along with packets of fabric that were no bigger than fat eighths (and were in fact mostly small strips) and instructions to improv piece their block using the image portion as a reference point. In the end the blocks were put back together to reconstruct the bridge in its entirety. The final effect is a cool, impressionistic image of the bridge which is at once cohesive and also expressive of the individuals who contributed to the effort.

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We were lucky in this endeavor to have had Sherri Lynn Wood visit us while we were working on this project to lead a workshop on improv piecing. Many of the members have expressed their gratitude for this opportunity, and we all agreed that the concepts and skills learned during the workshop were instrumental to our success with the challenge.

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Initially, many of us felt nervous and apprehensive about the project. How would it turn out? Would it look crazy? What if my block doesn’t look like her block? What if the lines don’t match up! How do I even do that curve?! However! Many agreed in the end that it was a very freeing experience to shake off all the rules, lay the apprehensions aside, and just make. Many are even asking when we can do this again! Overall, the experience really brought us together as a guild. We are, as of this blog post, a guild that is 34 women strong. We named this piece “35 Sisters” as a nod to both the bridge itself and the hands that constructed this version of it.

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As of yet, we have not identified a charity to donate this quilt to. We would like to donate it to an organization that can perhaps auction if off to raise proceeds to maximize its potential impact for the greater good.

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge: Flame of Inspiration by the Seattle MQG

by Amber Arnold, Member

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The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild saw the 2016 QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge as an opportunity to involve many members of our guild, respecting the diversity of their individual styles, while striving toward the stated theme of the challenge. We decided to start from the traditional lone star quilt and add a modern interpretation, following the stated guidelines of improv with intent.

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Members of the guild were asked to create individual diamonds using a main color and two accents in an improv style. The produced diamonds were unique and a great representation of the variety of quilting styles we see in our guild members. We organized sew-in events to work together assembling the quilt and derive inspiration from each other.

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Our quilter, Megan Riley, quilted to bring the disparate diamonds produced by our members together, including words in the quilting that followed the burst of the star, starting with the flame of “ideas,” working with “shapes,” inspiring the “makers”, and ending with “art.”

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As the committee chair for this project, my favorite part of the whole process was seeing the diverse work of our members unified in a single quilt in such a beautiful fashion.

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: “Milky Way the Modern Way” by the Portland MQG Hillsboro Carpool Group

by AnnMarie Cowley, member

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The Hillsboro carpool gals (eight of us from Portland MQG and one deserter now with San Antonio MQG) agreed to do this challenge, and once we decided to make improv stars, off we went. One of us purchased Kona solids per the predetermined color palette. Each of us could add any solid or print that matched the chosen colors and made three stars each finishing at 3.5″, 6.5″ and 9.5″. PMQG has Sew Days at Fabric Depot, so we met two consecutive months with a plan in mind, then one last time at a member’s home. One member made the back from scraps, another quilted it, and then another bound and applied the sleeve.

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Probably the thing we learned in this challenge was about each other. Our carpool ride is usually 1.75 hours getting to the meetings, and an hour back, but we spent a lot more time together on this quilt. It was great having one member not sewing and moving the blocks around and giving direction. Occasionally, we would all break and get a consensus.

For me, I love the name of the quilt and that we met the deadline and will get to show it off at PMQG next Thursday. Important to all of us was to use fabric from fellow PMQG members: Elizabeth Hartman, Mo Bedel, Violet Craft and Monica Solorio-Snow.

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: Beach Blanket Improv by the South Florida MQG

By Allison Schnackenberg, President

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South Florida MQG is a newly formalized guild — we took the leap and joined the MQG midway through 2015. Prior to that we were an informal group meeting once a month in our local quilt shop, the wonderful Stitchcraft of Boca Raton. Most of our members are new to modern quilting, coming either from a traditional quilting background, or being entirely new to quilting. Our very first workshop was an improv round robin, and it was a joy to see the gusto with which everyone abandoned their rulers and threw themselves into improv! So we were pretty excited about the idea of a group improv with intent for this challenge.

SFMQG covers a large land mass — a part of Florida that stretches from Palm City to Miami! Due to our members being so spread out, it can be a challenge to organize time to work together as a group on a sewing project. For this reason, we decided to work on individual pieces of the quilt. Many of us have been profoundly influenced by Sherri Lynn Wood’s wonderful Improv Handbook, and following her lead, we identified the steps we wanted to follow for this project.

