The winning group quilt, Star Shower, was made by members of the Piecepatchers Bee and was quilted by Suzanne Irving. They received $1,000 from Sponsor, Yazzii International Pty Ltd.
Sometimes it is hard enough to individually work on a quilt let alone work on a design with lots of other quilters. In the case of Road to California 2019’s Best Group Quilt, Star Shower, it involved 16 quilters to make this winning group quilt!!
The Piecepatchers Bee has been in existence for about 25 years. The pattern for Star Shower was designed by Bee member, Evelyn George, as a fundraiser for Quilt For a Cause, Inc., a Tucson-based non-profit that sells and auctions donated quilts and patterns to help fight breast and gynecologic cancer. It took the group nearly a year to complete this winning group quilt.
The Piecepatchers Bee has made several group quilts in the past. When they start out to make a group quilt, they make kits, and each member makes several of the blocks. A few members will work together to assemble the top, and another member will do the binding and sleeve. Working with the red fabrics was tricky. The group learned that even after prewashing all the reds 4 or 5 times, there was still one fabric that bled, and had to be replaced.
Although the group is made up of accomplished quilters, for the first time, they asked a prize-winning quilter, Suzanne Irving, to quilt their project because they felt “the quilting needed to be very special.” And special it was as the quilt became a winning group quilt!!
In addition to being a quilter, Suzanne also serves on the Board for Quilt For a Cause, Inc.. She had previously offered to quilt any pattern samples, raffle quilts or vintage quilt tops that people wanted to donate. When the quilt top for Star Shower was handed over to her to be quilted, she really wondered what “she had gotten herself into this time!!!” Suzanne shared, “I’m a very traditional quilter and have never done any type of quilting with all that negative space. Since the 7 largest stars represent the Big Dipper, I knew there had to be a moon, sun, and shooting stars…. but there was still a whole lot of space to fill in!! I didn’t panic, I just went right to Google for inspiration and made up a bunch of imaginary “space junk.”
The prize money for the winning group quilt, Star Showers, was donated to Quilt For a Cause, to help women facing cancer. Nearly everyone in the group has lost a friend or family member to breast or gynecological cancer. They felt inspired to donate some of their best work to this group because it is run by non-paid volunteers, and almost all the funds raised go directly to support their mission.
The next projects for the Piecepatchers Bee are a collectibles quilt, a kimono quilt and a flip flop quilt. They are using a variety of pattern sources, and all of the quilts will first be entered in the Tucson Quilt Fiesta and then will be donated to Quilt For a Cause for their next auction. The group will also be making quilts for other charities supported by the Tucson Quilters Guild, such as Habitat for Humanity.
As for Suzanne, she recently made her first “art quilt” and quilted a “modern quilt” for the Tucson Show last February. Suzanne said, “This is about as far away from the traditional quilts that I love dearly. They will either be hilariously bad, or amazingly good! My mantra last year was “low-key” and that seemed to work really great for me. I’ve been struggling with the one for this year but it just came to me “Go With the Flow”….and keep laughing the entire way!”