Meet Our Team!

Hello and welcome! I'm RaNae Merrill. I have a great team of people working with me -- let me introduce you to everyone!

RaNae Merrill, CEO

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I began quilting in 1989 (my first year of graduate school) by finishing a quilt my grandmother had been making for me when she died in 1976. (It turned out to be king-size and I hand quilted the whole thing!) Later I found a batch of nine-patch squares in a trunk that had belonged to her, and I started using those to make baby quilts for my nieces and nephews. When people began praising my designs and suggesting that I quilt professionally, I brushed off the idea as impractical.

So it was a surprise to me when I stumbled into quilting professionally back in 2005. I took some fabric design ideas to a few fabric manufacturers for feedback. To my surprise, Blank Quilting bought one of the groups I showed them. As I left the meeting,the designer I had met with suggested that I go to Quilt Market. That was my first quilt show and it blew my mind! I saw quilts in a totally new way. And I learned that it was possible to make a career of quilting.

I published my first book, Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts, in 2008, inspired by a doodle of a spiral I drew while on a temp job. That book was followed by two more books about spiral quilts: Magnificent Spiral Mandala Quilts and Sideways Spiral Quilts.  Free-Motion Mastery in a Month,my fourth book, is a shift from quilt design to free-motion quilting. It's based on my experience as a pianist and piano teacher. It has been really fun to see  people  get excited about this unique approach to learning FMQ!

The day I got my first box of books back in October 2008 I walked out the door to my first teaching engagement and I've been teaching ever since.  I've taught throughout the USA, and also in South America (where I teach in Spanish).

Before I was a professional quilter I was a pianist (I have a Master's degree in Piano Performance), a photographer and a travel writer. I still love to travel, though lately it seems like more of a treat to stay home in New York City and quilt!

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Melissa Winters-Blake, Event Coordinator

Melissa is a planner at heart and has quilting in her bones. She has been quilting since she was 12 years old when her first quilt was made  as a Girl Scout Silver Award project. Melissa enjoys piecing the most and loves to stretch her mind by trying new techniques and patterns.

Event planning is Melissa's passion, and she has enjoyed all of her jobs including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and most importantly for us, the American Quilter's Society. Her depth of experience and knowledge of the quilt industry is her superpower!

During her down time Melissa loves to make quilts, go fishing, read books, garden and watch movies/TV. After living in many places across the United States, Melissa has gone back to her Midwest roots where she lives with her husband, Chris and dog, Nina. 

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Margie Moats, Project Designer

Margie’s first quilt was done on a child’s hand-crank Singer sewing machine.  She learned to sew garments on a treadle sewing machine, sewing first for herself and then her husband and children.  For decades she taught a wide range of subjects from elementary grades to college Sociology and from software applications to multiple needle crafts. In recent years, she discovered the creativity and artistry possible with quilting when her hands became too dried out to continue with high-fire ceramics.  She has won quilt show awards in embellishment and sewing machine mastery.

Margie is married with three children and six grandchildren.  She lives in rural, western Maryland where her family was established in the late 1700’s.   She continues to teach needle arts, to grow flowers, and to create one-of-a-kind gifts for family.

Want to see what Free-Motion Mastery is all about?