Local quilting bees are community efforts

One of my favorite books was a gift to me for chairing my first PAST quilt show in 2003.

“This Old Quilt” was edited by Margret Aldrich in 1975.  

An introduction notes that quilting has long been an art form practiced by early pioneer craftswomen to today’s modern artisans.  

The collection of stories in “This Old Quilt” is ”a heartwarming celebration of quilts and quilting memories.”

It refers to our “love affair with quilts and with the community-building that the creation process instills.”

And that “community-building creation process” brings me to today’s essay, “This New Quilt.”

For over 30 years, HCE (Home & Community Education Association) members with clever minds, creative skills and nimble fingers (often arthritic)  have pieced and quilted an annual 4-H quilt.

The quilt is raffled as a fund raiser to support 4-H activities and/or educational scholarships to Union County 4-Hers.

Recently, the quilt-making has developed into a “quilting bee” party that grows and grows.  

Now HCE units take turns preparing lunch for the quilters.

The affair starts in the mornings and spills over into the afternoons, with a small break for the lunch, of course.  

What used to be a “Thursdays-in-March” event is now scheduled throughout January, February and March.

Furthermore, the project is such a successful community service, that additional quilting projects are scheduled as “consignment” fund raisers for other HCE projects.  

The projects not only meet the needs of HCE, but provide a community service to people who want quilts made.  

Sometimes the projects are new. Sometimes the request is to finish a family heirloom started years ago by an honored relative. Often, the quilts are then given as treasured new gifts to loved ones.

A master’s degree in quilting is not required at HCE, though there are several masters at work there. What a wonderful opportunity for the novice to learn from the “master.”  

Quilters come and go as needed, and another picks up the needle and continues the stitches.  Sometimes it is easier to leave the quilting than it is to miss out on the end of a story.

Ladies who just do not quilt, may choose to come to watch, and help out in some other way; such as serving lunch, cutting borders, pressing pieces, running errands or just being supportive.  

Some may simply help layer the top, batting and lining together to begin a quilt. There is so much to learn about this creative hands-on process, there is something for everyone.

HCE quilting bees are definitely a “community-building creative process.”

And anyone in the community is invited to check out the event and join the “club.” Come help out with “This New Quilt,” on Thursdays through March. Call 833-6363 for more information.

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