The Quilting Tips the Scales


From the landscape, a sense of scale.

From the dead, a sense of scale. –Richard Siken

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.—Phyllis Diller

The injuries we do and those we suffer, are seldom weighed in the same scales.—Aesop

Scales always lie. They don’t make a scale that ever told about value, about worth about significance.—Ann Voskamp

On July 17, 2016 the first meeting of the Niagara Modern Quilt Guild design team for the Quiltcon 2017 Charity Quilt Challenge assembled at Starbucks. Heather, Debbie, Sue, Lorna and Tara, fuelled by caffeine and enthusiasm, quickly settled on our design objectives: broad participation by Guild members of all skill levels, ease of assembly, alternate grid and a modern aesthetic.  Design ideas submitted by guild members and inspiration gathered by team members were all evaluated against the design objectives and MQG challenge to “play with scale”.   Surprisingly quickly,  an improv curved arc in four different sizes was chosen as the base for our design.  Choosing a colour palette was more challenging.  Eschewing the conventional white/grey background options the team settled on Yarrow as the background and dominant colour.  With this striking background, ultramarine, bright blue, pink, silver and white rounded out the chosen colour scheme.

Once the fabric was received—–big thanks to Modern Bee and Kindred Spirits  quilt shops for donating most of the fabric — the team assembled on a hot summer evening in Lorna’s cool sewing room to make up kits for members to take home.  Much laughter, snacking and ideas followed.  Even some patriotic cheering as we watched Canada’s Olympic performances at the same time.  Heather – being the highly organized professional that she is – had drawn up a detailed checklist of the number of kits needed (indeed the checklist was almost as impressive as the Olympics!!)


When our September meeting rolled around, 40 kits were ready to hand out.  Demos were given of two different approaches to improv curved piecing and most of the kits were snapped up by our enthusiastic members.  At our October Saturday Sew-in day, the finished blocks were revealed.  A design wall was hastily improvised and the blocks started to come together into a cohesive quilt.  With the addition of a few extra blocks and lots of negative space, the quilt design was finished.  Heather finished assembling most of the quilt top at home and passed it on to Tara, who squared it up and added some negative space to meet the size guidelines.  A grey crosshatch Carolyn Friedlander fabric was chosen as the backing panel, and the last few unused blocks leftover from the quilt top were incorporated into the backing panel design. In the end, every single block made it into the quilt!

Dorothy Holdenmeyer, one of our very talented members, graciously offered to machine quilt the top. She researched quotes which use the word “Scale”, and  tore into a frenzy of quilt-doodling circles, feathers, loops, arcs, quotations and free-motion magic that danced across the mustard negative space and weaved throughout the colourful arc-shaped piecing of the top. Dorothy used so many of the motifs that dwell inside her head, but ran out of ideas about a quarter of the way through the quilting.  That didn’t slow her down—she began consulting books and electronic resources for inspiration to make admiring our quilt an exploration; a literal adventure in texture.  Many of us stood around the quilt for the entire break in our December meeting, with smiles of delight as we took turns pointing out surprises and discoveries to one another:  “Look at those teardrops!”; “Look!  That’s an awesome quote!”; “Did you see how she quilted the sun!”; “I can’t believe she did that on her domestic machine!”  Seeing the quilt in its completed state was such a reward to the collaborators in this process, and was inspiring to those who didn’t get a chance to participate in this year’s project. At this point in time, Dorothy will be the only member of our guild who will make it to Quiltcon 2017 to see our quilt in all its glory!  How fitting that she already had made plans before she even knew she would have such an important role to play in our quilt’s production!

The quilt, which was named by vote at our most recent NMQG meeting, now answers to “Shockwave”, and she is ready for shipment to Quiltcon.  We are so pleased with the outcome of our guild’s second collaboration for the MQG Charity Project, 2017, and are feeling twitchy to get started on the next project to come in 2018!

Our guild has chosen to donate the quilt to the Niagara Health System for a fundraising raffle.  We hope the winner of the raffle will be as amazed by our creation as we all were.  Who knows… we might even manage to put a few improv curves on the faces of those who benefit from the funds it is sure to raise!


Back of the Quilt
Back of the Quilt


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