CELEBRATING QUILTERS AND QUILTS WHILE RESTORING AN OPERA HOUSE – Around The Frame

Novice quilter Chris Winters is hard at work on his second quilt project.

The third Saturday of March is International Quilting Day and this year a new quilter will be counted amongst us. A couple of months ago I got an E-mail from 20-year-old Chris Winters asking me if I could teach him how to quilt. I invited him to come down to my studio so I could learn more about what type of quilting he wanted to learn to determine whether I or someone else would make the best teacher to match his desired outcome.

So on a snowy Saturday Chris arrived and my friend Priscilla and I learned his story. Two events sparked Chris’ desire to learn to quilt. One was when he came across a book on the quilts and quiltmakers from Gee’s Bend, Alabama (bit.ly/2Vd2yf6) “I thought they were beautiful patchwork from whatever materials were available, vibrant colors and crazed patterns. It really got me thinking that quilting and associated crafts could be a lot bigger than just…. Well crafts. It could be a storied piece of art.”

The second event was when he came out and got more involved in the LGBT community. “From going to different pride events I saw pieces of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and it struck a chord: quilting can be a community healer and much more.”

Chris chose to do a log cabin block as his first quilt project. He selected from the “Pots of Scraps” pieces of reds and greens in various shades and tints. The back fabric and batting piece were remnants so it was truly a scrappy-use-what-you-can-scrounge affair. Chris started learning the basics from how to “pull a thread” to using a rotary cutter, which Chris thought felt uncomfortable in his hand until he learned he had picked up the left-handed one!

By now Chris was really into the project. Thanks to our combined Joann Fabrics coupons Chris purchased a portable Singer sewing machine, pins, an assortment of needles, seam ripper, thread and other notions.

While I waited on customers, Priscilla patiently explained to him how to lay down the center red square and strip sew the first log in place. Over the next couple of weeks, the progress continued and once all were in place, she taught him how to machine quilt in the ditch.

In between customers I shared quilting books with Chris including one with dozens of variations on his basic log cabin created by colors and placement and a book on Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture transformed into quilts. Chris wanted to know whether I knew any male quiltmakers and Casey Drudge master of three-dimensional quilts was called and came by to introduce Chris to his prize-winning quilts.

So now it is time for Chris to attend his first quilt show. A few weeks ago, when the weather was at its worse, I closed BAQ and had the noticed crawled on the TV stations. I got an e-mail from Colleen Richter of the Huber Opera House (huberoperahouse.org) in Hicksville, Ohio, stating she saw it, checked out the website and wrote to invite me to be a vendor at their upcoming quilt show to benefit the building’s restoration. I told her I would not only vend but would bring Casey along as a demonstrator and perform quilt autopsies for a $5 donation to benefit this 1882 landmark.

On either March 30 or 31st, Chris will attend his first quilt show which just like the AIDS Memorial Quilt will show the spirit of a community and its quilters coming together for the benefit of a great cause. Look for the Huber Opera House announcement in the March Waynedale News issues for details.

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them.

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Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer