March 17 was both St. Patrick’s Day and World Quilting Day, so to celebrate those two designations I had a few friends and neighbors in for a Quilting Bee.
Here’s the image from the invitation. How ya like the pussyhats I added?
Now, I have to admit that I entered this whole Quilting Bee idea as pretty much a lark – a way to celebrate International Quilting Day and an excuse to get some folks into my home and studio for some socializing and fun. What I did not anticipate is how seriously all my guests took our task at hand. About twenty folks showed up during the course of the afternoon. Several, almost all of them beginners, sat at the frame and WORKED HARD for several hours, giving us a great start on the project.
Our Middle Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Outreach Manager Henry Jacobs tries his hand at quilting, assisted by his girlfriend, Robin, and instructed by veteran quilter Virginia.
We got some serious talkin’ done, too – and lots of laughing. Indications were that a good time was had by all!
My guess is that a large part of what motivated the St. Patrick’s Day Quilters was the story behind the top we were quilting, and here it is:
Several years ago, I went through a phase of buying unquilted quilt tops off ebay. They’re cheap, and some of them are beautiful. I pretty much stopped this practice when after ten or so purchases I realized that, like the original maker, I’d probably never in my lifetime have enough time to get the things quilted.
But back to the St. Patrick’s Day Quilting Bee – As guests arrived, I pointed out that the top features sixteen signatures, as well as the date 1936, embroidered on one of the blocks. I also pointed out that there is no indication as to where – as in location – the quilt came from. But I had done a cursory bit of ancestry.com research and learned that without much doubt the quilt had originated in Springfield, Ohio. On the bulletin board in my studio, the site of the St. Patrick’s Day Quilting Bee, I had posted a typed list of the names of the signees, along with bits of information I had been able to glean on some of them from the 1930 and 1940 census records of Springfield, Ohio. I ended my little presentation by announcing that my goal was to, in due fashion, get the top quilted and return it to its community of origin.
I’m still trying to figure out what so motivated my guests at the St. Patrick’s Day Quilting Bee. Maybe it was simply the opportunity to try a hand at quilting. Maybe it was the connection to the women whose names adorn the 1936 quilt top. Maybe it’s the notion of the eventual community exchange. Maybe it was a combination of all these possibilities, plus the tableful of homemade goodies guests had, unsolicited, brought to the bee.
At any rate, quite a few of us are excited about this project and intend to see it through. I plan to put my own thimble into action and get some serious progress made on the quilt, after which we’ll have a follow-up bee or two to finish the piece. And, eventually, we might even talk about a trip up to Springfield, Ohio, a place I’ve surely never been.
A note about invitations: I tried to invite folks via Facebook private event, but I’m afraid that some invitees did not see the invitation. (I know that because Facebook shows me a list of who’s seen the invite and who has not.) My apologies for that. Next time I’ll try a different method of inviting, to make sure that the invitation is more public.
Many thanks to sister Ginger Swint and husband Fred Fussell for helping host. Special thanks, too, to the veteran quilters who helped instruct others at the frame. Thanks to everybody who brought goodies. And thanks to everybody who came. I look forward to our next Quilting Bee!
Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few more photos from the bee --