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Sixteen years ago, three women shared a road trip to Paducah, Kentucky, to attend an American Quilters Society show. Along the way, they put their creative minds together and came up with the idea to do a round-robin quilt.

“We met a couple other friends while at the show, and invited them to be part of it,” recalls Sue Goeddeke of Harrison Township. “So, there were five of us, originally.” The women were from Michigan, Kentucky, New Zealand, Canada and Thailand. “The lady from Thailand is actually a cousin I met when she and her husband were transferred here for work from Brussels in Belgium.” The small group of quilters began calling themselves Women Without Borders, and their main goal would be to try new techniques and spread their wings as quilt-making enthusiasts.

Over the years, membership grew to more than 20, but due to life situations, some ended their participation. At some point, a man from Australia joined the group, prompting members to change the name to Quilters Without Borders. Greig Wilson traveled all the way to Michigan this past summer to visit members. Along with Goeddeke, other Michigan members are Rose Angelucci (Harrison Township), Michelle Mitchell (Clinton Township), and Gina Kaszynski (Kasco). There are currently nine members total, and they range in age from roughly 40-70.

Wilson says, “I enjoy the comraderie and sheer exuberance we share in our love of patchwork and quilting. We support, encourage and accept one another as we all have our own strengths and weakness within our craft. And although we are scattered wide and far? When we do meet, it is like old friends re-uniting.”

Referring to her four-year membership, Angelucci says, “It helps me raise the bar for my sewing, being with a number of people who are very experienced quilters. I always find it a little challenging to be with them, but it’s a good thing because it stretches my skills.”

The way the round robin works is each member starts a quilt top that is then mailed to another member who gets to keep it for a two-month period, making additions of fabric they select to complement what has already been created. Goeddeke says, “When we do our round robins, we send a diary along with the quilt, and everybody who works on the quilt writes how we came to our design decision, little tidbits about our families, and where we live.”

Members stay connected through Facebook and via phone, and they have made more than 50 quilts since they joined together. “One quilt was 30 vintage fabrics. We all kind of carried it on in that mode,” says Goeddeke.

After the two-month period, each quilt is then put back into the box and mailed on to the next person. This process continues until all the quilt-tops have been worked on by each member. No one knows what their finished quilt will look like until he/she receives it back in the mail. It’s then the responsibility of the owner, or person who started piecing the quilt top, to have the actual quilting done. Goeddeke says she’s quilted some of her smaller quilts on her Bernina (sewing machine), however, she takes the larger ones to a quilter in Richmond, who owns a long-arm quilting machine.

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact Quilters Without Borders at suegoeddeke@wowway.com.

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