Over 500 people attended the 12th annual Wilkes County Quilters Inc. Quilt Show on Friday and Saturday at the Stone Center in North Wilkesboro.
The theme was “Patchwork Dreams,’’ with quilting members exhibiting bed size quilts as well as wall hangings, novelty items, art quilts, round robin quilts and challenge quilts.
“Quilts are treasures and are a significant part of our heritage,” said Jo Scorof, president of the Wilkes County Quilters.
“We thoroughly enjoy putting on the show and sharing our love of quilting with the public,” said Mrs. Scorof.
The crowds came for the treasures found at the show, such as the beautiful quilting work, made by people like Janice Earp of Wilkesboro. Mrs. Earp, a lifelong quilter, won three blue ribbons for her work; best hand quilt, best use of color and first place small bed quilt.
As the youngest of eight children, Mrs. Earp says she grew up watching her mother, Gay Ferguson of Boomer, quilt. Mrs. Earp learned how to quilt at a young age and has been an active member of the Wilkes Quilters for many years.
“I wish my mother was here to see this,” said Mrs. Earp who primarily hand quilts her work rather than using a sewing machine.
The importance of quilting in our heritage was demonstrated by the popularity of a 20-minute vintage quilt bed turning that took place several times during the two day quilt show.
The quilts were placed on an old bed, in chronological order with each being turned as their story was read by Julie Willis, a former Wilkes resident and member of the Wilkes County Quilters. She explained the story of 14 vintage quilts, dating from 1860 to 1980. Many were made in Wilkes and surrounding counties.
“The material making the quilts can be very fragile and the quilts are very precious to family members. We are very care with them,” said Mrs. Willis.
The oldest quilt used a Triple Irish Chair pattern and was owned by Ellen Rhyne of Wilkesboro. Her great-great grandmother’s niece, Rachel Shetley, made the quilt in Gaston County just before the Civil War.
When Yankee soldiers came through the area looking for supplies, they found hams on Ms. Shetley’s farm, wrapped in her quilts. As they began to rip the quilts to get to the hams, Ms. Shetley ran out with a broom, screaming to “leave her quilts alone.”
The officer in charge told the soldiers to stop and they left the area.
This was one of the 14 stories Mrs. Willis read to the crowds attending the bed turnings. The newest one, made in the 1970s, was filled with appliqués telling the story of a son’s racing days.
“This is a family album,” pointed out Mrs. Willis. “But every quilt tells a story and every piece of the cloth means something.”
She said in the 1920s and especially in the Depression, printed and colored feed sacks began to be used in quilts and clothing. Wives would tell their husbands which sacks of feed they needed for a dress or to finish a quilt.
This was a particularly popular custom in rural areas until the 1950s, said Mrs. Willis.
Beatrice Kamperman and Alexia Shumate, both of Wilkes, were high school seniors participating in this year’s quilting show. They both learned to quilt through members of the Wilkes County Quilters and were enthusiastic about their work.
Ms. Shumate’s senior project used her school colors of black and orange with a theme of the “Comfort of Psalms.” Ms. Kamperman’s entry was the honorable mention winner in the large bed quilt category.
Those attending the show voted for their favorite quilt in several categories. There was a silent auction item of a painted quilted landscape painted by local artist, Gayle Benton and guild raffle quilt tickets were for sale. Also there were handmade items for sale and other silent auction items in the boutique.
A hand quilting demonstration was ongoing both days on a quilt being made for Wilkes Habitat for Humanity. A display of community service projects showed the types of quilts made and donated to local groups by the Wilkes County Quilters.
There were eight vendors offering items from thread, fabric, books, patterns, notions, and barn quilts, yard flags, yard signs, and magnetic mailbox covers.
Winners in the quilt show were: best hand quilting, Janice Earp; best machine quilting, Lynn Osborne; best use of color, Janice Earp. Challenge, first place, Ellen Rhyne; second place, Ellen Firestone; third place Betty Brame and honorable mention, Madra Prater.
Large bed quilt; first place, Joanne Nichols; second place, Debbie Sebring; third place, Joanne Nichols and honorable mention; Beatrice Kamperman. Small bed quilt; first place, Janice Earp; second place, Laura Reavis; third place, Julie Willis and honorable mention, Kathy Hamby.
Large wall hanging; first place Terri Kuneyl; second place, Ginny Potter and third place, Lynn Osborne. Honorable mention was Laura Reavis. Small wall hanging; first place, Ginny Potter, second place, Lynn Osborne and third place, Genny Johnson.
Baby quilt; first place, Katie Morris. Large panel and kits; first place, Carolyn Henry; second place, Carroll Curtis, and third place, Debbie Sebring. Small panels and kits; first place, Christine Benfield; second place, Debbie Fuller and third place, Jo Scorof.
First time entry; first place, Arlene Lampley and second place, Rosalee Reavis. Novelty, miscellaneous, first place, Sylvia Pipes; second place, Terry Staley; third place, Arlene Lampley and honorable mention, Myrtle McIntyre. Art quilt, first place, Madra Prater; second place, Sherrie Royster; third place, Margie Ellis and honorable mention, Sylvia Pipes.