On Feb 8, 2009, the Yahoo group “Yes We Can, Jane” was started by a few quilters who wanted to make a quilt for the newest President of the United States, Barack Obama. We are now nearing the end of our project, as the quilt will be completed within a few months when the hand quilting and binding are finished. The project has been filled with a mixture of emotions, from elation, excitement, joy, friendship, creativity, frustration, competition, and yes, anger. There are probably some feelings I have left out, but all-in-all it has been a pleasurable undertaking.
I’ve been hand quilting for almost two days solid now, and as I let my fingers relax a little, I thought this might be a good time to provide you with a list of suggestions for any future online group endeavor, should you wish to create your OWN group quilt.
1. You will need, at a minimum, 2 moderators for the group. The moderators will serve as leaders and organizers, setting guidelines and deadlines. The moderators should be well-matched, as they will need to lean on each other for the duration of the project. They need not live in close proximity to each other; as ours was an online quilt group, we were connected by email, texts, etc.
2. Before you ever begin, set the timeline, rules and guidelines for the project. While the timelines may be somewhat flexible in scope, the rules and guidelines must be iron-clad.
3. A group quilt needs something to tie it together. In our project, we were able to provide each individual quilter with a piece of fabric from the same cloth (see photo below). Our ivory colored fabric was a donation from a generous individual; if you don’t have a donor, make sure you over estimate the amount of fabric you will need, and purchase accordingly.
4. Since each quilter will probably use his or her own fabric to go with the background fabric to make their block, it is CRITICAL that all of their fabric be prewashed and checked for color fastness. That should be RULE #1.
5. RULE #2 must state that upon mailing finished blocks to the “keeper of the blocks,” a 2.5 or 3 inch square of each of the fabrics used in the block be cut to the predetermined size and be mailed with the finished block. These fabrics will then be used by a member of the team to check for color fastness. This is done by making a small patchwork quilt, alternating the background fabric with every single fabric that has been included in the quilt. Once this small patchwork quilt has been sewn, it should then be tossed into a sink full of very hot water and left to soak for 30 minutes. It is then rinsed, dried, and examined for any dye runs. If any fabrics have not passed the color fastness test, any block with those fabrics should be eliminated without question or guilty feelings. If any quilter does NOT include the sample swatches, their block should also be eliminated without question.
6. Guidelines for quality control must be stipulated. Take time to think about what you want the finished quilt to look like. What color theme? What color style? Traditional? Contemporary? Modern? Civil War? Pastel?
7. Provide all quilters with the basics of applique and piecing. Discuss thread type. discuss size of stitching. NOTE: To eliminate this step is a major mistake, as every quilter on the planet has been taught different techniques or has been self-taught. It is wise to discuss the kind of thread to use. Thread used for hand quilting is NOT suitable for hand applique or for piecing.
8. Determine what jobs are needed for your project. Who will sew the top together when your blocks are completed? Who will receive the mailed blocks? How will the quilt be quilted? Who will quilt it? Do the members of the group need to make afinancial contribution to assist with the quilting or the purchase of the background fabric?
9. Make sure that each block arrives with the full name and address of the maker, their email address, and name of their block. NOTE: It is wise to stipulate that if any quilter does not wish his or her full name to be used in public, this is not a project they should participate in. It is too difficult to bend the rules for some and not for all, and it is hard to keep track of any variations.
10. Take a photo of each block as the envelopes are opened by the “keeper of the blocks.” Each photo should then be assigned a number, and the name of the quilter and the block should go with each photo.
#28 Caron Mosey, Auto Industry.
11. At all times, keep good communication with your group members. Let them know what is going on, share the progress, discuss any issues or struggles, and let everyone have input. Not everyone will agree 100 percent of the time. Be prepared for that! When your project is completed, have a celebration together. In some way, you all need to celebrate your victory.
A group project via an Internet quilting group is a fun activity that will bring quilters together from all walks of life and all parts of the globe. Enjoy the process!
If you have participated in or organized an Internet quilt project, please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and suggestions on the process! We’d love to hear from you!