Curating our fabrics

In fact, the first step was done for us by the MQG — the colors, which were part of the challenge framework. 

Find inspiration
These colors really spoke to us: a Florida sunset! We have glorious, dramatic sunsets in this part of the world – the blue skies melding into the golden and crimson sun on the dark horizon over the sea. The colors were a gift for us! 

Set limits
We then limited ourselves to five colors, and we restricted our patchwork size by limiting the amount of fabric available to each participant (a fat eighth of each color).

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Defining our process
An important part of the process for us was to make it easy for everyone to participate. For many of our members, working on this quilt would be their very first hands-on attempt at improv. I gave a presentation at a meeting which was aimed at removing some of the fear and loosening up the death-grips on those rulers. I then devised a step-by-step process for the patchwork which I hoped would make everyone comfortable. The instructions were specific enough to give the terrified a guide rope, but loose enough to allow the more confident to base jump right into the wild blue yonder. I deliberately did not include any photographs with the instructions, or post any tutorial photos, because I wanted imagination to take flight. We simply used that inspirational sunset as our guide, and used our scissors to create shapes to build our patchwork.

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I can not tell you how dumbfounded I was at our November meeting, as block after beautiful block turned up on the design board. A glorious wall full of colorful, abstract, improvised sunsets! As a guild, we knocked it out of the park.

For our December meeting, we spent the entire afternoon sewing. We are lucky to have Tonya Ricucci, the Unruly Quilter and a master of improvisational piecing, in our guild. Tonya led the group in charge of devising a layout. They simply starting putting pieces together like a puzzle, fitting one patchwork section to another and building our quilt top. Another group improv-pieced a back for the quilt from the leftover fabric used for the top. A third group cut and prepared binding. We had two members pressing everything as we went. We pieced the top and back together that afternoon. Our talented member Patti Auten did the free motion quilting in the following weeks. Charlotte Noll and Kerrilyn O’Rourke lent their talents to sew the binding and sleeve.

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It fills my heart with joy to see a such a new guild come together and complete this project. So much fearless creativity was harnessed and devoted to the completion of our quilt. I hope that the visitors to QuiltCon enjoyed our work as much as we have enjoyed seeing the beautiful creations made by other modern guilds. There is something truly special about feeling part of a project that so many people around the globe have also been a part of. Thanks to the MQG for making this wonderful project possible!

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: “Styx” by the Tasmanian MQG

By Katherine Jones, Secretary

Blog_post_photo_4In taking on the charity quilt challenge, the Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild wanted to create a quilt that would reflect a visual aspect of life in Tasmania. Our secretary, Kat Jones, proposed the chosen concept based on the rear view of a logging truck, a familiar sight on Tasmanian Roads. Kat also volunteered to project manage the quilt construction.

A Sunday sew-in was held and participating members were issued with a fabric pack to complete their “log.” Solids were preferred for the quilt, and the entire supplied colour palette (excluding white) was adopted whilst black was chosen for the background.

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We wanted this project to be a learning experience as well as a project to include all members. They learnt how to make bias binding and machine appliqué it into place. Each person created 3 quarters of a circle, each with a number of rings to represent the log growth rings. They then improvised by slicing the quarter pieces into wedges and added alternate wedges of black background in order to form a full “log.” To complete the block an oval of black was appliqued in the centre.

We thought improv was perfect for this project as the quilt concept is more effective if each and every block was unique, as no two “logs” are ever the same. Everyone had a fun day making the improv blocks and learning some new techniques along the way.

The next challenge was working out how to piece them together; a jigsaw puzzle magnificently solved by the hand piecing talent of Shirley Jeffery (Member) and Kat Jones. Each and every block or partially completed block was included in the quilt layout.

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The quilt was then basted and handed over to the talented Jess Frost (Communications Officer) for machine quilting.

Once Jess had completed the quilting it was handed back to Kat Jones to add highlights of hand quilting using perle cotton and to attach the binding.

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To complete the concept a label was made by Jo Chandler (Treasurer) and Kat Jones to represent a number plate using bias binding and hand embroidery that you would see if following a log truck on our Tasmanian roads.

