Workshop, bed turning, exhibit to take place during reenactment weekend

Honoring the Quilters

By MIMI BECKER

Arts Commission of

Danville/Boyle County

Throughout history, citizens have gathered to work on community projects. Men built barns, plowed fields, constructed churches, fought wars. As a particular project was finished, they moved on to another and participated as time and circumstances permitted.

Women, too, have done their part. From the creation of historical records such as the Bayeux Tapestry, or embroidery, to commemorative flags, needle arts have brought women together for a common community end.

While some of these incredible creations are depicted in historical records, the products and events which brought women together are most often associated with common needs. Sending a bride off to her marriage and new home with sufficient linens and an appropriate trousseau or preparing a layette for a young mother-to-be were opportunities to bring women together to outfit one of the local ladies and to socialize.

Women also pitched in resources and time to contribute to the community as a whole. Today, groups such as the Pieceable Friends Quilt Guild meet periodically throughout the year to stitch quilts to donate to programs which serve displaced children, children in hospitals and veterans returning from service. Quilts are often donated to auctions to raise funds to support projects from scholarships to disaster relief.

Incredible as it seems, even during times of great trials in our country, needle arts were worked with great pride and attention to design and technique. When fabric was precious and expensive, the tiniest scraps would be saved and subsequently incorporated into intricate and complex designs. To the women who crafted these pieces, the possibility that the quilt would be lost or never seen again did not matter. The need to provide physical warmth and perhaps emotional comfort was most important.

In so many ways, it is important to keep the stories of these arts and the women who created them alive. This year, the Pieceable Friends Quilt Guild and the Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County are sponsoring Honoring the Quilters, a three day program to carry on the traditions of quilting during the period of the American Civil War.

Honoring the Quilters will be held Oct. 5-7 during the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Perryville. All events will take place at the Jamboree in Perryville.

The Quilter’s Workshop will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct.5-6. Quilters will be introduced to Civil War era blocks, how to create them and the history behind them. Workshop leaders Linda Marean and Sheila Dolan will guide participants to create a Civil War style project such as those promoted by women’s groups to serve the men on the front. Both Marean  and Dolan are well known instructors in the field of quilting, fabrics and techniques especially of the Civil War era.

Workshop cost is $45 and includes both days of instruction and quilt patterns. Catered lunch is optional and may be ordered with registration.

A traditional bed turning event — quilters sharing stories about their work — will be held 5-7 p.m. Thursday and includes refreshments and discussion of Civil War replica quilts led by experienced quilters. It will be free and open to the public.

A display of Civil War replica quilts will be open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 6-7. Visitors may walk through exhibits of Civil War era sewing machines and quilting history, as well as watch demonstrations of quilting techniques. This event is also free, but donations will be accepted. 

Four different quilt block kits will be for sale for those who wish to explore quilting using authentic block designs. Kits are $10 each and include everything needed, except scissors, to complete one of four different “Potholder” quilt pieces. During the Civil War, Potholder quilts were a common form of construction. Women would complete individual squares which were backed, quilted and bound individually and then the group would whip stitch them together to be shipped off with the soldiers.

SO YOU KNOW

For information on workshop registration or to submit a quilt for exhibit, contact Mimi Becker at arts@historicdanvilleky.com.  Deadline for registration is Sept. 18. 

Sheila Dolan displays her collection of Civil War appropriate replica fabrics gathered after extensive research into the period. Sheila will be a copresenter for the workshop.