Group Quilting Ideas

Compliled by Clare L

Thanks to all who responded to my recent plea for ideas for a guild to make a quilt to raffle.


From: Betsy

I belong to a group that makes baby quilts for the ABC Quilt Project. We also put together large tops to sell at the bi-annual raffle at the church. Although our quilts are mostly tied (it's lots faster), we do work with several people at a time at a floor frame. When we first put the quilt in the frame we can fit 2-3 people at each side. As we tie and work toward the center the people sitting on the sides that are getting rolled up can still work, but the ones on the shortened sides have to drop off. By the time we are done we are down to about 4 people working.
As for making the top itself: you might arrive as some consensus about a color scheme, buy enough fabric to make blocks and then give each person enough for one block. That way you could have a sampler quilt where the blocks would be at the difficulty level of the individual quilter. When the blocks were done one or two people could sash them together.


From: Jan

The first thing that comes to mind re: your group quilt for the church is blocks with Bible-related names. At least one quiltnetter has a whole string of 'em -- names of blocks, that is. You might ask that more specific question of the whole group.

I remember some like:

Crown of Thorns
Cross Within a Cross
Garden of Eden
Eye of God
Jacob's Ladder
Joseph's Coat
Children of Israel

I know that Garden of Eden and Eye of God are pretty easy to piece. If you have people who prefer to applique, there are lots of wonderful rose patterns around called Rose of Sharon.


From: Diana

Several years ago a friend and I coordinated a group raffle quilt for our guild. We chose to do a sampler quilt and used Georgia Bonesteel's lap quilting method. Those who wanted to do a block were given a pattern (we had them in a range of "degrees of difficulty") and a packet of fabrics for piecing, a square of batting and the backing (muslin). Each person pieced and then quilted the block and returned it to us and we assembled them with lattice strips. The finished product was beautiful, but I'm not sure I would recommend the entire process! Assembling the blocks was quite a chore due to the variations in size of the finished (quilted) blocks.

So, based on this experience I would suggest doing the following: Choose block patterns and fabrics for a sampler quilt;
Have the participants piece a 12 1/2 in. block and return it to you (or whoever is in charge of assembling the top.
Then, I would suggest you add muslin borders around each block, then "square up the blocks" to a 14 1/2 in square. Then you can easily assemble the quilt top with lattice strips or with blocks on point and add your borders. This will assure a much easier and much more accurate (square) top.

As for quilting the top, you could ask each person to quilt the block they pieced and a section of the border. I have worked with two people on a Q-Snap floor frame and that was fine. You could also probably set up two Q-Snap floor frames at the same time and have room for at least four or even six people to work on it!


From: Erin

You could do a quilt as you go quilt. Have a central block (suggestion) since it is to be queen sized, then each member would piece or applique a block and quilt it leaving the edges unfinished (with no stitched closer than 1/2 in from edge).

After all of the blocks are finished, or as they are finished depending on how you choose, the top seams are sewn together then the back seams are slip stitched together.

We recently did two quilts for the retiring principal and one of the teachers at the school my kids attend. They turned out beautifully!


From: Mary

One tip I can contribute: have 1 person make the templates and cut the fabric. No matter how careful you caution members to be, if you let everyone cut their own block(s), you will find big variations in finished block size. I learned this the hard way! Good luck!


From: Sandra

Our club of 30-40 members has put on 3 shows over the last 5 years and all of our proceeds go to charity in return for which the village lets us use a room in the Civic Center.

Our last quilt was the easiest of all that we tried, especially in terms of completion. Each member was given white background fabric and medium grey backing fabric. Our only instructions were to make a 12.5" basket block of our choice, then quilt it. The blocks were varied and wonderful. No matter what the skill level, the combination of the ornate with the simple was wonderful.

We actually made 2 blocks. One we quilted for the raffle quilt and one we left unquilted for a drawing for all of those who made a block.

The blocks were joined with the medium grey as sashing and binding and white triangle blocks on the outer edge. There were a lot fewer hassles with completing it than we've had in the past.


From: Pat

Wow, you're on a close deadline, but I think you can do it, based on the experience of my guild. Some thing the Charlottesville Area Quilt Guild has done:

1. Pick 2-3 people to be the raffle quilt committee. (You should be one.) The committee decides arbitrarily on the theme (stars, flowers, or one particular block, like "Bear's Paw), and the colors to be used.

