Quilting Ties Past to Present

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    By Barbara Davis

    A craft that traditionally served a functional purpose, to provide bed coverings and warmth, has evolved into an art, a hobby and a way to preserve heritage making it the most popular form of needlework in the country.

    Many believe quilting originated in China and Egypt simultaneously. The several-layered quilts were stitched together to trap in heat, creating a warmer coverlet than single-layered material. Quilts were also made by stitching scraps of old clothing together to utilize the material. The art of quilting has emerged as quilters began using decorative designs and attractive material.

    Jeralee Parker, a mother of four from Westminster, Colo., started her first quilt when she and her roommate wanted matching bedspreads for college. Over the years, she has found several ways to create different quilts.

    “I”ve made quilts for centerpieces on walls and window treatments,” she said.

    She also made a quilt of her son”s collection of t-shirts, creating a keepsake for him to take to college.

    The beauty of quilting is that beginners and experts can do it. The simplest method is to stack a top layer, batting and a bottom layer and secure with yarn or crochet thread using a needle. Another way is to sew several sections of material together to create a top layer. The bottom layer is then stitched to the top layer.

    A more advanced way to quilt is to connect the layers together by hand-stitching designs and patterns through the layers of material. This technique requires a quilt frame, experience and a lot of helping hands.

    Kathy Wheeler, a quilter from Logandale, Nev., belongs to a quilting group called “Material Girls.” Quilting has become a social activity for her and an opportunity to develop relationships with other quilters.

    “One of the greatest things is our association with each other,” she said.

    Wheeler added it is a link to the past. Quilting has helped her preserve her heritage and pass on the historical tradition.

    “It is engulfing and absorbing,” she said. “It gets under your skin.”

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