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President's Message

May 2023

President’s Message – May 2023

There is so much going on for the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild.  We have many talented members, not only with their quilting but also coming up with innovative ideas and organizational skills to make them work.  Some are behind the scenes, and some will be mentioned in this message.  I knew we had a great guild, but the longer I am involved as a board member, the more impressed I am.  Oh, and did I mention generous?  Can you believe the SafeHouse Center quilts we keep seeing at each meeting?  It is overwhelming!
The next Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild weekend is coming up May 19-21. I hope to see many of you there.   
May Quilt Weekend (in person and online) – May 19-21
Our speaker and teacher for the May quilt weekend is Michelle Jackson who is known for her portraits. While her workshop “Light the Portrait with Color” is currently full, situations change, and students need to find replacements. If you are interested in her 2-day workshop, get your name on the waitlist. Contact
Michelle’s Saturday May 20th lecture is “The Emotions of Color and How to Use Them.”
Meeting time is 9:00 to 12:00, either in-person at Morris Lawrence Auditorium or via Zoom and includes announcements and show and tell (your creations for yourself and SafeHouse), as well as our featured speaker.  The Zoom invitation will be sent to GAAQG members and non-member ticket purchasers on Thursday before Saturday’s meeting.  Non-members can click here to purchase $10 tickets for the lecture, to attend either via Zoom or in-person. 
Fabric Sale – follows May Quilt Day – May 20
DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR SHOPPING MOJO TO QUILT DAY!  The sale immediately follows our meeting on May 20 (see above).  See our blog post for more details.  Fabric is purchased by volume and non-members are welcome.  
2023 GAAQG Quilt Weekend Programs
Did you know that many of the instructors the Guild brings to you are national award-winning quilters?
This is a great opportunity to learn from the best in a small, friendly environment. It is great to meet new friends while learning something new at an affordable price.
There are still some openings for our September workshops with Audrey Esarey, who is teaching two
workshops: Friday, September 15, a multicolored circular paper piecing project, called “Ultraviolet Radial.” In Sunday’s, September 17, workshop, there is curved paper piecing and partial seaming called “Mobius Radial.” In both workshops a pattern is required for $10.00 and payable to Audrey on the day of class. This is a great opportunity to learn more about these techniques directly from the designer.  Click here to learn more and register.
For the July 15 Quilt Day, our speaker will be Marsha MacDowell,PhD (director, Michigan Traditional Arts Program, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University). MacDowell is the Curator of the Michigan State University Museum.   She will share her knowledge on “African, African American, and African Diasporic Quilt History in a Digital Age.”  Our Garage Sale immediately follows the meeting (see more below).
In November we will have Jane Sassaman in person for two workshops. Jane’s “Leaf Sampler” workshop on November 17th features applique and the use of those decorative stitches we have on our machines yet seldom use.  There are still openings available.  Click here for more information and to register.  In Sunday’s workshop, November 19th Jane will be teaching Abstracting from Nature. This will be a wonderful fun time to explore your creativity in a comfortable setting. This workshop is currently full but, as mentioned above, there is a wait list. Contact if you would like to be added.

The GAAQG Swag is here!  There are T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies, as well as some non-clothing options, all with our new logo.  The link to make a purchase is available on the members page at (requires login). It will take you directly to the Amazon site.  It’s not possible to search on Amazon for our merchandise.  If you have already made a purchase through Amazon, be prepared to show it off at our May 20th quilt day.  I can’t imagine you won’t love it! 

Remembering Jean Coleman

A longtime member of GAAQG, Jean Coleman died Saturday April 29th after a battle with brain cancer. She had home hospice and passed peacefully with her husband holding her hand.

Jean was a very early adopter of long arm quilting and joyfully quilted countless quilts for SafeHouse as well as client quilts. She also designed and demonstrated many free patterns for SafeHouse quilts. Jean was a trusted teacher at many GAAQG Quilt Universities over the years.

