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Quilting – the art that’s no longer just for Grandma

Experienced quilt makers put on demonstrations for visitors to the annual Loose Thread Quilters show on April 8 at the Peebles United Methodist Church.

Loose Thread Quilters host their sixth annual quilt show – 

Story and photos by Patricia Beech – 

Last weekend, the interior of the United Methodist Church in Peebles was transformed into a vibrant display of color and design as the Loose Thread Quilters played host to their sixth annual Quilt Show.
Hundreds of visitors strolled through the church’s sanctuary where dozens of handmade quilts lay draped over pews facing a towering stained glass window.
“Nearly all of these quilts were made this year, and many of them were made by club members who once believed they’d never be able to make a quilt,” said Sylvia Baker, who founded the club in 2011. “We’re doing our part to keep this important Appalachian art alive.”
Baker has a somewhat holistic view of quilting. She says the ancient handicraft is good for the body, mind, and soul because it provides an invaluable outlet for creativity.
“When you retire, if you have not discovered that creative thing within yourself, you’re not going to be a happy retiree, and if you lose a spouse you’ve got to have a creative outlet to help you through the grieving process,” she says. “We don’t stop to think when we’re young and raising our children that we’re being creative in that area, so when we’re left alone, or when we lose the job we’ve done every day for 30 years, we still need to keep tapping into that inner creative source. It keeps you excited about getting up in the morning.”
The 45-member club, which meets twice a month at the Methodist Church, has members from Adams, Highland, Brown, Clermont, Pike, and Hamilton Counties.
While many think of quilting as something Grandma does to keep her feet warm on cold winter nights, the Loose Thread Quilters are focused on showing that quilting is an art that bridges generations.
New mother Laura Hoople agrees. Standing outside the sanctuary with her newborn snuggled into a sling hanging from her neck, she says, “Quilting is making a comeback because so many are getting into the handicrafts that people used to do.”
Hoople, who is originally from Clermont County, says she was invited by a friend to join the club. “My grandmother and my great-grandmother were both prolific quilters,” she says. “I guess it’s in my genes and I’m proud to carry on the tradition.
Baker says that even young children get inspired when they attend meetings with their mothers because “we’re tapping into their inner creativity.”
“We have a first-grader named Jack who is a very good sewer,” she says. “There is no age limit, or skill limit and it is a craft anyone can learn to do.”
The club offers classes for beginners, teaching quilting techniques and how to choose fabric, color and design, as well as how to put a block together, and how to apply the binding.
There were also demonstrations by the seasoned quilters in the group who bring in their current projects.
“It is very beneficial and fun to share what you’re doing with people who have the same interest, and who really appreciate the quality of their work,” says Baker. “We’re very supportive of each other, we don’t criticize, we have only positive reinforcement because we want to bring each other up to the level of joy. We always say that when you come through the door, leave your troubles in the parking lot.”
Darlene Scott, who serves as one of the group’s co-leaders, says the club members also try to inspire one another to be disciplined in their quilting habits.
“Too often you go to the quilt shop and buy the stuff you need, then you put it on a shelf at home and never get around to doing it,” she says. “So, we did a yearly challenge requiring everyone to complete a single panel.”
In addition to the quilt displays the show also features quilting demonstrations and a Bed Turning.
“We spread 15 old quilts over a bed then remove them one at a time as each quilt owner tells the history of their quilt and how it came to be theirs,” says Baker, as she points out two men seated across the room. “See, even men like this because quilts take you back to a time of comfort at Grandma’s house – when you slept under a quilt there you sleep under a blanket of love.”
The Loose Thread Quilters meet twice a month – the first and third Thursdays from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Peebles United Methodist Church, and all are welcome to attend.

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