2. A good way to pick a color scheme and provide continuity is for the committee to choose a print they love! Then choose a coordinating color that goes with the print. Arbitrarily!

3. Make kits in plastic ziploc bags. Include 15 square inches of each fabric in the bag along with a xeroxed sheet of rules which the committee chooses. Sample rules: Participants must use both fabrics in any amount and in any way, along with up to 3 more fabrics, in a 12.5" flower block, either pieced or appliqued. Blocks must be returned by (3 month's time? ) on x date, where they will be displayed while refreshments are served. Informal voting on everyone's favorite. Winner to receive a token: fat quarter, or leftover fabric, etc.

3. Sell these kits to would-be participants for $3-$5. each. This covers the cost of the materials. Get everyone excited by telling them they may not be the world's best quilter, but surely they can make one block! ( I forgot - in the rules state whether blocks must be hand-pieced or if machine piecing is OK.)

4. After display night, the committee immediately sets the blocks together. You probably should solicit ideas for the setting, and may have to purchase more fabric. With your timetable, you should aim at having the whole top pieced by Jan.1. If it needs more oomph, perhaps someone(s) good at applique cold add a border vine at this point. Maybe not!

5. Baste it on a guild night: after all, every one can baste!

6. Either the committee or someone appointed by them should now take charge of the quilt, bringing it to every guild meeting. Yes, 4 people can work around a Q-Snap frame, though it is easier to do background quilting that way. In between guild meetings, different people should sign it out of a record book and take it home for 2 or 3 days to work on alone. They should know before they take it home who to give it to next: the next person who has signed it out, the quilt keeper, or the guild itself on a meeting night.

7. Get everyone to participate by reminding them that someone is going to win this quilt for $1.00, and surely their quilting is worth $1.00!

8. Take lots of pictures of different stages of the construction and display them at church. People who take raffle books to sell should also have a photo to show.

9. I forgot! Committee also decides on quilting design for sashing, alternate blocks, or borders and marks them. These may have to be refreshed from time to time. Let each quilter quilt unmarked blocks anyway she chooses. A quilter need not quilt her own block.

10. (If the blocks are slightly offsize, and they probably will be, frame each finished block with 1" fabric strips, all the same color, before setting together. Fudge the width of the strips to bring the blocks to uniform size.)

11. Finally, plan a guild party for right after the auction, because you will all be feeling a sense of loss when someone carries it off!


From: Ruth

Individual blocks lend themselves well to group work, as long as people are extremely careful to be sure that the blocks all come out the same size! You choose a theme, such as trees, a season, or a particular block for all to do, such as bears paw, grandmothers fan, or whatever. Or, do a sampler quilt with each member picking a different block. Buy at least the sashing fabric and one or two of the block fabrics in bulk and pass out to all members making blocks, so the blocks will be coordinated.

If they DON'T all come out the same size, try edging each one with a narrow sashing, then trim all the sashings to be the same size, before actually sashing the blocks and attaching them to one another. This inner sashing tends to disguise different size blocks and allows them to go together more smoothly.

We do quilt around a large q-snap floor frame and two to four people work at a time, at the back of our meetings. WE also have a basting party at someone's home, and pass the quilt, a week to each member (approx.) for quilting purposes.


From: Pat

It sounds like a simple block will work best for you. An Ohio star is nice and easy. A two color theme like blue and white is easy. You can then buy a fabric to do sashing. We've passes quilts around to be hand quilted and also brought the quilt to the regular and charity meetings. good luck....


From: Anne

Our quilt guild has found that blue sells best. Also, applique quilts seem to be more popular that pieced. They're easier to put together, too, since you don't have to match blocks. Just cut the applique background blocks a little big and then trim them all to match before putting the top together.


From: Sandra

If you're going to be raffling the quilt to non-quilters, then a traditional design will usually sell best...Ohio Star, Log Cabin have both proven to be big ticket sellers for our guild.

And a blue &white color scheme also usually sells very well.


From: Sylvia

Good luck on your project. Sounds like you've got a good group and enough time to get your quilt done. Here are some suggestions I'd like to offer. They come from personal experience and the comments of some of the more than 800 quilters who participated in The Great Minnesota Quilt-In my committee of eight organized for the state two years ago (it was a project of Minnesota Quilters, Inc., our state guild).