GAAQG will make a memorial contribution on her behalf to the MSU Great Lakes Quilt Center.  Click here if you would like to leave a message for her family in the Guest Book on her obituary page at the funeral home.

Guild Summer Retreat
As you know, we have arranged a quilting retreat for June 30 – July 2 at the Creative Passions Retreat Center in Chesaning MI. We have 29 members currently signed up and room for more. There is still time to sign up until May 30.  Since we do have the space, we are allowing members to invite friends and fellow quilters to join us. It will definitely be a “more the merrier” type of event. If you know someone who would like more information, contact Lynne Bryant at Look for more details on the Members page of our website (requires login).
Save the date for our next online SafeHouse Sew-In (Members only)
Our next online Sew-In via Zoom will occur on Saturday, May 13, from 9:00a until noon.  We will send the Zoom link to all members on Thursday, May 11.  This ongoing event has drawn quite a following so mark your calendar and plan on a fun morning.
Volunteer Opportunities
Currently there are several positions that we hope our members will consider volunteering for (unless otherwise noted, contact if you are interested):

  • Social Media Editor (Facebook and Instagram) – We are very much in need of a Social Media Editor to reach not only our members but a much wider audience.  Nico Laudenberg has moved to Germany and can no longer handle the position.  Contact her for more information at
  • Guild Historian – Contact Nancy Finlayson, our long-time guild historian, at for more details.  A fun way to be involved with a minimum of time involved.  
  • Quilt Weekend Presenter Liaisons – Contact Jane Clark, if you are interested in helping with successful quilt weekend arrangements for the presenters and the workshops.  
  • Quilt Day Demo Liaison – Organize short demos to be presented before and after our in-person quilt day meetings.  These can be repeats and/or focused on newer quilters as well as more advanced topics.  
  • Vendor Liaison – Facilitate having a vendor present for sales of their merchandise before and after in-person, quilt day meetings

Garage Sale – July Quilt Day – July 15
Did you love that touch of Spring we had last month? In the mood for spring cleaning? As you go through your sewing space, think of the guild garage sale after the July 15th guild meeting. Set aside sewing items you no longer have use for. Make money for yourself or SafeHouse (you can designate SafeHouse as recipient for proceeds) and help the guild at the same time! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Beverly Darr at
Please check out the GAAQG website for more information about many of the topics I have covered in this letter.  Descriptions of all the 2023 workshops and lectures are available there.  You can also use the website to join the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild if you are not currently a member.  We would love to have you!  
Marge Venema
GAAQG President

March 2023

This is the time of year when we have had it up to here with winter, but the really nice days are pretty far in the future.  Fortunately, as quilters, we kind of look forward to being able to hunker down and stay in the sewing studio.  Recently I have been giving thought to all the positive things being a quilter has brought to my life.  So many relationships have been established because of a shared hobby. I’m sure we all have instances where we meet someone while going about our daily life, then find out they are a quilter.  The connection becomes instant and many times long lasting.  The other day I was with a friend I had connected with in just that way.  We were shopping at a consignment store when I mentioned that I had just seen a woman carrying a clear plastic shopping bag that looked suspiciously like it contained fabric.  My friend took off after the woman and asked about her package.  Turns out there was a quilt store just around the corner.  We had a lovely visit with a bunch of really nice women and bought some fabric.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.  When we tried to tell our husbands about our adventure and why it was so amazing, they did not get it. Oh well. I’m sure most of you readers know exactly how we felt. 
March 17-19 Quilt Weekend (Workshops in person only; Quilt Day in person and online)
The next Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild weekend is coming up March 17-19.  There will be a lot going on and many chances to connect with current sewing friends and make new ones. 

  • Our speaker and teacher for the March quilt weekend is Irene Roderick. Her Saturday, March 18th lecture is “Dancing with the Wall.”   
  • Meeting time is 9:00 to 12:00 at Washtenaw Community College in the Morris Lawrence Building and includes announcements, show and tell, and our featured speaker.  The Zoom invitation will be sent to GAAQG members on Thursday before Saturday’s meeting.  Non-members can purchase tickets for the lecture here
  • Look for your discount coupons to Seven Sisters Quilt Shop. These will be at the sign in table at the Quilt Day Meeting.
  • Also, look for a sign-up table for the upcoming GAAQG Members Quilting Retreat, June 30-July 2, 2023.  Members have received a previous email giving all the details for this new GAAQG adventure.  NOTE: Registration deposits are due on March 30 to Creative Passions.
  • Irene’s 2-day workshop is sold out and registrants will receive an email message with all details.  For questions and to check for late cancellations, please contact:
  • We will have 70” x 90” battings available for SafeHouse quilts for member pick-up at a table in the atrium at our Quilt Day meeting.  We have a couple of larger battings (90 x90) if you have a SafeHouse quilt larger than 60 x 80. To ensure we will have one for you, please email your request to
  • Great Lakes Heritage Quilters will display and sell tickets for their raffle quilt at the March meeting as well.

In Person Safe House Sew-in – March 18 (Members Only)
It is time to start the in-person SafeHouse Sewing Events again!  They are fun afternoons of cutting, sewing, camaraderie and renewing friendships or making new friends while working on quilts for SafeHouse.
The first one will be held after our Quilt Day meeting on March 18, starting about half an hour after the meeting ends and running until 4:00p.m.  You can stay the whole afternoon or any part of it.  It will be in the Morris Lawrence building, classroom #101.  The Guild will provide irons and ironing boards, and power strips at each table.  We will not have kits ready for this first one, but there will be a bin full of 2 1/2” strips and SafeHouse fabric donations available for you to use and a few easy patterns to get you started.
There are many ways you can contribute to this effort—by bringing your sewing machine and a project you want to work on, bring a cutting mat and tools to cut pieces to make a “kit” for someone else to put together, or just come and spend a little time doing the ironing for someone who is cutting or sewing.  Or you can contribute some of those pieces of fabric that you just can’t find the right project for, or those orphan blocks (we all have them!) or ideas for quick and easy quilts to make.
Please plan to join the fun and connect with fellow quilters while working for a wonderful cause!

Virtual SafeHouse Sew-in (Members Only)
Part of our Guild Mission is to support the residents of SafeHouse Center of Ann Arbor.
Many of our members have joined a small virtual group that meets on one Saturday each month. We Zoom our gathering from 9am to 12 noon. The next meeting will be on March 25.

Upcoming 2023 GAAQG Quilt Weekend Programs (see full descriptions and register on our website ‘Workshops’ page.)
In May, Michelle Jackson is teaching about creating portraits with fabric.  This workshop requires a 2-day commitment and is currently sold out.  If this is a workshop you are interested in, contact to get on the waitlist.
The July meeting lecturer is Dr. Marsha MacDowell (director, Michigan Traditional Arts Program, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University).  She will share her knowledge on “African, American, and African Diasporic Quilt History in a Digital Age.”
September brings us Audrey Esarey.  There are still a few openings in both of her workshops.  Ultraviolet Radial and Mobius Radial.  Register sooner than later to have this wonderful opportunity.
Jane Sassaman joins us for November.  Her Leaf Sampler workshop has openings, and her Abstracting from Nature has a wait list.
Register on the GAAQG website!
Fabric Sale – May 20 Quilt Day
Don’t forget that we will be going back to the regular May meeting for the Fabric Sale. It is time for some Spring Cleaning! Bust through your stash and contact Roberta at for a pick up or delivery instructions.
Garage Sale – July 15 Quilt Day
It seems like winter will never end but spring cleaning will be upon us in no time. As you clean your sewing space, think about the guild garage sale after the Quilt Day meeting on July 15 and set aside to sell anything you no longer have use for. Make money and help the guild at the same time! If you have any questions, contact Beverly Darr at
Webmaster News
The Members Page (requires member login) contains all member information.
For example, if you know someone who would enjoy a particular lecture or is looking for design inspiration, the Be My Guest card is a great way to introduce them to the guild. Members may print the Be My Guest card for two non-members to enjoy free admission to a Quilt Day meeting. Or, if you know a non-member who can’t attend the meeting in person, they can still enjoy the online version.
SafeHouse Center quilt labels with the new logo are available as a printable PDF for inkjet printers on the Members SafeHouse Center page. An order of commercially printed labels should arrive for distribution at the March Quilt Day meeting.
The web team invites feedback on the refreshed site. Suggestions, updates, or corrections are always welcome.  Contact
Please check out the GAAQG website for more information about many of the topics I have covered in this letter or to join the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild if you are not currently a member.  As you can see, there is a lot going on.  
Marge Venema
GAAQG President

