That’s right—it’s finished and ready to travel! This patriotic quilt features Civil War reproduction fabrics in a log cabin design, and is 90” x 90” in size. It was designed by our own guild member, Becky Swick, and was constructed by herself and many members of the Metropolitan Patchwork Society. The only thing missing for this masterpiece is the explanation of how it came to be. So a quick call was made to Becky last week and the following is the story of Star Spangled Cabins:
Becky has always designed her own quilts because 1.) she wants her own “take” on her quilts, and she never wants to make a quilt that someone else has made; and 2.) she has a fascination with patterns and designs. She loves to break down patterns into smaller proportions, play around with them, and then put them back together to see the overall design. She describes herself as an “artist at heart with a penchant for math.”
She was intrigued by the opportunity to design a raffle quilt for the guild, so she volunteered. She wanted a quilt that would be big enough for a bed, but not too big to display on a wall. Because she knew several members of the guild would be involved with the construction of the quilt, she tasked herself to come up with a design that would be conducive for all skill levels. A log cabin design seemed like a good choice.
Becky is a big fan of Judy Martin’s. She appreciates how Judy doesn’t just sell pattern books, but also shares everything she knows about quilting. She enjoys how Judy incorporates stars into her log cabin designs, and she has a technique for cutting the fabric against the grain to minimize block distortion. Becky was further intrigued by Pam Bono who has developed a method of using varied-width strips in her log cabins which create circles within the her beautiful quilt designs. She contacted both artists and received permission to use their design techniques in the creation of the MPS raffle quilt.
Once the decision had been made to create a log cabin quilt, Becky began her design process. She drew out her pattern by hand using graph paper so she could get a feel for her overall design. MPS member, Jean Kelly, owns a quilt design software program and offered to help Becky get her design into a workable pattern. When that was accomplished, Becky began auditioning fabrics and making trial blocks.
She decided on a patriotic theme because she feels it speaks to our American pride and, in turn, will speak to many hearts. She built several blocks using blue, white, and gold; but she felt that something was missing, so she added the red to give the quilt more texture and depth. Becky had purchased some Civil War reproduction fabrics several years ago for a future project; but the fabric sat unused. So she decided to use it for this raffle quilt project instead, and she very generously donated all of the fabric used in this quilt!
Now she was ready to present her design for the raffle quilt to the rest of the guild and ask for help in getting it made. Six members volunteered to act as her committee. They were George and Carolyn Bahrman, Susan McGuire, Wilma Kribs, Kay Boswell, and Vickie Rooks. The Bahrmans graciously hosted the work parties in their home, and it was there that the committee set to work cutting fabric and assembling block kits for the 25 guild members that would be sewing the blocks.
Each of the 25 sewists were given a month to put together four blocks each, making a grand total of 100 blocks. After the finished blocks were returned to Becky, it was back to the Bahrman’s home for final construction of the quilt top. The committee set up around the the spacious dining room table to sew the 100 blocks together and border the quilt top. This took several weekends, but they enjoyed a soup and sandwich meal together at each work party.
Once the top was completed, it was time to find a long-arm quilter. Vickie recommended Nancy Stovall, who has a quilting business in Portland. Becky wanted to maximize the negative space in the quilt, and she and Nancy looked through Nancy’s patterns to find the design that would best meet this goal. Nancy was honored to be the chosen quilter for this project; and even though it was short notice, she was able to get the quilting done to meet our deadline. You can see that the quilting is exquisite!
When Nancy was finished, the quilt went back to Becky for the binding, hanging sleeve and labeling. After that, the quilt was ready for its photo shoot. MPS member, Dianne McDonnell, volunteered her husband, Herb, to photograph the quilt; and after some discussion about “staging” and a good amount of weather watching, Cooper Mountain Nature Park was chosen as the location to photograph the quilt. On a beautiful, warm evening in May, Becky and Dianne carried the quilt from place to place in the park, while Herb took pictures and curious onlookers watched.
Is Becky happy with the final design and outcome of the MPS Raffle Quilt? Yes! By cutting the fabrics against the grain and in paying close attention to detail, the quilt went together very well and is square. She is very pleased with the finished product. And she should be–it’s a gorgeous quilt and its good quality is very evident.
But that isn’t the only source of her satisfaction. While she was getting computer software design help, enjoying the comradery of the work parties, working to find the perfect quilting design, and out tromping through fields in search of a good location to photograph the finished quilt, she was also forging new friendships with her fellow quilters (and a photographer). That is an experience she treasures.
Besides being shown at our own guild meetings, the quilt will be travelling to different locations for viewing; and opportunities will be available at each location to purchase raffle tickets. Keep an eye on our website at https://metropatch.com/ for the dates and location information.We are also offering the opportunity to purchase tickets online by credit card through PayPal. You can click this link to purchase tickets and find everything you need to know about this raffle quilt: https://metropatch.com/rafflequilts/rafflequilt2014.html. This is an extraordinary quilt and we are excited to offer everyone a chance at winning it.
Just in case you’re intersted, here are the links to Judy Martin’s, Pam Bono’s, and Nancy Stovall’s websites: