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

By Allison Schnackenberg, President

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).


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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! 

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.


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!


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. 

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

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

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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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

QuiltCon Charity Spotlight: “Louisiana: Oh What a State We’re In!” by the Quilters’ Guild Acadienne/Mod Squad

By Amy Aderman (Membership Committee Co-chair), Jonelle Archibald (Chair) and Ken Broussard (member)

Our Mod Squad is a modern quilting interest group comprised of individual members of the Modern Quilt Guild. We are all members of Quilters’ Guild Acadienne, a 25-year-old traditional guild. We saw this challenge as an opportunity to expose our traditional quilters to the world of modern quilting. We invited all guild members to participate. Quilters of all levels, most of whom were new to modern quilting, accepted. With little or no knowledge of how to begin, we began. 

pieced_charityAs a group, we watched the webinar, “Improv with Intent,” browsed galleries of modern quilts, and discussed how traditional concepts, techniques, and designs can be adapted for modern quilting. Since most of us were modern quilting newbies, we decided to collaborate by sharing ideas, teaching and learning from others. Our number-one priority was for our collaboration to be a fun, social learning process. Working alongside intermediate and advanced quilters, novices soaked up tips, techniques and confidence. They shared their own knowledge as well, and everyone grew from this exciting collaboration.


The webinar, inspirational photos and state maps led to a brainstorming session for determining our intent. We decided that we would represent various aspects of our beautiful state, and then connect them all with the winding river. We started with a very rough sketch of the concept. At each sewing session thereafter, team members used his or her imagination to create landmarks, memories, and representational pieces in both abstract and realistic designs. The prescribed color palette, at first a challenge, soon became a source of fun and whimsy, spurring our imaginations. 

When you view our quilt, visualize the scenes along the Mississippi and its tributaries. Can you find rice fields, crawfish ponds, a shrimp boat and an oil rig? Can you feel the joie de vivre in the vibrant rhythm of jazz and zydeco? Our state flower, bird, tree, and insect each have a place. The tranquility of the rural areas and the energy of the urban scenes flow around each other as one might discover Louisiana.

Whether you’ve lived in Louisiana your whole life, are a transplant from somewhere else, or even a visitor, you can’t help but be inspired.  Just as threads bind the various pieces of a quilt together, the mighty Mississippi is a source of energy stitching together all aspects of our lives: connecting, enriching, sustaining, feeding, and binding us all. 

The Charity Quilt Challenge has stirred the pot within our guild, challenging traditional members — both novices and experts — to taste a genre perhaps unfamiliar to them. We’ve added spice to our pot and a new flavor to our already-rich gumbo.

Mod Squad Charity Quilt Challenge Members (listed alphabetically)
Amy Aderman, Beth Andrepont, Jonelle Archibald, Kenneth Broussard, Nadine Cain, Linda Ducotey, Judy Garber, Beth Glass, Stella Guidry, Marty Mason, Diane Redfearn, and Polly Stacks.

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: “An Exercise in Trust” by the Denver MQG

By Andrea Berryhill, President

Last year the Modern Quilt Guild threw out a challenge for the 2016 charity quilts to be displayed in Pasadena. The challenge required participants to “work collaboratively to create completed quilts using a predetermined color palette and improv with intent.” Several members of the Denver Metro guild know a thing or two about improv, so we were eager to accept the challenge!

The first step in our process was to choose a theme around which to construct our quilt so that it would still be cohesive. The theme that was settled on was “Trust.” Specifically, how does trust come into play when making a collaborative quilt?

We trusted the MQG in their choice of colors, which included several neutrals and a few primary colors. Participants were then instructed to make an improvisational block using the neutral colors for their negative space and a simple four-sided shape with the black color trusting that there would be more direction to come. The third step was to put the pieced blocks into a bag, mix them up and draw out new blocks. Those blocks could then be altered using small amounts of the secondary colors using improvisation, curved piecing, slice and insert or whatever moved the maker, trusting the process while working together. Finally, the blocks were laid out with the intention of creating a focal point and some visual interest and movement through the use of the secondary colors and quilting. I think the result is a stunning success!

An interesting point to make is that many of these blocks were turned on their corners in order to create the movement of the smaller secondary colored curves. It was like putting together a puzzle for which there was no picture. There are a lot of Y-seams in this baby!


