QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: “Rise Up and Reach” by the Southern Appalachian MQG

By Randy Case, Member & Design Team and Janelle Warren, VP Ed/Events & Design Team

SAMQG 2016Charity Quilt

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.

2 Design Board

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.

3 Patty Singer

Patty Singer

 

4 Diana Randy Janelle

Patty Singer, Diana Turkovics, Randy Case & Janelle Warren

 

5 Janelle and Terry

Janelle Warren and Terry Baird at Sew-In Fun

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.

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Wonky Stars by Jeanne Hewitt and Randy Case.

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.

Randy engineering the piecing.

Randy engineering the piecing.

After numerous sew-ins, we figured out how to piece it all together.

Jeanne Hewitt, Randy Case, Pam Howard, Barbara Fowler, Terry Baird, Maureen Ripper Members not pictured:  Ann Graham, Patty Singer, Janelle Warren, Karen Hopple, & Barbara Haydon

Jeanne Hewitt, Randy Case, Pam Howard, Barbara Fowler, Terry Baird, Maureen Ripper
Members not pictured:  Ann Graham, Patty Singer, Janelle Warren, Karen Hopple, & Barbara Haydon

At another sew-in, the team was challenged with using all our scraps from the front of the quilt to piece the back!

Terry & Janelle Getting the Quilt Ready for our brave new long arm quilter, Randy Case!

Terry & Janelle Getting the Quilt Ready for our brave new long arm quilter, Randy Case!

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The back of the quilt showing off Randy’s great quilting.

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!

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: Niagara MQG

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I had only recently joined the Niagara Modern Quilt Guild when the topic of a charity quilt came up. I had been involved in guilds before and with charity quilts, however this was to be a totally different game! Our group was led by the indefatigable Tara. She deciphered the challenge details, timelines and colours and stressed the improv nature of the work. Before I knew it, I had agreed to longarm the quilt too. I was swept up in the creative energy that our guild generates when we get together.

The materials for our quilt were generously donated by a local quilt shop, The Modern Bee. Our president, Susan, obtained the fabric and had it cut and ready for us to get to work. The game had just begun.

The first challenge came when deciding what the theme of our quilt would be. Even with our fairly small guild, we had more ideas than we knew what to do with. We started a Pinterest page to gather ideas — from Canadian inventions like lightbulbs, Robertson screws, zippers, snowmobiles, wine and grapes (we are a Niagara Guild after all), to inukshuks, beer bottles, donuts and Mountie hats — we have more than enough ideas for a lifetime of charity quilts!

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Eventually we settled on hockey. But how to improv on a hockey theme? Again Tara came to our rescue with a fabulous tutorial on her blog. She suggested each member make a simple hockey stick member to start, knowing perhaps we would move on to words, nets, masks, jerseys — and yes, even a Stanley Cup! Finally the blocks were complete.

We met for a sew-in, thinking perhaps this part would be simple and quick. But it took a concerted effort and again the guidance and patience of Team Captain Tara, who worked magic with only a taped out quilt perimeter on the floor and a tape measure. We stitched the mismatched block sizes together until the very end of our sewing day.

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Next, the longarming, which was where I came in. How to quilt something so unique? We had decided to add the words to The Good Ol’ Hockey Game by Stompin’ Tom Connors to the quilt. In addition to the words, I quilted modern squares that reminded me of the skate marks on a hockey rink.

After quilting, it was bound by Heather and labelled. More photographs were taken, and the quilt was packaged and ready for its American tour. So many steps, and each time a guild member there to pick up the puck and pass it on.

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It certainly was a challenge. It pushed us all to try something new and, best of all, work with no rules — no pattern! We had no idea how this game would end, but we were all thrilled with the result. We made it through the season to the tournament and now our quilt is off to the finals… at QuiltCon 2016!

Hope you enjoy our quilt. Proudly modern quilters and always Canadian!

