Annual show presented by a metro quilting guild brings fabric art to masses 

Quilting enthusiasts from all over the state will come together Thursday through Saturday for the Central Oklahoma Quilters Guild show. But this isn't your grandmother's quilt show.


Well, she might be involved, but this isn't octogenarian-only.

This year's quilt show is called "A Time to Shine 2009" and will feature more than 380 quilts to be judged, said Linda Williams, co-chair.

The event boasts more than 42 vendors eager to sell quilters the latest tools and trends for their hobby. The quilt show will also have a special exhibit featuring 52 pieces from Evelyn Day, the guild's former president, Williams said.

Betty Jo Haines and Dixie Haywood started the Central Oklahoma Quilters Guild in 1980 to promote the art of quilting. Today, the group has around 500 members all over the metro area who meet once a month. Members also meet in small groups and work on projects together, Williams said.

The group is comprised of women, men and youngsters, the youngest being 17, said Georgann Giudice, spokeswoman for the guild.

"Men have always been a part of design, whether it be clothes or interior design. Engineers and mathematicians found that their skills translated into this hobby," she said.

Although the guild is primarily dedicated to quilting, its members have worked on some historical projects. In 1985, Haines proposed that the guild collect all 1,068 of the quilt patterns that were published in The Kansas City Star from 1928 to 1961, Williams said. Haines' goal was to collect these and make a book for other quilters to use the antique patterns.

With permission from The Kansas City Star, the guild collected the patterns, revamped and quilted them, and put the results on black panels. The edited patterns were published in a five-volume set that is available for sale at the show.

The guild also published a book titled "Oklahoma Heritage Quilts," which is a compilation of photographs of historic quilts from Oklahoma, Day said.

"They picked these different regions (to search)," she said. "Every area of the state was touched."

The book is out-of-print, but is available on CD for purchase, she said.

To some, quilting may seem like dull, tedious work that produces strange, archaic-looking blankets to be brought out only when Grandma is over for the holidays. But to the members of the Central Oklahoma Quilters Guild, it is an exciting, innovative art form, as well as a valuable social networking tool.

Giudice started quilting with her grandmother when she was 7 years old. Giudice has continually moved throughout her life and has used quilting as a way to connect her to each community in which she lived.

"Finding local quilt guilds was something I always did when I moved," she said.

Giudice said she believes quilting is an art because everything has to be strategically planned and thought out, much like a painting or a sculpture. Some of the pieces that are on display at the show are very beautiful, she said.

"It's nothing like you ever saw on your grandmother's bed," she said.

Day has also seen her fair share of traveling, with a husband in the military. She began teaching quilting in Duluth, Minn., in 1975. After Duluth, she packed up and moved to Iran, where she taught quilting students from all over the world, including the American ambassador's wife, she said. In Saudi Arabia, Day converted her master bedroom into a quilting room and continued to teach.

"The shopping was great (in Saudi Arabia)," she said. "There were fabrics from all over the world."

From Australia, Bali and Japan to Egypt, England and Africa, Day took her love of quilting all over the world.

In true artistic fashion, she said there are many projects that she has started but has yet to complete, such as some 250 quilt tops waiting to be made.

"I always tell people that I'm not a topless quilter," she said.

Her years of dedication to the art of quilting generated 52 pieces of work, which will be on display at the show.

"Why they picked me, I don't know. It's probably because I'm crazy," she said.

In addition to the exhibits will be an opportunity for visitors to quilt tops for blankets that will be given to Passageway Domestic Violence Shelter, operated by the YWCA, Giudice said. The goal is to give a quilt to each child who has been a victim of family violence, she said.

This act of kindness mirrors Day's philosophy of quilting.

"Different people quilt for different reasons," she said. "(You quilt) to pass the time, be creative, celebrate joyous occasions and to grieve."

Giudice said quilting satisfies the human need to accomplish something. Throughout the decades, the act has been a reflection of what society was like, she said.

"In the Depression, (quilting) was done because they had to use every scrap of fabric they had, but in Victorian periods, it was used to show off skills," she said.

Day said quilting has always had a social aspect, and when homes were far apart, quilting was people's way to connect with each other.

"Women got together to gossip and to celebrate," she said. "(Quilting) was their social event of the season." "Jamie Birdwell

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Jamie Birdwell

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