Don't Fence Me Out by the Canberra MQG
by Carolyn Goonrey and Coral Brady
After one of the Canberra Modern Quilt Guild’s members had seen so many great charity quilts at the previous years’ QuiltCon, she inspired the Guild to create our own version for 2018. With the theme of modern traditionalism, we wanted to use a base block that we hadn't often seen used in modern quilts. We also wanted a block that everyone in our guild could help with, whatever their experience level in modern quilting.
Guild member Carolyn Goonrey came up with a few designs using the rail fence block. This was refined to the final design, which used space and colour to explore what a fence and boundary means. This theme and block resonated strongly with our guild, as planning regulations in Canberra do not allow front fences. Instead, people find other ways, such as fences made of shrubs, to put in barriers around their houses.
When talking about the theme of fences, we also reflected on the many conversations taking place in Australia around refugees, and the hardline stand that the Australian Government takes. We called this quilt "Don't Fence Me Out" to reflect how we want to be more open and inviting to our neighbours and refugees.
Once the design was finalised, Carolyn set up foundation paper piece patterns. This ensured that regardless of different skills, machines, or seam allowances, the final blocks would all be consistent.
The first group of blocks were made at our annual Canberra Modern Quilt Guild show to demonstrate the work the Guild does. Blocks were also given to interested members to put together. Our September 2017 sewing day had Guild members working hard to finish the remaining blocks. After a final sewing bee weekend at a member’s home, the top was finished.
To keep with the theme, we wanted to quilt “welcome” in different languages that reflect the heritage of our members, as well as the Ngunnawal and Ngambi peoples – the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land where the city of Canberra was built.
These words were then quilted across the quilt, along with straight lines to reflect the borders and boundaries that are around us all. A floral motif was added to represent the Canberra bluebell, the floral emblem of the Australian Capital Territory.
It was great fun working with the guild to pull this together. After being displayed at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena, California, the Guild will use the quilt to support a local charity benefiting refugees.
To learn more about the Canberra MQG, visit: https://canberramodernquiltguild.com/ or @canberramqg on Instagram.