Today I want to celebrate the completion of this group signature quilt and tell you more about it. Spearheaded by Fran Mitchum, this group quilt was made by members of the Crafty Gemini Quilt Club that attended the first ever quilt retreat hosted by the Crafty Gemini, Vanessa Wilson at Luther Springs in Hawthorne, Florida. Fran asked me to for assistance and I agreed to design the quilt, send out fabric and instructions to the quilters, quilt and bind the quilt. Fran was to correspond with the quilters, receive the quilt blocks and assemble the quilt top.
First off, I designed the quilt in EQ7 software. The stars represent the club members that attended the retreat and the silver gray diamonds represent Vanessa that brought this group together. We would have never met each other had Vanessa not created the CG Quilt Club and the retreaters still communicate via a Facebook group and live studio cams. Many of the retreaters are returning to Luther Springs for the fall retreats which is a testament to how much fun the retreat was.
The quilt block is 12 inches, comprised of 3 units. I used the Accuquilt Studio to cut the fabric using Studio Die 50005 (Half Square Triange-4″ finished), Go Die 55409 (Triangles in a Square-4″ Finished Square) and a 4″ finished square die. The fabric is Kona Cotton (I did not pre-wash the fabric). Each quilter was mailed a package containing the fabric pieces, some freezer paper to stabilize the center square for signing and a Micron pen for signing. As each quilter completed her block, she was to mail her finished block to Fran. Fran assembled the quilt top and got it to me by the deadline. Due to family and health issues, I was unable to complete the quilt by the retreat, but was so happy to present it to Vanessa on June 1, 2016 at the Gainesville Modern Quilters monthly meeting. It just happened to also be Vanessa’s birthday.
I quilted the quilt using an all-over orange peel design. I had originally intended to quilt it with a walking foot and I marked the entire quilt. I later discovered ruler work and completed the quilting using a Handy Quilter A4 Arc ruler and a Westalee low shank ruler foot. It was quilted on a Bernina 830 domestic sewing machine. This quilt allowed me a lot of time to practice ruler work quilting and I found it to be easier than using the walking foot. As you can see, the stitches aren’t all that consistent, but done is better than perfect (coined by Angela Walters), right?
I bound the quilt with bias binding and used a different color on each side of the quilt. The different colors shows off the “no-tails” binding technique, that join the ends of the binding at the corners with a sewn miter. This technique will be taught in an upcoming webinar of the Modern Quilt Guild by my friend and colleague, Linda Hungerford of Flourishing Palms. I originally learned a variation of this technique from a Ricky Tims DVD.
I washed and dried the quilt prior to making the label for two reasons: 1) to get the blue markings out and 2) to make sure the quilt was going to stay together. Let’s face it, when you have 36 different quilters making blocks, with 36 different sewing machines and 36 different skill levels, you are bound to have blocks that are not the same size and have some pretty skimpy seams in some cases. I only had a couple of places I needed to repair. I was pleased how the quilt came out, very soft and cuddly. I used Quilter’s Dream Poly batting (request loft). As a side note, I used color-catchers when washing the quilt, but there was no evidence of fabric bleeding.
I made the label by ironing some backing fabric to freezer paper using a dry iron and then ran that through my ink jet printer to print the label. I created a “frame” using another mitered corner technique. (Can you tell I love miters?) Before inserting the label into the frame, I applied wonder-under fusible to the back of the label and fused it to the inside of the “frame.” After stitching the label inside the frame, I hand appliqued it to the back of the quilt.
Overall, I will sum this experience up by saying group quilts are not for the faint of heart. This quilt was a labor of love by all those involved and it was a pleasure to present it to Vanessa on her birthday.