TMQG members were asked to suggest names for the quilt and the name “Styx” was settled upon as it references the old growth forest conservation area of the Styx Valley and Styx River in south west Tasmania.   Our president Helen Stubbings organized for our quilt to be auctioned at annual ball of Colony 47, a local Tasmanian charity,  to raise funds to support their work in providing housing to over 15000 children, young people and families every year.  Thanks to all our members who participated in making this wonderful unique quilt.

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.

QuiltCon 2017 Charity Quilt Challenge

The QuiltCon Charity Challenge is one of the MQG’s largest-scale charity projects, and we look forward to getting as many member guilds and individual members involved as possible.

The QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge is open to MEMBERS ONLY. Become a member today!

Guilds will donate the finished quilt to their local communities! After the quilts are displayed at QuiltCon, guilds are asked to donate the completed quilt to a local charity your guild supports.

The 2017 QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge is a bit different from the 2016 QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge. Please read carefully.

This year’s challenge requires participants to work collaboratively to create completed quilts using a predetermined color palette while crafting a design that plays with scale.

About the Challenge

Working with the Color Palette

The color palette can be described as:

Quiltcon Charity Quilt Palette 2017See a complete list of coordinating solid fabrics at quiltcon.com.

Once you have some of these solids on hand, it is easy to pull prints from your stash that coordinate. Yes, you can use prints! If your group prefers, it can be all prints. When choosing prints, it’s best to look for monochromatic/tone-on-tone prints rather than those that include other colors outside the color palette. No additional neutrals are permitted, only those included in the color palette.

Playing with Scale and How to Use It

Carefully chosen guidelines are so important when working with a group. Start your planning with a brainstorming session where all members can contribute ideas. If everyone feels invested in the plan, there will be better follow through. Consider not only the theme, but also how to best use the color palette and keep the other MQG aesthetics in mind as well. Nominate a Project Manager (see below for more on that) and make sure that person will be available through QuiltCon 2017 to receive and follow through with emails regarding the challenge.

Fly Away by Heather Jones

Fly Away by Heather Jones

You could decide to go with large-scale piecing. The overall design would be created with large pieces of fabric and a simple overall design. This might mean designing a quilt with one large block balanced in negative space. Heather Jones uses large-scale piecing in many of her designs. Check out her website for inspiration.

Untitled by Lindsay Stead

Untitled by Lindsay Stead

Lindsay Stead’s 2015 QuiltCon entry is another great example of large-scale piecing.

Log Cabin WIP by Chawne Kimber

Log Cabin WIP by Chawne Kimber

Or, you could go the opposite way and make blocks with very tiny pieces. This type of scale play is very popular right now. Chawne Kimber has made many modern quilts crafted from tiny (1/4”!) pieces. Please visit her website as well.

i Quilt by Kathy York

i Quilt by Kathy York

You could use multiple sizes of the same block in your quilt design. The Quilt Con 2015 Best in Show winner, Kathy York’s “i Quilt” is a great example.

Emergent by Kari Vojtechovsky

Emergent by Kari Vojtechovsky

Emergent by Kari Vojechovsky uses a combination of large scale piecing and smaller piecing in one cohesive design.

If you want to incorporate prints into your quilt design, you could choose prints with the same graphic element in different sizes. For example, one fabric might have 4-inch circles, another might have circles that are a half inch in diameter. You could scale right down to the pindots. Careful fabric choice is important here to make sure the scale change is obvious and an important part of the overall quilt design.

Pixel Pusher II by Caro Sheridan

Pixel Pusher II by Caro Sheridan

You might also think about pixelation. Pixelation and scale are closely related, especially when cropping comes into play. Pixelation can be the magnification of an object rather than the way most people think of it as low resolution.

Pixelation and scale are very closely involved especially when cropping comes into play. Pixelation can be the magnification of object rather than the way most people use it as low-res.

Resources

Organizing Your Guild’s Challenge

Determine Your Guild’s Project Manager

When you begin discussing this challenge with your guild, we ask that you nominate a QuiltCon Charity Quilt project manager for your guild. She/he will be the point of contact for direct communication between the MQG and your guild. She/he should be the person who signs the guild up for the challenge, oversees the project to make sure things are on schedule, and mails the quilt to QuiltCon. All emails sent about the challenge will be sent to this contact person only. That means that the project manager is responsible for communicating to the guild.

