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The making of the Great American Quilt

What to my wondering eyes should appear but REDS AND WHITES.
What to my wondering eyes should appear but REDS AND WHITES.

It’s a time honored tradition for quilt guilds to make a community quilt to auction off.  In the twenty-four years that the Algonquin Quilt Guild has existed they have faithfully created a quilt about every two years to raise money for the guild operation.  That money goes towards programs for the members to bring in quilting experts, make special projects, learn new techniques, and to keep the guild viable.  The guild every year donates beautiful baby quilts designed and created by its members to Advocate Sherman Hospital’s baby unit.

I will be chronicling the path of The Great American Quilt so you can see how much time and effort it takes for members to create such a beautiful quilt.

Back in October Sue Stanek, a longtime quilter, raised her hand along with Sandy Henke, and me to get going on this year’s project.  I raised my hand because I was curious on the process.  Sue has an arsenal of goodies with years of experience which she brought to the Algonquin Library conference room.  There, laid out on the conference table were the REDS and whites.  My heart about skipped a beat because regardless of the pattern, we were going to be working with a dynamite color scheme.

Red and whites are infamous throughout the quilt universe.  In March of 2011, 650 quilts owned by New York City collector Joanna S. Rose were shown in the Park Avenue Armory sponsored by the American Museum of Folk Art with the show called Infinite Variety; Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts.  The show was all over the internet.  Stunning designs, gorgeous colors, with breathtaking intricate work.

Back in October Sue Stanek, a longtime quilter, raised her hand along with Sandy Henke, and me to get going on this year’s project.  I raised my hand because I was curious on the process.  Sue has an arsenal of goodies with years of experience which she brought to the Algonquin Library conference room.  There, laid out on the conference table were the REDS and whites.  My heart about skipped a beat because regardless of the pattern, we were going to be working with a dynamite color scheme.

Red and whites are infamous throughout the quilt universe.  In March of 2011, 650 quilts owned by New York City collector Joanna S. Rose were shown in the Park Avenue Armory sponsored by the American Museum of Folk Art with the show called Infinite Variety; Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts.  The show was all over the internet.  Stunning designs, gorgeous colors, with breathtaking intricate work.

Sue covered the pattern idea she had which Sandy and I were all over.  Simple design with gorgeous colors from the collections of French General’s Josephine and Minick and Simpson’s Midwinter Reds.  Sue had already made up the directions on how to construct the blocks along with templates.  By this time I am so impressed with Sue’s expertise I knew this was going to be a winner at the guild meeting at the end of January.

Color selection is a process of laying out swatches to come up with the right colors.  There’s also the consideration of the number of blocks to the number of red fabrics you use to balance the quilt out when it comes time to lay out the blocks.  You’ll see toward the end what that really means.  But in the design phase you have to think of what that will look like.

We needed a little color expertise for the “white/cream” background fabric.  We were having difficulty in choosing the appropriate background color or colors – there were lots to choose from.  With a two color theme and the white/cream color being dominate on the sides we needed a color that would go well with the boarder that we were considering.   I put in a call to Pat Mesker who loves this part of the process - picking colors.  Not my forte, I'm a construction girl.

While waiting for Pat, Sandy added two more reds from the Josephine collection that just stole your heart away.  With those newly added reds that helped to make the “white/cream” selection a little easier for Pat and the team.

Boom!  Done.  We’ll be kitting these up for our members to take home to sew the blocks.  We’ll have a timeline with sewing opportunities for all of us to get together.

By the time this is finished, you’ll be dying to purchase a raffle ticket.  Thoughts are to have it available for the Quilt Show held at Countryside Nursery in the fall.  Then you can all come and witness first hand the beauty of a community quilt.

If you are at all interested in joining, it's only $20 and we meet the fourth Thursday of the month at the Congregational Church in Algonquin on Washington and Harrison Streets at 7pm.  We would love to have you join us.   Our new schedule will be up by the end of January on our site.

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