Quilt by Association

Quilt by Association

Can quilting be modern?

The answer is a resounding yes for the Shoreline CT Modern Quilt Guild, meeting every first Thursday of the month on the second floor of Guilford’s Nathanael B. Greene Community Center. A chapter of the national Modern Quilt Guild, it was founded in October 2019 by Amy Shelton and Cherie Toman, who’d found each other at a local quilting class. When everything was closed during the pandemic, the guild continued to meet outside on the Guilford Town Green, even in winter.

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Yale School of Music

I could feel that level of commitment at this month’s gathering, where nearly every seat at the U-shape of tables was filled. “Attendance is consistently like this. I thought at one point that we should cap it. We want to keep things closely knit,” Toman says, although it appears anyone can still join as long as they complete and submit a membership form and pay annual dues of $50. Before the meeting, one member worked on pulling the loose threads of a blue design while another sketched in a notebook. A finished quilt with a loose motif of nested squares in pink, turquoise and a floral pattern was folded neatly by the front table, a raffle item made collectively by guild members. “I have to win it for my granddaughter,” one member told me in a hushed voice.

Proceedings then began with a meticulous discussion of guild business followed by announcements. A member seated in the corner announced next month’s meeting theme: “UFOs and how to get organized.” Sensing my confusion, a member across from me leaned in to whisper, “Did they tell you that UFOs are unfinished objects?”

After announcements, it was Sew and Tell time. Behind every quilt is a story of effort, artistry, intention, technique. The first presenter, who had also made her own handbag, showed colorful stars on equally colorful squares inside a royal blue border—the first quilt she ever constructed, sewn while she was “nesting and pregnant with her daughter.” The next presenter had made her pointillist-style quilt during the pandemic while on monotonous Zoom calls. Another showed quilts inspired by notable artworks, another a “cherry quilt” with horse portraits, a project for Quilts 2 Heal. One presenter demonstrated how she uses her head lamp, proclaiming its utility for hand stitching quilts at night as the LED light sent a blinding beam across the room.

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Foote School

After Sew and Tell, it was time for the demonstration portion of the evening, this month focused on the art of Zentangles. I asked a member named Dee to explain the concept. “It’s when you draw different lines in different shapes. People find it comforting and calming I guess. My dad always used to doodle while on the phone,” she says. Dee grew up with Toman and recalls their early days of collaborative quilting. “At age 10 Cherie and I made our first quilt. We raided my parents’ closet, cut up dresses, and sewed the garments together,” confessing quietly that “this is my first guild.” Toman, for her part, says, “I learned to sew from my mom. It’s my happy place.”

As we were guided through the Zentangles experience, one member quipped, “We aren’t gonna psychoanalyze these later, right?” While the exercise might not seem directly related to quilting, the focus, patience and creativity it fosters undoubtedly aligns. “It makes you forget about everything else,” one member reflected while drawing intricate lines.

And of course, it might give members ideas for their next quilts.

Shoreline CT Modern Quilt Guild
Meeting on 1st Thursdays at the Nathanael B. Greene Community Center – 32 Church St, Guilford (map)
Website | Contact

Written and photographed by Lindsay Skedgell.

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