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The East Cobb Quilters’ Guild

The members of the East Cobb Quilters’ Guild (ECQG) are determined to offer something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand-new quilter or an award-winning maker,  whether you have a day job and need an evening meeting time or if your quilt vibe is modern, traditional, or something else entirely, the friendly folks at the ECQG have your back.

With 344 members, the ECQG is certainly among the largest guilds in the country, and the strength of those numbers enables the organization to do a lot of things really well. For starters, members have a choice of attending an evening meeting, or a day meeting, and the national speakers and teachers the guild brings in often address members in both time slots.

(L-R) Robin Meyer with her quilt "Glorious Gardens" (2022), Jan Cunningham with her quilt “Butterfly Kisses" (2022), Devon Pfeif with "L’inspiration dans Arles" (2017), Linda Bailey with "Bailey's Neighborhood” (made by Caroline for Linda in 2022), Linda and Steve Agnello with Linda’s "Circle-ish" (2022), and Caroline Benefield with “Storm at Sea” (made by Devon Pfeif and Sally Yoerger, and quilted by Denise Cornett for Caroline’s president’s quilt in 2023).

When it comes to charity work, these quilters are so enthusiastic they’ve surpassed their own goals. For example, the guild set a 2023 goal to make 325 placemats for Atlanta’s Meals on Wheels. As of this writing, they’ve made 524. They also work with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to support a program to make small cloth bags for seriously ill children. As the children go to appointments, they collect beads or necklaces for each visit, and the children can use the handmade “Beads of Courage” bags to hold them. When the members delivered 821 bags, 521 above their goal of 300, they nearly overwhelmed the organization. 

(L-R) Robin, Jan, Devon and Linda checking out the details of “Bailey’s Neighborhood”, made by Caroline for Linda in 2022. 

“When you see these bags just filled with beads, it blows your mind that these children have been through so much,” Linda Agnello, a ECQG member, said. 

One possible theory explaining why this particular guild’s charity program is so incredibly successful has a lot to do with communication and empathy. Every year, individuals from the charities the guild supports provide a lecture for members where they share photos and meaningful stories of how their donations made an impact. 

“The charities come in and tell us what happens, and you just can’t help but feel something, and when you feel it, then you want to be a part of it,” Steve Agnello, Linda’s husband and a ECQG member, explained “It’s not always easy to hear about all these issues. But it makes you look at society and say there is a need here, and you can’t ignore it.”

Linda and Steve Agnello with Linda’s quilt “Circle-ish” (2023), which Steve quilted on a domestic machine. It was Linda’s first experience with curved piecing. The name was inspired by a student-invented word to describe watching his classmates organize into circles for a singing game. Almost every group was waiting for a couple of kids to complete the circle. 

Linda and Steve Agnello are both active in making items for the charities, but this husband-and-wife team are also co-chairs for the guild’s next big quilt show. And this particular show is truly going to be big. Over 3,000 people attended the 2022 event. Those attendees got to see 344 quilts on exhibit that were part of the members-only competition. The guild hires experienced, certified judges who award cash prizes to winning quilts. In addition, so many of the members offered to volunteer for the three-day event that managing all the human hours requires a finely tuned system. There are 600 slots for two and a half hour shifts, and over 180 members volunteered to work. Planning for the next Georgia Celebrates Quilts® 2024 show is well underway. It will be held at the Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta, June 6-8, 2024. 

“No doubt it’s a job, but we try to have a lot of fun,” Steve adds. Past president and past quilt-show chair Linda Bailey jokingly explained that Steve was one of her best recruits. 

“Basically, Steve gives us directions, and we all follow,” Linda Bailey says with a smile. The team of Steve and Linda Agnello work with prior quilt show chairs as mentors, who provide them with direction.

There is one more curious contributor to the success of this guild – and it’s surprisingly the library! ECQG has over 700 books in its collection, which is managed by guild member Merle Anderson, a former librarian. The secret to its success is online access. Every book is available to preview online, so members can save time by searching titles at home and then requesting books at the meeting.

Linda Bailey with her quilt "Brilliant Blooms & Bubbles" made in 2022.

The collection covers classic and timely quilt history books, as well as just about every category of how-to. Fortunately, their meeting venue hosts at the Catholic Church of St. Ann in Marietta have allowed the guild to permanently store the books onsite. 

The church recently completed a major new addition, so the meeting space for ECQG is state of the art. Linda Bailey explains that the great lighting and well-thought-out audio visual technology make the meetings better for everyone. But beyond a great space, it’s more likely that the friendly folks and their well-oiled programs, outreach, and quilt show are what attract, and retain, so many delighted quilters. 

East Cobb Quilters Guild 2024 Raffle Quilt, "Kaleidoscope". The improvisational tessellation design was created and sewn by over 100 ECQG members and quilted by Denise Cornett. Completed in September 2023. L-R: Robin Meyer, Linda Agnello, Caroline Benefield, Jan Cunningham, Steve Agnello, Devon Pfeif and Linda Bailey.

About the Author

Teresa Duryea Wong is a writer, quiltmaker, and antique quilt collector as well as a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Quilt Museum. Learn more on her website

About the Photographer

Azuree Holloway has been photographing for Quiltfolk since 2019 and has contributed to many other projects. Check out more of her work on her website and her Instagram.

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