A traditional art of skill, creativity

Quilts: A quilters guild show shares a circle of friends' creations and the lessons behind them.

April 15, 2004|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

It takes only one person to pull a needle through fabric, but members of the Faithful Circle Quilters say the best part of their craft often involves the company of others.

"Belonging to a guild really assists the quilters in learning new things and perfecting what they are doing," said Irma Bast, a member from Columbia. "The camaraderie that you end up with is fantastic."

In honor of that fellowship, "Lessons in Quilting" is the theme of Faithful Circle's biannual quilt show, being held today through Saturday at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County in Columbia.

About 300 quilts will be on display, and the makers were asked to include a tag describing how they learned the technique, where they got the pattern or who inspired the design.

Quilting is a traditional art that continues to draw fans.

The National Quilting Association, based in Ellicott City, has about 4,000 members in the United States and other countries, according to Gayle Sternheim, the group's executive assistant. She estimates that there are about 12 million quilters in this country.

The association has more than 250 active chapters, including the Faithful Circle and 17 others in Maryland.

Bast said that three quilting supply shops have opened in the area in the past two years and that Faithful Circle added 50 members at its 2002 show.

She credits the combination of skill and creativity in quilting with attracting participants.

"It's kind of like working a crossword puzzle," she said, but it also lets the maker choose what colors and fabrics to use. "The same pattern can come out very different depending who is doing it."

The quilts in the show, ranging from queen-sized bed covers to small wall hangings, show off a diversity of styles. Some are complex patterns of traditional geometric shapes. Others are decorated with fabric flowers, ribbons, cats and birds. One has vibrant yellow tang fish swimming among sea grass, and another uses many strips of fabric to create a Bosc pear. Some of the fabrics are decorated with patterns from tiny flowers to cartoon penguins.

The guild plans to raffle one quilt that involves the work of more than 70 members. The design includes star patterns and fan shapes in deep, vibrant colors on a cream-colored background, a wreath of multihued flowers circling the center and intricately stitched patterns over the surface.

The show will feature vendors, demonstrations and a silent auction of 100 items made by guild members.

The guild, which has about 190 members, holds meetings at First Presbyterian Church every Monday evening and Thursday afternoon. Quilters work on projects, show off their quilts, receive critiques and share tips.

Members also make quilts for charities that serve people who are homeless, abused or ill. In September, the group made 66 crib-sized quilts adorned with Curious George - the monkey from the series of children's books - for children at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Bast, an accountant, made her first quilt after she saw a pattern on a magazine cover in a grocery store. She took a few classes and watched quilting instruction on television before she attended the Faithful Circle show in 2002 and decided to join the guild.

"I thought it would be nice to make new friends, find out more about quilting and get support for what I'm trying to do," she said.

Eleanor Fabiszak of Columbia had enjoyed sewing for many years, but became passionate about quilting when she retired from nursing. "It's what I do. It's how I express myself. It's how I relax," she said.

She said she particularly enjoys the social aspects of the group. She said she had a lot of acquaintances, "but I didn't have the tight group of friends I have now that I joined the guild. It is one of the best things that has happened to me."

"It's a support system, more than just a sewing circle," said Joyce Ritter of Ellicott City.

Ritter, a former photographer and television producer for the National Security Agency, said her quilting has improved because of the guild and she never tires of the craft.

"A quilt is a hug," she said. "Everybody needs a quilt. You can never make enough of them."

The quilt show is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and tomorrow and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, 9325 Presbyterian Circle, off Route 108 at U.S. 29. Admission is $5.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.