Hanging Together

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Have you ever worked on a group quilt? I’ve participated in several, and take it from me–it’s a great experience. A couple of the projects I’ve been part of have even gone to big shows, but none has ever been as successful (or as fabulous) as Ms. MacDonald Had a Farm. Everything about the TQL February centerfold is remarkable, from the realism and detail to the totally unexpected color choices.

If you’ve participated in a group quilt project, though, you know there can sometimes be trouble in paradise. When we were putting the February issue together, we asked Bonnie Keller and Audrey Prothero to tell us how the group Hanging by a Thread (HBAT) avoids the pitfalls. Here are their tips for hanging together:

1. Be democratic. HBAT makes many decisions by brainstorming first and then voting. For instance, about 25 different names for the animal quilt were suggested. “We had a primary vote and then a general election. Ms. MacDonald won,” says Audrey. Votes have decided everything from the name of the group to the color of quilting thread.

2. Don’t let money come between friends. After Hanging by a Thread (the portrait quilt) won several cash prizes, the group appointed a treasurer and put the winnings in a bank account. They draw from the account for materials, to enter shows, and pay for quilt shipping. All prize money goes right back into the account. When Ms. MacGregor retires from showing, the group will decide whether to divide the money in the account or to use it to make another quilt.

3. Keep it positive. Bonnie says, “We are a very diverse group, but we get along very well for several reasons: we don’t talk about politics, we don’t argue religion, and we don’t moan about the state of the world.”

I think they are probably all pretty nice people, too. Nadine Sanders, who moved to Minnesota in 2010, really misses her friends in HBAT and says, “I’ll never find a group quite like this again.” There’s something else she wants us to know. “Many of the women in HBAT put in hundreds of hours helping the Boistfort community after a big flood in Lewis County a few years back. They served endless meals at the Boistfort Grange. They really care.”…Jan Magee, The Quilt Life

Kitten detail from Ms. MacDonald Had a Farm, 82 x 85 inches, by Hanging by a Thread
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