Sign-ups

  • Guilds: Project managers for local guilds can use this form to sign up their guild. Please make sure this is filled out by July 30, 2016. Please have your QuiltCon Charity Quilt project manager sign up.
  • Individual member teams: Individual Members Teams (IMTs) should select a leader who will be the only point of contact for the team. Individual members should sign up by May 15, 2016. IMTs can be formed in two ways:
    • Form their own group: If you want to create your own individual member group, please email Deborah Fisher and provide her with a name for your team and the names and email addresses of the two individuals who will be points of contact for your IMT.
    • Be assigned a group: If you want to be linked up with other members, fill out the form we will be sending via email soon. We will work to get groups together according to zip code and/or country to keep your traveling/shipping costs low.

Design the quilt!

  • Guilds, groups and/or individuals will complete a quilt using the predetermined color palette.
  • Guilds, groups and/or will complete a quilt playing with scale.
  • Patterns are allowed but you must credit the designer and obtain their permission in advance.

Work Together

  • Your guild and/or members will provide the blocks for the quilt.
  • Your guild will provide batting, backing, binding and additional fabric to complete the quilt top.
  • Quilts should be twin size (generally no smaller than 68”x 88” and not much bigger than 72” x 92”).
  • Quilting must be no farther apart than 2”. These quilts will be used, so please make sure they are sturdy.
  • Machine sewn bindings are okay.

Blog Post (optional)

  • Your guild will submit an optional blog post with 3–4 accompanying photos discussing the process of designing and completing your guild’s quilt by January 14, 2017.
  • We will email directions to participating guilds on submitting your content in October 2016.

Shipping

All quilts must have a sleeve and label.

  • Label: Each charity quilt sent must have a label securely attached to the back of the quilt. We expect that this is a temporary label that you will take off before donating the quilt to your charity. The label should identify your guild/group and contain the return shipping address.
  • Sleeve: Quilts will be hung with sleeves. Charity quilts require 4” sleeves. Quilts received without sleeves will not be hung. We suggest attaching the sleeve in very big stitches, so that it can be removed before sending to the charity, if applicable. Please review Jacquie Gering’s tutorial on how to make and apply a sleeve to your quilt.

The deadline for these quilts is February 3, 2017.

  • Complete details on shipping will be emailed to your project manager in December 2016.
  • If you need help, please visit the Community site or feel free to email our QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge Coordinator, Amy Friend.

Thank you for your interest in completing the QuiltCon 2017 Charity Quilt Challenge. If you or your guild are interested in becoming a part of the MQG, read about membership here!

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: “Controlled Chaos” by the New Hampshire MQG

By Marie Joerger, VP; and Susie Boots, Technology

The NHMQG decided to participate in the MQG charity challenge, so the committee chose Michael Miller’s color palette to meet the challenge requirements. The decision was made to use bright white and soft white as the background colors and aqua as the main feature color, with touches of gray, gold and a hint of red.

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Where to start with an improv quilt? The co-chairs met and decided to incorporate two improv techniques that they could share with guild members. Packets were handed out at a meeting for members to complete two different types of blocks — one block style of made fabric and the other of 6” squares using the stitch and flip method.

Once we received the blocks back, we had a small group get-together to decide how to use the made fabric and blocks.

Using the design wall, we came up with a plan to piece the made fabric into larger pieces and added borders to these. With these squares, we created nine patches, while the remaining squares were scattered throughout the rest of the quilt.

We started cutting background pieces to fill in the space between the blocks that had been made. With lots of trial and error, our group worked the quilt from top to bottom. About halfway down we realized there was too much negative space on top. The decision was made to make appliqué circle blocks to fill in the negative space.

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Once the circles were placed, the thought came to add more shapes. Triangles were made in different sizes, then one landed on top of a rectangle, and an arrow was formed! The top was complete and off to the volunteer long arm quilter, Lisa Teichmann, of Garden Gate Quilting. Excitedly, we received bits of communication on the progress of the custom quilting. In the meantime, the charity committee created the pieced binding.

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Finally, when the quilt was received back with all the beautiful dense custom quilting, the process of blocking began. Once blocked and trimmed, the binding was added.

One of our members hand stitched the binding down. Then the sleeve and label were added. Now our toughest challenge of all will be finding the right audience to donate the quilt to. Any suggestions?

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Would we do this again? Yes!
See ya next year!
Co-Chairs,
Marie Joerger and Susie Boots