January 2023

Happy New Year! Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild is off and running for another year. With all the efforts that are putting into our guild, 2023 should be as successful and eventful as 2022. are beginning new positions at this time of year, as am I. It is inspiring to see how devoted our  are to making the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild as good as it can be.

As I was reviewing documents that came to me as the incoming guild president, I kept seeing the guild’s objectives listed again and again. The start of a new year seems like a good time to see them again:

  • To promote and preserve the art of quilting, patchwork, applique, and related fiber arts.
  • To sponsor workshops, lectures, displays, projects, and occasions for friends to meet for fellowship.
  • To engage in charitable efforts deemed advisable by the membership. How can it get any better than that?

January Quilt Weekend (online only)

Our speaker and teacher for January 20th, 21st and 22nd is Brenda Gael Smith, who resides in Australia. Saturday, January 21, 2023, Brenda Gael Smith, will present a lecture titled “Driven to Abstraction.”  can purchase tickets here for the lecture. Meeting time is 9:00 to 12:00 and includes announcements and show and tell, as well as our featured speaker.

Please note that a special feature of this Quilt Day meeting is the ‘launch’ of our new guild website during the business meeting. A detailed description is provided below.

GAAQG’s New Website

The guild’s website makeover is nearly complete! WordPress no longer supports the template we have been using since 2015, requiring a refresh. Mary Beth Donovan, Noreen Walker, and Heather Barthell have worked to streamline navigation, update the color palette, and make content easier to find. Pages created by other software like PMPro, Ecwid (online store), and EventON (calendar) will not be affected by the new theme.

January 16 is the scheduled transition date. We will post a page declaring a maintenance window is in effect and no one will be able to use the website until the transition is complete. If your membership is expiring around that time, please renew now to avoid any hurdles for the Quilt Day lecture or workshops, which are all by Zoom. No workshop registrations can be processed while the transition is taking place.

Check your expiration date by logging into the current guild site. From the Member Resources page go to the link to access your Your expiration date displays on your card.

On January 21, we will reveal the new website during the business portion of the Quilt Day agenda, along with a quick tour of the major changes. The webmasters want to hear your feedback! Feel free to email with any questions you want answered during the presentation. They also want to hear about your current user experience to be sure they keep what you like and address what you don’t like.

SafeHouse Quilts 

In 2022 guild created and donated 301 quilts for SafeHouse Center. During the July Quilt Show, SafeHouse sold a total of 15 donated quilts to raise $4,814. This also was an opportunity for SafeHouse staff to discuss their mission to in-person attendees. The online quilt sale in late 2022 generated $7,200 for SafeHouse from the sale of 23 donated guilts. The total 2022 guild contribution was $12,014 to SafeHouse Center. The guild is certainly achieving its third objective.

Many of our  have joined a small virtual group that meets on one Saturday each month. We Zoom our gathering from 9am to 12 noon. The next Sew-in will occur on January 28 and a Zoom invitation will be sent to guild  We will also be able to meet in person after our March meeting. This is a great way to interact with other guild 

We will have 70” x 90” battings available for SafeHouse quilts for  at our in-person meeting on March 18. To ensure we will have one for you, please email your request to

March Quilt Weekend (hybrid format)

March’s presenter will be Irene Roderick. Her Saturday lecture is “Dancing with the Wall.”

