Quilters get crafty for Christmas

The Modern Quilt Guild of Martha’s Vineyard pieces together holiday cheer.

A finished santa ornament. —Stacey Rupolo

The community room in the back of the Oak Bluffs library was abuzz with chatter one Saturday in November during the library’s monthly Sew Much Time quilting class. Ladies walked back and forth between sewing machines and cutting mats, strips of red fabric flapping in their hands and pins poking out between pursed lips as they tried to figure out how to “paper piece.”

Paper piecing is a quilting technique where fabric is stabilized by being sewn together onto a paper pattern to maximize accuracy when dealing with small or difficult angles. The paper is later removed and the remaining construction — whether highly complex or very basic — achieves a precise design with sharp corners and flawless intersections, although it takes lots of practice and skill to achieve that level of craftsmanship. The art of paper piecing relies on proper measurement and calculation to get the image to pop out of carefully sewn edges.

The group was being instructed by Wendy Nierenberg who encouraged sewers as they ran into problems or realized they had sewn their design backward.

“Right sides together, ladies,” she said cheerily as she moved from one person to the next.

Ms. Nierenberg, using all the patience you would expect in a former school teacher, made the complex puzzle of paper piecing as easy a color by numbers.

“Notice these are numbers, not letters,” Ms. Nierenberg said. “And what number do we start with? One…” She continued to count up to four just to drive the point home.

The angular black and white diamond paper patterns seemed to have no relation to jolly ole Saint Nick, but throughout the afternoon, Santa materialized in various shades of red and tan fabric. The joyous bunch, which meets weekly as the Modern Quilt Guild at the West Tisbury library, continued to craft well into the afternoon, with enough holiday cheer to make the biggest Grinch pick up some fabric and start sewing.

For more information contact Katherine Long at (508) 693-6065 or mvquiltkat@gmail.com. Sew Much Time meets at the Oak Bluffs Library on the first Saturday of the month.