Quilter's wrapped up in her love for the form She teaches craft at Farm Museum

October 03, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Over the work table belonging to Nancy Ogletree of Snydersburg hangs a bumper sticker that reads, "Whoever dies with the most fabric wins."

Quilts hang on her walls.

On plate hangers above the windows hang a series of 12 plates depicting -- quilts.

In the living room a music box shaped like an old-fashioned Singer treadle sewing machine plays "Buttons and Bows."

"I just love quilting," she said. "I'm going to have a quilt-related house."

Mrs. Ogletree is a devoted volunteer. But, like her home's decor, all her volunteer projects are related to quilts.

For three years, she volunteered at the Maryland State Fair, in the needlework section. Now she is paid to run the needlework department.

She demonstrates quilting on weekends at the Carroll County Farm Museum. She also organized "Just Needles and Thee," a needlework circle that meets at the museum, and she will soon help the museum document its large quilt collection.

With colleagues, she spent months teaching quilting to students at Spring Garden Elementary School in Hampstead.

She works with a quilters' group at Patapsco United Methodist Church in Westminster.

This week, she was volunteer coordinator for the Chesapeake Quilt Festival, which winds up today at the Sheraton Baltimore North in Towson.

Some of the show's proceeds will benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Mrs. Ogletree said.

She recruited 75 people from around Maryland to work at the show, doing registration, organizing a raffle, and acting as "white glove hostesses." The hostesses wear white gloves to show quilts to visitors, so that oils from human hands do not stain the fabrics.

The show features about 150 quilts from throughout the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. All the quilts reflect the show's theme, "Protecting and Replenishing Our Earth's Resources."

"This is going to be different, let me tell you," she said Monday.

The quilts are modern, she said, which means they are more three-dimensional and more gaudy than old-fashioned ones. There is only "a fine line" between today's quilts and soft sculpture, she said.

Some modern quilts incorporate beads and metallic thread. One of the show's quilts, Mrs. Ogletree said, is accompanied by a music box that plays sounds of ocean surf.

Mrs. Ogletree learned needlework from her grandfather, a British soldier in World War I who learned to knit, crochet, darn and embroider as therapy for his war injuries. He could not teach her how to tat, because he was right-handed and she is left-handed.

However, she did not learn to quilt until eight years ago.

She said she learned quilting "on a dare, from an acquaintance in Anne Arundel County who said I never had enough patience to quilt."

She took one quilting class, and she was hooked. She gave away all her knitting yarn and embroidery floss, and never looked back.

Before that first class finished, she had made two quilts. Now she has made about 12, including eight large ones.

Quilting is "comforting," she said, because while one part of the mind concentrates on following the quilt's pattern, the rest of the mind can wander.

"You can fight with yourself, and solve all the world's problems while quilting."

Mrs. Ogletree also quilts for pay. People who have pieced together quilt tops hire her to do the actual "quilting," the work of sewing the top, the batting and the backing together, with intricate patterns of tiny stitches.

She is now quilting a quilt top that was pieced in the 1920s and 1930s. The work will take about four months.

Fortunately, her husband, Larry, is a "qubby," or a supportive quilter's hubby. He builds quilt racks and helps her pick out colors.

"He's got a good eye," she said.

Once, he suggested that a certain shade of red be added to a design.

"It just was, like, WHOOM!" she said. "It was the right sparkle. . . . It made it talk."

Today's quilters have some tools that quilters of the 1930s lacked. There are computer programs that help quilters design quilt patterns and make templates. And quilters from around the world keep in touch via computer networks.

But some things are no easier today.

The hard part for her, Mrs. Ogletree said, is giving up a quilt once it's finished, because "you've put so much of yourself into it."

For more information on the "Just Needles and Thee" needlework circle, call Mrs. Ogletree at 239-6503.

CARING FOR QUILTS

Nancy Ogletree has the following suggestions for the care of fine quilts:

* Never store a quilt in plastic, which does not "breathe." Instead, store the quilt in a pillowcase.

* Quilts that are stored folded for long periods may be damaged. If you store a folded quilt, take it out from time to time and refold it in a different way.

* Never store a quilt in a cedar chest. Chemicals in cedar wood can stain quilts.

* Have fine quilts appraised and keep the appraiser's certificate. If an unappraised quilt is damaged by fire or other accident, an insurance company will value it as merely so many yards of old fabric if you do not have a record of its value. If you don't know where to get a quilt appraised, ask a museum curator.

* Before you have an old quilt top quilted, remember: The top may be more valuable unquilted. Check with an expert first.

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