March Madness recap

We collected the fabric, we picked the teams, we set up in the gym. We were ready to rumble.

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March Madness was a fun and frantic day of charity sewing, the best possible way we could have kicked off our guild-wide charity quilting program. We had more than 20 quilters sewing throughout the day using the mountains of fabric donated by our generous members and led by team captains Ashley (Red team) and Beth (Yellow team). As everyone sewed, referee Stella yelled out points like a Hogwart’s professor.

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“Fifteen points for Yellow!” “Forty five for Red!”

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There was pizza for lunch and a great spread of snacks.

And then there were the quilts. Fifteen tops in all, four basted sandwiches and 5 completed quilts (plus one that Tracy finished on Sunday night)! Though the Yellow team pulled out a decisive win, we were all winners, along with the people from Shelter our Sisters and Quilts for Kids who will eventually receive these beautiful quilts.

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Our magnificent hostess Stephanie not only set up the gym with quilts and flowers and extension cords, but she also put together our Cloud 9 challenge blocks into a stunning quilt:

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HUGE thanks to Stephanie and all of the kind people at the LDS church, to Ashley and Beth for their leadership and spirit, to all our quilters and donors, to Caroline for bringing much-needed afternoon snacks and to everyone who sent moral support.

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But I save the biggest thanks for our new VP Stella, who stuffed goody bags, provided tunes, baked goods, served as score keeper and referee, ordered pizzas and won overall event MVP.

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Her Monkey Bread earned unanimous raves, so she wanted to share the recipe (check out a pic on her Instagram):

Monkey Bread!

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans Grands biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 stick melted butter

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease bundt pan with shortening or cooking spray. In shallow bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon.
Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Roll in cinnamon sugar to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts among the biscuit pieces.
In small bowl, mix brown sugar and melted butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate. Try to share.
Optional Mix-ins: chocolate chips, toffee bits, other nuts like almond slivers or pecans, cranberries, raisins – use your imagination!

But WAIT! Our jobs are not done yet. We still have to finish these quilts! If you’d like to chip in with quilting or binding (or if you’ve been looking for a chance to practice on a real quilt), please email or leave a comment. This was an amazing kick off, so let’s keep our charitable quilting momentum going. We’ll be sure to plan another Madness event by the fall at the latest, but we’d love for everyone to take part. We’ll bring tops and sandwiches to the April meeting on the 17th.

And the frosting on the Monkey Bread is that we were interviewed! One of Stephanie’s fellow parishioners and the public affairs director for the church works for All American Crafts, the company behind Quilt Trends Magazine and The Quilter. We’ll see if anything comes of it, but for now we are just so proud of what we can do when we come together, and we can’t wait to get together to sew again.

NJMQG and Friends Retreat 2014

NJMQG @ Crossroads

22 quilters, 1 goal: a fun weekend of quilting!

We had our first retreat March 21-23  at the lovely Crossroads Camp & Retreat Center in Port Murray, NJ. Twenty-two creative spirits, many of us members of NJMQG,  gathered for a weekend of good food, fun, friendship and fiber. Some quilters knitted or crocheted. We had two first quilts completed, and an amazing number of completed projects. Because some projects are surprises, some of the photos will be shared at a later date.

On Friday, our group arrived and got settled.  We had the sewing tables set up in the great room of the Christ Center.  In the middle, we had an area where our group could sit and chat, knit, crochet, or watch a niece in a gymnastics competition. Cutting and ironing was set up in one of the conference room, (a great way to get quilters to move and stretch), and a mini ironing station in one corner of the great room.  While we were pampered by people to cook and do the dishes for us, quilters did what they always do….bring tasty goodies and treats.

IMG_1098Most people were set up and sewing by the time we broke for our dinner. We dined on pizza and salad, with a few quilters sharing wine.  Of course, where there are quilters, there is great food, and we had a mountain of tasty snacks, both sweet and savory, (and even some healthy options!) in between meals.

After dinner, we spent a little bit of time getting to know each other.  The wonderful thing about quilters is that we bond quickly, over one thing or another, and by the end of the weekend, new friends were made, and our creative wells were refilled.

Another feature of the weekend was no planned project.  Everyone got to work on their own pieces, and with no interruptions, except for dining.  It did it seem like we had barely finished one meal when it was time for the next!

 

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Mom/daughter quilting…what could be better?

 

We had three pairs of mother/daughter quilters!  Some of us were early birds, some were night owls, and the center happily accommodated both. On Saturday morning, some sewed, some slept until breakfast.  Each delicious meal was preceded by a whimsically sung grace…perhaps some of the other quilters remember the words, but two of the themes were Addams Family and Superman.  After breakfast, we headed back to our machines, and worked until lunch; it seemed we had just started when dinner was served.  In case you are wondering, the meals were fabulous, and the best part:  not one of us had to plan, shop for, or cook the meal, nor do the dishes afterwards!

 

Betsy Vinegrad demonstrates an easy way to sandwich a quilt

Betsy Vinegrad demonstrates an easy way to sandwich a quilt.

 

I took photos of everyone’s project, and will provide a link to that photo album shortly.  I videotaped Betsy Vinegrad’s sandwich technique that she learned from Master Quilter (yes, this is a true title!) Sharon Schamber, and Mary Kirchoff building her beautiful pieced hexagons with the Hex ‘n More ruler.

We got to know each other a little better, shared tips about quilting, food, life, and laughed a lot.  I’m sure we recruited a few new members for our guild. Everyone who came seemed to enjoy themselves, so we are starting next year with 22 people who wish to come back, schedules permitting.  There is still room for a few more at our next retreat!