By hand or machine
BILLIE RUTH STANDBRIDGE | �The Quilt Lady� - Lone Star Heritage Quilt Guild

Carter Houck, a skilled needle woman and author, and Myron Miller, a professional photographer, took on the enormous responsibility of an all encompassing book, “American Quilts and How to Make Them.” As they covered the countryside, visiting historical houses, museums and individual restorations from Connecticut to North Carolina, Carter summed up her assessment of people and quilts: “Some people like to look at quilts and some people like to make them. Some others like to look at them and dream that some day they are going to make them.” 

Does that sound familiar? I think everyone of those people were represented at our Fall Festival Quilt Show. Our show was such a huge success that it makes me wonder sometimes how can we possibly improve over the last. But, of course, we always do. The biggest variable of all, however, can’t change, and that’s our space. Considering all of the many events taking place at the Fall Festival, I realize we are very fortunate to have the space we do. So, we work at improving our organizational skills, learning to make best use of space, how to effectively advertise, and continuing to bring the most interesting special features. 

Speaking of special features, Bettie Hammock’s “Bed Turning” was a smashing success. What a crowd pleaser! And the quality of quilts entered in our show rivaled those of many a bigger show. This was Nancy Sloan’s second time to enter her award-winning quilts with us and she is a Best of Show winner four years in a row at the Texas State Fair. She and her sister, Betty Shipley, and our own Dee Harder and Rose Hillsamer, all enter exquisitely pieced, hand quilted quilts, which brings me to a particular point of interest.

Historically, quilts were almost always pieced and quilted by the same person. An exception to that would be friendship quilts, quilted by a group of friends. But, generally speaking, when a person was referred to as a quilter, it meant that she/he pieced and quilted.  

Today, this has changed drastically. If you asked that question today of a quilter, you most likely would get a “yes,” but in reality it may mean that the person is a piecemaker only. The definition of quilting means sewing the three layers — pieced top, batting and backing — together. Smaller pieces such as miniatures and wall hangings can be done on a quilter’s home sewing machine. But full-size quilts are more often being done by long-arm quilters. The long-arm quilting industry is one that is growing by leaps and bounds. 

Lisa Coker of Commerce walked away with numerous awards this year for both her piecing and her own long-arm quilting. As you admire these machine quilted quilts, don’t give them less value in your mind by assuming that a machine does the thinking, planning and execution. A quilter runs that machine. A programmed, repetitious stitching pattern may be done, but that is not what a winning quilter does. It took years before long-arm quilting was considered legitimate, and early on, machine quilted quilts wouldn’t even be accepted into a judged show. But that time has long gone. I have to say though, that there will always be tremendous emotional appeal to the hand quilted quilts. To the diehards, if it isn’t done by hand, it isn’t a “real” quilt. 

The reason that I’m giving this much explanation to the distinction between the piecemaker and the quilter is that we are one of the few shows where the “quilter” is being acknowledged as a part of that award winning quilt. A top that has not been skillfully and artfully pieced cannot be made an award winning quilt by the quilter. But, when you have the best of both, then you have an award winning quilt. 

The show is over and we can catch up on our rest and go back to leading normal lives, which will be gratefully appreciated by our families. It’s a tremendous effort to put on a really good professional show, but we’ve been rewarded by unbelievably good feedback. 

As usual, we can be expecting another good guild program arranged by Tammy Ologue for our upcoming meeting on Monday, Sept. 25. We had numerous attendees at the show who expressed an interest in joining our very active guild and we certainly will look forward to seeing you. We’re at the Senior Citizens Activity Center at 150 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive every fourth Monday, with socializing starting at 5:30 p.m., refreshments at 6 p.m., program at 7 p.m.  

The Welcome sign will be out. 

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