Colors: keep it simple. Blue and white, red and white or deep green and white make striking quilts with classic appeal.

Think of organizing some of your work assembly style - this might help make use of everyone's capabilities. Some who may be new to quilting can focus on rotary cutting, others can piece blocks, others can assemble blocks and sashing, etc.

A challenge will be to make sure all the blocks prove *true* (are the same size) for assembly. Here's where some of your more experienced, and accurate, quilters can help your new ones learn how to get a real 1/4" seam.

Consider a simple pattern. It will make life easier for everyone. A double 9-patch can be dynamite in a larger quilt. Then you can focus on the quilting to make your raffle quilt spectacular.

I've used the standing Q-snap frame with several people around it and it worked just fine.

If I can be of any other help, let me know. Good luck. And congrats on that quilt you made yourself and which earned nearly $3,000 for your church. You must be a terrific quilter! Happy Quilting, and May the Stash be With You!


From: Mary Ann

Hi, I just organized a group quilt for America Online for a raffle quilt. I set the rules as follows- it was a nautical theme and there was to be a bit of teal in the blocks. People could pick as simple or as difficult pattern as they liked. I also volunteered to send patterns to people that needed one. You could also do Bible blocks (there are a couple of new books out on that &I've got 2). A star quilt could be do- able. Hope this helps!



This is the way the MVQC plans a group quilt to be raffled. The Vice President is in charge, she selects a helper. They plan the quilt. -- Pattern and Color, figure yardage and buy the fabric I would suggest pieced and not too many pieces, unless you have a fine group of appliquers! and color go with the population likes, not necessarily personal preference. (We have used Katie's Choice and Turkey Tracks and colors have been pinks, greens, blues, reds)

Then, sub-committees are formed, such as the marking committee, the raffle committee, and the putting it together committee.

Well, The marking committee, marks and cuts the quilt. Usually assembly line style, on a day everyone can meet, with loads of room to work and goodies to eat! (Goodies are the draw) Someone cuts, someone marks, someone bags. The marker needs to put accurate lines, because as you know, this is the secret to success. Then the pieces are bagged, preferably in zip lock bags with thread to match, cut in lengths and tied with a twist tie and most important a pattern, with simplistic directions. When packets are complete, they are distributed at the meeting, and discussion follows so everyone who takes a bag understands the technique this is essential. The blocks are due back in one month. We meet once a month. If someone can't get the block done, they need to pass it to someone else or contact the Vice President.

The assembling committee then meets and same as the marking committee, they agree on a date and place and goodies and in assembly line fashion, put the blocks together. When the top is together, it is brought to the meeting and put on the club frame The next meeting the quilt is basted, usually during the meeting and the regular program is dispensed and the basting continues, along with socializing and of course goodies. The basting is done in shifts and goes well. Sign ups for the hand quilting are taken on a piece of paper which is passed around.

The marking committee meets one more time to mark the quilting lines and the first person on the list is called to begin the process of and quilting. After the list is exhausted, other creative ways to quilt the quilt are arranged! Such as the raffle committee, then makes plans to have the quilt set up in the middle of the MALL on a Saturday and/or Sunday and sell tickets, while volunteers sit in shifts and quilt around the frame. A great way to kill two birds with one stone. Alot of tickets are sold, the public loves it and it is fun! Everyone must talk about the fun! It truly is too!

At the end of the day, all that is left is the binding, and either the Vice President or some volunteer puts the binding on, and pictures are taken of the quilt, like a whole roll, of 36 and double prints (72 pictures) Raffle committee assemble envelopes with tickets and one picture and every member is asked to sell 10 tickets. Some sell more, some less, but the pictures really sell the tickets.


Mark even if done on sewing machines, because as we know, a quarter inch in not a quarter inch. We once made a flying geese quilt that was a disaster because it was not marked and several sewed using their own quarter inch mark!

We once made an applique quilt and that was godawful because the inexperienced people shouldn't have appliqued, but done something else. That was the quilt that also had mysterious a cigarette burn in it!

THIS year, we did a Hawaiian applique quilt, that was part of a program we had, enough blocks were generated and donated so, we had our basis and avoided all this marking, cutting etc.

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