Lake Superior Sunrise by the Lake Superior MQG

By Alane Davis

Lake Superior Sunrise is an original design created by me (Alane Davis) as our guild's entry in to the 2018 QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge. Upon seeing the color palette for the challenge at a guild meeting, I was immediately inspired to create something that depicted the gorgeous sunrises over Lake Superior.

The city of Duluth sits directly upon the great lake's shore. The lake is an important part of every aspect of a Duluthian's life, including the day's weather, income and recreation.

Besides the beauty and color of Lake Superior sunrises, the design was also inspired by the Challenge topic "Modern Traditionalism". From the beginning, the design incorporated the unique parts of traditional crazy quilts and modernized them.

In the past, our guild has had some difficulty in getting many members to participate in the creation of a charity quilt. As often happens the work usually falls to a dedicated few. With that in mind, I strove to create a design that was easy for even a beginner quilter to sew, allowed for improvisation and was adaptable.

To this end, the Superior Sunrise block was born. It is a foundation pieced block measuring 6"x 12". The design is very forgiving in that there are no seams to match. The blocks can be rotated and seamed together in whichever way the maker chooses to create completed 12" square blocks. In this way the design is meant to involve a good deal of structured improvisation.

Using the designated color palette a selection of fabrics from designer Alison Glass were chosen for their vibrancy, range of color and saturation. For our quilt, each color in the palette is made up of many different fabrics in order to add and mimic the fragmented light of a Lake Superior sunrise.


After the fabrics were chosen the guild held a cutting and kitting party. Each fabric was pre-cut into strips and triangles. I had created a diagram of the quilt with suggested color placement, but instructions were given that the diagram was NOT to be followed to a "T". A kit was created foreach block out of a number of different fabrics.

The guild held a succession of sew-ins where the basics of foundation piecing were taught. Each quilter was set free to construct the block with the fabrics given in their kit, in whatever color order they preferred. This is where the magic happened. The improvisational nature of this construction method allowed for the quilt to take on a community-made quality rather than being an exact replication of a specific design.

Once all of the blocks were pieced, they were laid out in a grid formation. The nature of the 6"x12" blocks allowed them to be rotated, moved and placed in position to create the light and color-fragmented effect inherent in the design.

After the top was assembled, LSMQG member Scott Lunt quilted it with an overall ruler design of his own creation. It is a fantastically modern diversion from traditional crazy quilting. The diagonal lines highlight the design beautifully, enhancing the impression of light moving across the sky.

After the quilting was complete LSMQG President, Ruthann Grace, created a spectacular scrap pieced binding which was placed to extend the quilt colors off the edges. The fact that the colors are breaking beyond the confinement of the quilt's borders further modernizes the crazy quilt tradition and mimics the powerful beauty of our Lake Superior Sunrise.

This quilt was a community project that successfully carried out the intention of the original  design, but even more brought us even closer as a guild, strengthened our talents and truly reflects the work of many hands. We wouldn't change a thing!

To learn more about the Lake Superior MQG, visit their website or Instagram @lakesuperiormqg.

Lake Superior Sunrise

Lake Superior Sunrise

Cheyann Neades