By Mary Anne Skorpanich, President OCMQG

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PHASE 1. Once we had our design concept of trees, fabric in all the Challenge colors except blue, our background, was divvied up into kits. Our members got kits to sew into “blocks” of various sizes that would be become segments of trees. Guild members volunteered to make “blocks” using improv strip piecing to create a high level of variability in the appearance of the “tree bark,” as would be found in nature. PHASE 2. Now the magic begins. We met at the Batty Lady in Orange, Calif., for two consecutive days to work on assembling the quilt top.


Originally, we envisioned drawing an outline of the trees and fitting the blocks into the composition. We struggled with how to fit in all the different sizes, shapes, and colors of blocks into cohesive trees. After much discussion we quickly adapted our design approach to ‘build trees’ from the blocks first, then arrange the trees to create the composition. It continued to evolve through many, many changes until we hit on our final composition.Plans went from straight trees to curved-pieced trees, from three trees, to an addition of a stubby tree with a broken branch. The next day the plan changed again. Now five trees, do we have one going off the left side? Or not? How many branches should we have? Could some go down rather than all going up? Everyone had their input and it was a sight to see this beautiful quilt take shape.


PHASE 3: Great brainstorming session at our monthly Guild meeting. We generated lots of creative ideas on quilting design and decided against adding any embellishments. One of our awesome members volunteered to long-arm quilt and embroider the label. The binding and pizza team worked together to create a facing-type binding and add the sleeve. Then off to Austin in the mail.Kudos to all the Guild members who contributed to this project! Everyone who participated got to exercise their improv skills, some for the first time. Most of us working on the assembly of the quilt top had never attempted curved improv piecing—once you try it you realize how fun and easy it is.After QuiltCon, New Beginnings will be donated to the Orangewood Foundation, an awesome non-profit that assists foster children and former foster youth after they leave the child protective system.