Armed with sewing machines, patterns and fabrics a plenty, quilters gathered at the Oak Grove Presbyterian Church in Hillsboro last weekend for the annual Pearl S. Buck Quilting Party.
The three-day event included classes taught by world-renowned quilters, as well as a coveted prize of quilt squares, which the winners of the drawing can use to make a quilt top.
“When they registered to come, we sent them a quarter yard of fabric – the same piece of fabric to everyone – and they were to make a twelve-and-a-half inch quilt block, bring it back and we have a drawing on Saturday afternoon,” co-coordinator Carroll Barlow said. “We have over a hundred, so that means five people are going to win twenty blocks and can make a quilt top with the pansy print in every block.”
The required fabric for the squares featured purple pansies. During the “party,” the quilt squares were on display and much like snowflakes, no two were alike, other than the pansy fabric.
On Friday, the class was led by Michelle Hill, of Barboursville. Hill became a quilter when she was eight-years-old at her grandmother’s side and the quilting bug never left her system.
“I went on to own an actual store,” Hill said. “I invented a product called Chenille So Easy. I go all over the world teaching what I invented and, of course, I just love quilting. It’s in my blood. Like everyone here, you breathe it. You can’t do without it. You can’t explain it. Even on a bad day, just to feel fabric gives you an incredible high and to have a project waiting to happen – it’s heaven. It’s like making a very good dinner for your family. It’s the pride in it.”
Hill taught the group how to make a Spicy Spiral Table Runner, a pattern created by School House Quilts. The pattern is a twist, literally, on the common table runner pattern. The piece slithers across the table in the form of a chunky “S.”
Students used a variety of fabric colors and designs, including a garden theme, Christmas colors, rainbow colors, and red, white and blue for a patriotic table runner.
Other classes taught during the weekend were: “Doing is Better Than Perfect – Free Motion,” taught by Betty Jo Williams; “Learn Basic Hand Quilting,” taught by Linda Adams; “Attic Window,” taught by Charlene Beverage; and Stained Glass Quilting “Harvest,” taught by Fran Kordek.
The Quilting Party began in 1997 as the brain child of Barlow and her quilting buddy Louise McNeel.
“We were coming back from a quilting party at Jackson’s Mill and it was winter,” Barlow recalled. “Louise was in her eighties and she said, ‘we can do this in Pocahontas County, in the summer.’ She was on the board of directors at Pearl S. Buck Birthplace and we worked it out and started, I think in 1997. We’ve been doing it ever since.”
The party has grown over the years and now quilters travel from Monterey, Virginia, and all over West Virginia to attend.
Sadly, Barlow said the party is not for beginners looking to start quilting. It is for people who are able to quilt and have some knowledge of quilting sewing machines.
“These are advanced beginner or intermediate classes,” she said. “We try to tell people because I don’t believe in setting people up for disappointment. You’d be swamped and you would think ‘if it’s like this, I’m never doing that again.’ It would be a bad experience.”
Barlow organizes the party with Cheryl Taylor-Dean, Linda Adams and Dawna Jo Hedrick.
For the drawing, there were a total of 112 squares, so five attendees won 20 squares, enough to make a quilt top, and four won three squares to make a table runner. Quilt top winners were: Sharon Fisher, of Green Bank; Linda Adams, of Marlinton; Linda Simmons, of Hillsboro; Connie Kinzel, of Frankford; and Ann Turner, of Marlinton.
Winners of the table runner squares were: Brenda Nelson, of Pence Springs; Dee Morgan, of Lewisburg; Barb Lewis Siers, of Elizabeth; and Michelle Hill, of Barboursville.