Irene is trained as a painter, and she has always been interested in pattern and color and how these elements can evoke emotional and political responses. When she began, she did not know what was going to happen but created through trial and error, literally dancing between the wall, the cutting mat, the sewing machine, and the iron. Through this act of making, she has learned to embrace the joy of creative intuition, spontaneous expression, and a blind trust in process.

Workshop sales are going well and we are now opening registration to non- for remaining spots. Irene’s March workshop, “Dancing with the Wall” is a 2- day program. Spending two days with Irene would be a terrific opportunity to learn her processes. Register now so you don’t miss out  Members should log in and go to the Members Only Workshop Registration page.

With this exciting March presenter, we will really be back to the ‘new normal,’ in-person meetings with Zoom access for five of our six 2023 Quilt Days. It will really feel good to see each other in person again.

Please see the end of this letter where I have included volunteer positions that might be just what you are looking for. Some of those positions will help us get back to our pre-pandemic meeting activities. Thanks for considering volunteering. It makes the guild what it is, but it also helps those who volunteer to feel more a part of something that is important to them.

July GAAQG Quilting Retreat


As many of you know, GAAQG is not planning to hold Quilt University in 2023. Instead, we are planning to hold a GAAQG Quilt Retreat this summer, starting on Friday, June 30 and going through Sunday afternoon, July 2. It will be held at Creative Passions Quilt Retreats in Chesaning, MI.

Participants will each have their own workstation, with an adjustable chair, a work light and outlets, and ironing stations and design walls available in the room. You will need to bring your own sewing machine and your own projects. Sleeping accommodations will be in a room with four twin beds and an attached bathroom, with towels and linens provided. The cost will be $165 for three days, or you can choose to arrive on Thursday night, June 29, for an extra $30. Breakfast is included, and there will be an option of having meals catered by the Riverfront Grill, a local restaurant.

More information to follow!

Be My Guest

Help us to grow our Guild! Members can use a “Be My Guest” form to give a “quilting loving” friend access to our next guild meeting, either in person or by Zoom. How do I get a form? When log on to the website, on the landing page scroll down to Quick Links and Resources and click on “Be My Guest Card for Quilt Guild Meeting Days.” Please note that the Be My Guest invitation can only be extended by active members.

Show & Tell

For our January online meeting, Show and tell for your own projects and Safe House quilts will be a slide show during the meeting. Please have photos of what you want to share to Liz Rodriguiz at by January 12, 2023. Liz will also post our Show and Tell photos on our website.

Volunteer Positions Available

Currently there are several positions that you might think about volunteering for.

  • GAAQG Historian – The historian is responsible for maintaining and updating historical files. She also maintains and stores paper files (1 box). Time commitment–1 hour a month plus attendance at monthly Zoom board meetings.
  • Safe House in Person Sew-in Volunteer – Organize in-person sew-ins once or twice a year to take place after the regular quilt day meetings.
  • Quilt Day Demo Liaison – Organize short demos to be presented before and after the in-person quilt day meeting. These can be repeats and/or focused on newer quilters as well as more advanced topics.
  • Vendor Liaison – Facilitate having a vendor present for sales of their merchandise before and after in-person quilt day meetings.

Please check out the GAAQG website for more information about many of the topics I have covered in this letter. Descriptions of all the 2023 workshops are available there. You can also use the website to join the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild if you are not currently a member.

As you can see, there is a lot going on!


Marge Venema

GAAQG President


President's Message

December 2022

Looking back on 2022 …..

The Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild has reason to be proud of our work in 2022. We have successfully managed the transition from Zoom meetings and on-line workshops to our current Hybrid status where members can join us in person or online for Quilt Days. As usual, we will be on Zoom for our January meeting and workshops. Historically the weather has not allowed our normal activities for our January meeting, but we will be welcoming Brenda Gael Smith from Australia.