Let’s face it, improv can be intimidating for a lot of us quilters. We tend to like order, and lines, and rulers! However, when you quilt with intention, basing your ideas off of a set of guidelines it takes some of the intimidation off the table and turns out to be a lot of fun. We loved seeing how all the blocks, as different as they were, still fit together (in our minds) perfectly! We’re not sure yet where we’ll be donating our quilt, but we hope that it makes the recipient smile.


The women of the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild would like to give the following members thanks for their participation: Andrea Berryhill, Alaina Marler, Marsha Loewenberg, Chelsea O’Hayre, Katie Rapp, Shelby Skumanich, Rosalynda Turner, Amy Wade, and Emily Voytek. We would like to especially thank Stephanie Ruyle for trusting us with an amazing design concept and working on final construction, Wendy Bermingham and Christine Perrigo for the many hours of assembly, creating the back and the amazing quilting, Susan Sanstistevan for heading up the committee and Judy Sanclaria for binding the quilt. What a beautiful collaboration!

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: Riverfire by the Brisbane MQG

By Victoria Mansfield, Committee Member

Participating in this challenge was my idea and fortunately, after floating the idea, I immediately had the support of the guild and was nominated to be the Project Leader. The first step, as always, is to come up with a plan, and since the Storey Bridge is the logo of the Brisbane MQG (BMQG) it was my first suggestion. Another member then suggested the bridge with fireworks, and that was it — we had our idea!


“Riverfire” is the finale event to the annual Brisbane Festival and is a huge fireworks display along the section of the Brisbane River which winds its way through the CBD, with the Storey Bridge being a massive feature of this display. Almost everyone in Brisbane has attended at least one Riverfire, and the event holds a special place in all of our hearts. The Storey Bridge also turned 75 in July 2015, right at the time we were coming up with our plan. Brisbane, by world standards, is a relatively young city and has very few noteworthy architectural features. The Storey Bridge is one of our most recognised structures and we wanted to help celebrate it turning 75!

The next step was to come up with a type of quilt that would be able to include any member who wished to contribute.  We therefore thought smaller blocks would be the best option and liked the idea that this would pixelate the image. The quilt consists of 414 improv wonky log cabin style blocks 4½”. Twelve members made blocks, with a special mention to Janet Jackson, Jenny Cameron and Kirsty Cleverly, who between them made nearly 200 blocks.


BMQG held its first annual retreat in October 2015, and one of the retreat missions was to get the last 50 or so blocks made and to work on the final layout. It was fantastic to have input on the layout from all on retreat, which helped make this quilt even better! After assembling the top, we chose quilting to amplify the fireworks and make them the main feature of the quilt. The bridge quilting was done with a walking foot on a domestic machine and the sky, water and fireworks were all done on a Sweet 16.


I loved the collaborative process we went through as a guild to create this quilt and how much it brought us all together. The creativity of our members is a massive inspiration to me personally and to the guild as a group, and I want to thank the MQG for bringing us together! 

As Project Leader, I also want to thank all the members of the BMQG for their contributions to this project and for helping to make our guild so amazing! 

Our chosen charity is a Domestic Violence Shelter run by The Salvation Army.  We have donated 33 quilts to them over the last year, with many more in the process of being created and hope they provide some comfort in a time of need.


Thank you to our QuiltCon sponsors!

Thank you so much to our amazing sponsors for helping make QuiltCon possible! We couldn’t do this show without you, and we truly, deeply appreciate your generosity. You mean the world to us!


Northcott, Platinum Sponsor

Handi Quilter

Handi Quilter, Platinum Sponsor

Baby Lock

Baby Lock, Platinum Sponsor

Robert Kaufman

Robert Kaufman, Platinum Sponsor


FreeSpirit, Platinum Sponsor

Craft South

Craft South, Platinum Sponsor


Moda, Platinum Sponsor


Bernina, Platinum Sponsor

Stash Books

Stash Books, Platinum Sponsor

Riley Blake Designs

Riley Blake Designs, Platinum Sponsor

Michael Miller Fabrics

Michael Miller Fabrics, Platinum Sponsor


Janome, Platinum Sponsor

Thank you everyone! See you in Savannah!