QuiltCon Charity Spotlight: “This Quilt is Our Quilt” by the Tulsa MQG

By Kris Farnsworth, Charity Quilt Project Manager

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When the Tulsa Modern Quilt Guild first heard the guidelines for the 2016 QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge, the concept of “Improv with Intent” immediately inspired some of us to look at various project ideas. The thought of breaking an image down into pieces and individuals creating improv blocks to match those quickly found some support. In deciding on a subject, we considered superheroes, pop art, florals, architecture, and portraits. When one member mentioned Woody Guthrie as a possible subject, it seemed a great choice: he is a native of Oklahoma, and the Woody Guthrie Center is located right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In fact, the husband of one of our members is on the board of the Woody Guthrie Coalition, so we had an “in” with a possible charity!

Now that we had a plan, we needed to generate enthusiasm and ease the apprehension of some members who were intimidated by the project. We decided to do a trial run with a different image. While the process of making the blocks proved quite a challenge for some members, when the final product was assembled, they were impressed with the outcome and ready to tackle Woody (with the understanding that when doing the larger project, most of the individual blocks would be less complex, with a good number of background blocks needed of simple improv in one color).

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As project manager, I took our digital inspiration and cut it into images to each inspire a 5”x5” (finished size) block and named them each with coordinates in a spreadsheet to make assembling the finished blocks easier. We ordered fabric and distributed all the material and images. In order to kick the project off, we hosted a sew day to share techniques and advice.

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As the blocks started to be turned in, they were identified, labeled, checked for size, and given a trim if necessary. We held another sew day to create some time to focus on knocking out more blocks and to start assembling the top. When we first laid out the loose blocks and started to see how it was coming together, we all felt added motivation to see the finished product and were ready to tackle the remaining blocks.

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Once all the blocks were in, they were all joined into the final quilt top. One of our members, Brenda Shreve (brendasredbarn.com), agreed to quilt the project for us with a combination of matchstick and a guitar/music pantograph with even some lyrics from “This Land Is Your Land” thrown in! Then all it needed was the binding, sleeve and label.

The Woody Guthrie Coalition, a nonprofit corporation, hosts the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in mid-July to commemorate Guthrie’s life and music. The festival is held in Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma with the simple goal of  ensuring Guthrie’s musical legacy.

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Woody Guthrie photo by New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Al Aumuller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Spotlight: Postcards from North Caroline by the Charlotte MQG

by Elizabeth Busscher, Vice President, 2015

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First off, please let me say how proud I am of all the members who contributed to this quilt. When I proposed this project, I got some grumblings from the group.  Apparently, improv quilting is not our favorite! But, I think we all can agree – the end product was totally worth it!

To prepare for this challenge, our guild reviewed some basic improv techniques by watching the MQG webinar “Improv with Intent” and discussing how we as individuals could create blocks that were improvisational, but still form a cohesive quilt. We decided a quilt with six individual blocks, each with its own theme would work best for our group.

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At our September meeting, we brainstormed the themes for each block, all to be captured under the umbrella “Postcards from North Carolina.” The six ideas represented are:

  1. Beach
  2. Mountains
  3. Sports
  4. Fields/agriculture
  5. Charlotte City
  6. State bird/flower

From there the guild broke up into six teams and created individual postcards. This was a great program for our guild as it allowed for sewing time, and time to get to know other members. We also very quickly learned who was not a fan of unstructured cutting and sewing – me for one!  It was definitely a challenge for some of us. Others had issues with the limited color palette, but we all got over our fears quickly. 

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At the October meeting, we revealed each group’s finished block. It was wonderful to see those piles of fabric turn into six finished blocks. A big thanks to Keleigh for taking all the blocks home and making them into the finished quilt top. (And for free piecing all those letters!)

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And another big thanks to Vicki for quilting and binding. It looks amazing!

When this quilt returns from the show, we plan to vote on a charity that will receive it. I’m sure whoever the final recipient is will treasure it. I know I’m honored to have been part of the group who made it.

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

35 sisters front finished

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 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

SFMQG-QCCQ-HERO
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: “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

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!

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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!

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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.

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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!