Then & Now: The Story of Rene Martinez Starting the Orlando MQG

Page Content: 
The Orlando MQG has been celebrating its “ten years in the making”! Founder and Board Member Rene Martinez shares with us the excitement of how it all began and her story of how #quiltguildchangedmylife.

How/why did you become a modern quilter?

Once upon a time there was a quilter who didn’t have anyone to play with. None of her friends were interested in quilt making, and although her family was indulgent, they didn’t really get this newfound obsession she had with taking pretty fabric, cutting it up into pieces, and then putting it back together again. But then she discovered there was an online quilting community which opened a whole new world to her. She started her own quilting blog and “met” other quilters including one from the local community. Also, around that time a modern quilting movement was emerging.

Why did you decide to start your own chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild?

There was a modern quilting guild group in LA that seemed to be having a lot of fun and were encouraging other areas to start their own fun group. They even provided a link to find out more information. So, this lonely quilter clicked on that link and discovered there was NOT a group in Orlando but was told SHE could start one. Having never attended a guild meeting of any kind, she was not convinced this was the best idea. After several rounds of emails and assurances that she COULD do it and that help would be available, she agreed. A few months later, the first meeting of the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild was held on March 3, 2010. There were 16 of us at that very first meeting and the two quilt blogging friends met in real life for the first time. This quilter and Michele Lancaster continue to serve on the OrlandoMQG board today. 

Rene's first modern quilt.​

What is your favorite part about being a part of the MQG?

Our guild has grown and changed quite a bit since then. We currently have just over 100 members and are continuing to attract new members. As anyone reading this will understand, the quilting community is unlike any other in their generosity in times of hardship. Even knowing that, we were astounded at the response to our community after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. With the participation of the worldwide quilting community, we were able to deliver over 1,800 quilts to those affected by the tragedy of this shooting. Family members of victims, survivors, first responders, mental health counselors, and others all felt the love that a quilt provides.

Current Picture of Orlando Guild. Image Credit: Carole Garnier.

How has modern quilting and the MQG impacted your life?

Oh, and that quilter in the story?  She now has lots and lots of friends to quilt with! Not only has she made quilting friends in the Orlando area, she has met so many wonderful quilters attending QuiltCon and other MQG events. There’s nothing better than creating with friends, which led to the opening of The Craft Table - a place to Gather, Create, Learn, and Shop. 

The hashtag #quiltguildchangedmylife feels like it was written just for me! Thank you MQG!


Images by Rene Martinez unless otherwise noted.

Featured image: Orlando MQG 1st Guild meeting on March 3, 2010 at The Sewing Studio.