We provided six world class lecturers and ten workshops which continue to improve our artistic work.  Most of the workshops were sold out.
While our members show the highest standard in vision and workmanship, we heartily welcome new quilters and new sewers. Our members are supportive and non-judgmental. There are no Quilt Police in the building.
More than 1,300 people attended our July Quilt Show. This was a great chance to showcase our work live
and in-person.  

Our outreach activities in November at the Novi Sewing Expo gave us a chance to share our love of quilting with all of you and added 165 area quilters who asked to join our mailing list.

At our November 19 Quilt Day meeting, we unanimously elected our 2023 officers:
President – Marge Venema
Vice-President Memberships – Martha Williams
Vice-President Programs – Jane Clark
Co-Treasurers – Melissa Gregoire and Sarah Bush
Secretary – Maryann Hummer

At the November meeting, we also collected 48 quilts made and donated by our members to SafeHouse Center.  Those quilts, added to others collected earlier, brought our total donated in 2022 to 301 quilts.  SafeHouse Executive Director, Christine Watson, and Development Resource Director, Rhonda Parker, were present and expressed how important these quilts are to their clients.  Each person receives one of our quilts on their bed when they arrive and takes it home when they leave.  In addition, it was reported that we sold 15 quilts at our July Quilt Show and 19 quilts so far through our Online Quilt Sale, for a total revenue to SafeHouse Center of nearly $11,000.
January 2023 Workshops
Our January speaker is Brenda Gael Smith from Australia who will offer two three-hour workshops.  Both will be held at different times due to the time difference in Australia.  Because the duration of these workshops are 3 hours instead of the usual 6 hours, students will pay half price ($37.50).

The Friday workshop, “Strip-Ease” will be from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
   This class will give you an effective, improvisational strip-piecing technique to create new “fabrics” layer by layer and explore design possibilities for incorporating these strip sets into your own compositions.  The workshop includes comprehensive after-class materials. See our Workshops – 2023 website page for more information.

Sunday, January 22 Workshop: “Line Dancing” – 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

 Brenda will teach versatile methods of piecing expressive fine lines.  You will undertake improvisational design exercises to create small compositions. The workshop includes comprehensive after-class materials.  For more information, see our website Workshops – 2023 pageThis workshop is currently sold out.  To add your name to the waitlist, contact 

Our January Quilt Day meeting and lecture will be at the usual time (Saturday, January 21) via Zoom at 9:00 a.m.  Your Zoom invitation will be sent to your email on Thursday, January 19.  Check out our website Workshops – 2023 page for upcoming speakers.
Additional Member Events
We continue to offer opportunities to join with other quilters through small groups and Sew-ins
Members can join us in an online sew-in each month for our SafeHouse Center mission. These Sew-Ins are a great time to ask questions, share ideas and make new friends. Our next one will be on New Year’s Eve, December 31, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Members will receive an invitation via email.

Visit our website to see a list of groups that are accepting new members. In a guild as large as ours, these Small Groups add opportunities for members to meet regularly, in person or via Zoom, to share ideas, gain inspiration, participate in challenges, and make new friends.  We encourage our members to either join an existing group or create one of your own. 

Farewell and thanks…
My Presidency ends on December 31, and I would like to thank all the volunteers of the Guild for their work, suggestions, time, and energy during the last two years. You have managed to excel during difficult and uncertain times. We were never quite sure if we would be able to return to WCC this summer but, thanks to everyone, we successfully navigated the issues. It is difficult to honor all the “Back Stage” workers. We have Board openings, people who manage Zoom, keep track of members and classes, draw up schematics of the Atrium, run fabric and book sales, plan and manage the Quilt Show, including set-up and take-down, oversee SafeHouse quilts, and manage the day-to-day activities, such as our member and public communications, that keep our guild going. The list is so long!  There were 90 names in the drawing for the volunteer quilt, including its creators, Rick Ware and Glenna Schweitzer, which was won by Henya Rachmiel. I would love to be able to thank each of you personally for supporting our activities but please know you have my gratitude.
Lynne Bryant
President, GAAQG