How the Chattahoochee Evening Stars Quilt Guild was Formed
By Betsy Malone, First CES Guild President
Late in 1997, quilter Ann McLean and I started talking about the possibility of an evening quilt guild in North Fulton County. I am sure it was Ann who began the conversation, but I was also eager to have a local guild to attend. At the time there were two guilds in Cumming, GA–The Piecemakers and The Sunset Quilters. Ann was a member of at least the Sunset group, if not both, and she was tired of driving to Cumming. She wanted an evening guild in Alpharetta and argued that there were enough women in the area to support it. Ann was working at Hancock’s in Roswell, where I had also worked briefly, and we both saw the number of people who were shopping for quilt fabric. Ann thought the easiest way to do this was to contact The Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild and see if they were interested in a sister guild, which would have made the organizing of this thing so much easier. When Ann contacted their president, she just wasn’t interested in any such group and advised Ann that ‘all of our ladies can come during the day’. Ann, being the little red hen that she was, decided she would just do it herself—but unlike the storybook hen, she did have help.
Ann Johnson was a friend of hers who was also interested in having an evening guild and, of course, me. We decided to meet at the Pancake House in Roswell to decide, if in fact, we were committed to doing this and to begin setting up the initial organization. At that meeting we decided that we would be the acting officers of the new guild. I would be the president, Ann Johnson would be the vice president in charge of programs, and Ann McLean would be the secretary-treasurer. I was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Roswell at the time and I knew we could meet there. I was also fairly new to computers, but I had a friend who was a legal secretary and very good with them, and she had tons of graphics. I called and gave her the specifics of when, where, and what and 15 minutes later she faxed me a flyer that we put in Hancock’s, Cloth World (as it was called back then), and the local quilt shop, The Calico Quilter in Roswell. Then, we sat back and waited to see who would show up.
To our surprise and delight there were 14 women at that first meeting. One of the first things we did was brainstorm to find a name for this group which we were then calling The North Fulton Evening Quilt Guild. A committee was formed, headed by Meryl Gillingham. The committee took our suggestions, and I believe added a few of their own, and by the second meeting they had three choices from which we could vote on. That is how The Chattahoochee Evening Stars got their name. I believe it was also Meryl who created our logo.
Ann really didn’t like the Unitarian Church as our meeting location. It was pretty dumpy at the time and the lighting wasn’t good. She envisioned a group who would do some sewing together, so lighting was important. I had to find a new location. Back then there was a car dealership on Mansell Road called Auto Nation. They had a fairly large room with tables and chairs and access to a coffee pot and a microwave, and they let community groups use it for free. The building was new and clean and the room had plenty of great lighting. It was perfect! The only problem with Auto Nation was that we quickly outgrew the facility.
In six months we had doubled the size of the original group, and the room that had once been so large was now cramped. Ann McLean knew someone who worked for the City of Alpharetta and finagled space at the Alpharetta Adult Activity Center where we now meet. So, in November of 1998, we moved to our third ‘home’ and with our expanded space, our membership grew as well. By the end of that first full year, we had close to 40 members and the Chattahoochee Evening Stars Quilt Guild was clearly on its way!