Local exhibit proves quilting is very much alive | Community

By Srianthi Perera, GSN Contributor
7 Min Read

Some might call quilting a dying art. But the annual show put on by HD SOUTH: Home of the Gilbert Historical Museum may prove them wrong.

Volunteers have laid out the 19th annual Art of Quilting show on the walls and along the hallway of the historic building with 140 quilts completed by the in-house bee or borrowed from the community. 

The show includes the special traveling 25-piece exhibit of “19th Century Blues: More Than Just Indigo” quilts on loan from the American Quilt Study Group. 

The show runs through May 28 and about 40 of the items are for sale.

“The annual quilt show is a beloved event that many, many folks look forward to each year,” said HD SOUTH Executive Director Denise M. Lopez. “HD SOUTH is truly honored to be the facility to showcase it.”

Lopez said the show allows the center to provide a unique exposure to a craft not many see on a regular basis or only might have heard of from others. 

“Quilting is an art,” she said. “As the sole hub for art, culture, and history in Gilbert, the annual quilt show helps HD SOUTH fulfill that responsibility for the community.”

Kathy Lester, longtime quilter and bee volunteer, said the Blues’ patterns and quilts from the 1800s, some hand-quilted, are “just gorgeous.” 

A story board comes with each of the traveling quilts.

“It’s inspiring to see the patterns that are still popular and how they’ve changed. Since the 1800s, we’re still doing a lot of the same things. Isn’t that amazing? And they are fresh and updated and they’re just as beautiful as they were back then,” Lester said.  

It’s not that the Gilbert quilters work on “new” items. Much of the quilts they complete are 100-year-old treasures from the past. 

Community members bring quilts for the volunteers to complete with batting and backing and turn into display pieces or utility items.

 Sometimes, people come across quilt top treasures in thrift stores and estate sales and bring them to the group. 

HD SOUT charges about $7 per foot to fasten the quilt tops to inner batting and backing and complete the quilt. Orders come from across the country and typically there is a two-year waiting list. The quilters complete nearly 20 quilts each year. 

“We do see a lot of the same patterns,” Lester said. “A lot of the quilts that we do are a lot of hand applique — we’re just quilting around that to make it pop, to accentuate the applique.”

An example is a quilt that the bee is working on now, with cutout butterfly shapes that have been appliqued on to squares.

“We are just accentuating that with our hand-quilting,” Lester said.

Members are also working on this year’s raffle quilt. It has taken them four months of work, but it is still a work in progress. 

The replica of a Civil War-style sampler, the king-size quilt has different styled blocks highlighted with orange fabric, called Chedder, from the era. Each pattern has its story detailed in an accompanying book.

“It is beautiful,” Lester said. “Visitors can see it being quilted. And they can buy raffle tickets on it.” 

The center sees an increase in monthly visitors during the annual show, anywhere from 10 to 15%, depending on the month. 

The quilt show, which typically runs from March to May, draws locals as well as visitors from out-of-town, out of state, and, occasionally, people from out of the country, Lopez said. 

The show tends to generate about $1,500-$2,000 each year, she said.

“Those funds are used, in part, to ensure the quilting bee has the supplies they need in order to continue to repair and complete the many projects they receive from people around the country,” Lopez added.

The bee volunteers are dedicated to their craft and produce unique pieces. Their services are highly sought after, they stay busy and work as fast as they can, but their numbers have dwindled this year to just 12.

A few weeks ago, they mourned the passing of a longtime member, 90-year-old Darlene Reid, whose work was lauded by the Arizona Quilters Guild. 

Reid was a prolific quilter, and many of her pieces were story quilts that incorporated pictures of her ancestors. One year, she had 80 pieces in the show, Lester recalled. 

At the entrance to the building, the center has created a glass case comprising items that were hand-sewn by Reid.

Meanwhile, Lester plods on. 

“I’m inspired by everything that comes in. I keep adding to the list of things I want to do. We just get to work on such treasures,” she said. 

Museum admission is required for one-time access to the quilt exhibit, running through May 28. Admission is $6 adult; $5 senior, (ages 60 plus); $3 youth, (ages 5-12). Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday to Saturday. 

Quilters meet Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and are looking for new members who will receive sewing instruction and support. Details: 480-926-1577 or hdsouth.org. 

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By Srianthi Perera, GSN Contributor , www.gilbertsunnews.com
www.gilbertsunnews.com – Vivrr Local Results in community of type article , 2024-03-15 07:00:00
Tags: gilbert activities, gilbert quilting exhibit, gilbert hd south exhibits, gilbert hd south quilting exhibit, thing to do in gilbert

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