This is the last quilt I finished in 2017. Although I didn’t make most of the blocks, I’m counting it as one of “my” quilts for record-keeping purposes, since I came up with the project, managed the block collection, and put it all together. I also quilted it and bound it by hand (the first in a long time). Of course, I couldn’t have done it without all the work my guild members put into the blocks—I’m so thankful for what they gave me to work with!
My local MQG is continuing to grow and evolve, and this year we had our first changeover in presidents. We wanted to honor our founding president, and decided to make—what else?—a quilt.
We asked members to provide a signature block of their choosing in one of three block sizes. Additional requests were to use a light gray background and only solid fabrics. Beyond that, they were welcome to do any style of block they wanted.
I volunteered to head up the project, including the task of piecing everything together. One member spied some modern letter blocks on a Pinterest board curated by the recipient and chose to make those up instead of a single block. Inspired by them and one block that came in with a darker background than all the others, I ended up making two ‘tops’ for a double-sided quilt. The Thank You side has a few other blocks submitted by members that fit especially well on that side, and the other collects the remaining blocks.
The result was a quilt that channels both the guild and our president emeritus. We gifted her the quilt at our December meeting. I never did take any good photos, esp. since I finished hand-sewing the binding about 10 hours before our meeting (and slept most of the rest).
Adherence to the block rules was mixed, but it all worked out in the end. If I were to run a similar collection in the future, I would change the requests based on what I learned. Here are a few guidelines that worked well or that I wish I’d implemented (hindsight and all that).
Tips for block collection:
- Decide how exacting you need to be. If they don’t follow the rules, will you still use the blocks or will you refuse them? Provide a disclaimer about using/not using a block, cutting blocks apart, restructuring them, etc.
- Be very, very clear about block size. Give unfinished size for best results.
- If it matters to you, specify an ink color to use for signing.
- Be prepared to adjust your vision if you design the quilt before receiving all of the blocks.
- Set a deadline and be firm. Make sure to publicize the deadline clearly.
- If people donate materials to finish the quilt and you intend to return anything that is unused, keep track of who sends what. Or, consider passing on the rest to the quilt recipient if she is also a quilter.
- Provide a visual guide when specifying something like “light gray” or “channel Jane’s style”.
Somehow, almost 50 members were able to keep this completely secret from the recipient, and she was completely surprised when we presented it at our December meeting. I call that a success!