Those of you who have attended a Bed Turning before know what a treat to expect and those of you who are here for your first Bed Turning will soon find out.
We have 18 quilts to show you today and we will “turn them back” one at a time and tell you a bit about each one.
We hope that you will see how the theme of this year’s show, “Quilts: Pieces of Our Lives” comes to life as we tell you the very special stories of these quilts.
TREE OF LIFE – C. 1840
Our first quilt, a Tree of Life Quilt, belongs to guild member Natalie Norris. The style of this quilt and the fabrics used indicate a “birthdate” of about 1840 or before and it was made somewhere in the Baltimore, mid-Atlantic region.
This quilt is particularly interesting because instead of using chintz fabric, typical of this style, the maker used all calico fabric, mainly dressmaker fabric. Most women’s clothing was sewn at home in the 1800’s and the style and cut of the dresses at that time created lots of leftover fabric. And, just like today, women were constantly updating their wardrobes which meant a steady supply of scraps for their quilts.
Also notable about this quilt is its size. From the 1700’s to the mid 1800’s beds were very large. Also they were often very tall so a trundle bed could be stored underneath and the quilts were made to cover both the main bed and the trundle. Quilts were made anywhere from 108” square to 144” square dwarfing today’s king sized quilts.
EPPERLY FAMILY SIGNATURE QUILT
Our next quilt, the Epperly Family Signature Quilt, was made by guild member Loretta Bedia.
Signature quilts are also known as Friendship quilts or Album quilts. We can think of them as a cloth version of an autograph book as the quilt is pieced with space reserved for signatures.
For Loretta this quilt is a remembrance of her father and her family. As long as she can remember her Dad’s family, the Epperlys, have held a reunion on Labor Day. Her Dad passed away in 2005 and in 2006 she decided to make quilt blocks and have family members sign them with whatever they wanted to share. After two years she joined the blocks into a quilt.
The center square, set on point, is a picture of Loretta’s parents. The surrounding eight blocks were signed by their eight children, her siblings. The picture at the top of the quilt, taken around 1917, is of her Dad as an infant with his parents. All of the other blocks are signed by grandchildren, nieces, nephews and her Dad’s sister.
This quilt was machine pieced by Loretta and hand quilted by the Carter Street Quilters of Radford, VA. Loretta’s sister, Anna, was a member of this group.
THE YEAR OF LIVING ADVENTUROUSLY
This quilt was made by guild member Barbara Badger and is titled “The Year of Living Adventurously.” She made it as a memory quilt to celebrate the year she spent in Kenya, East Africa as an exchange student at the University of Nairobi.
Barbara purchased her fabrics in the United States choosing colors that reminded her of Kenya and its landscape. She did the machine piecing at a mystery quilt retreat.
What is a mystery quilt? For many quilters it is a fun way to make a quilt where the final look of the quilt remains a “mystery” until the individual quilt blocks are put together to form the quilt top. It is a leap of faith and a really fun way to surprise even the quilt maker.
The quilting was done by her cousin, Kim Buterbaugh, on a longarm sewing machine. Barbara asked her to quilt it with special reminders of her year such as the names of the game parks she visited and the word safari. Barbara had also done a sketch of a Masai woman that she asked Kim to quilt in each corner.
This wonderful quilt won Best of Show at the Michigan State Fair in 2007.
Our next quilt is made in the Drunkard’s Path pattern.
As you can see the Drunkard’s Path block makes one think of a drunkard’s staggering walk. Ironically this block became associated with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union founded in 1874. Quilting to promote social change and raise awareness for a cause has a long history and Temperance was no exception.
The many feed sacks used in this quilt suggest that it was made in the 1930’s or 1940’s. It is not an easy pattern as the blocks are made by sewing a concave curve to a convex curve usually with lots of pins and, in some cases, “lots of cussing”! It is hand pieced and hand quilted with a fun blue and white polka dot backing.
This quilt was purchased in a small antique shop in Rocky Mount, VA by guild member Cathy Fandel. It seemed the perfect pattern to her as she lives in Franklin County, long known as the Moonshine Capital of the World. And the land where she and her husband live in Ferrum contains the remains of at least 4 submarine type stills. But that’s a whole different story!
This stunning Yo-Yo quilt is owned by guild member Ginny Vaden who purchased it at an estate sale in Charlottesville, VA.
It measures 102” by 108” and contains an astounding 1720 individual yo-yos. Even more amazing is the fact that Ginny removed some of the original yo-yos so it would fit her bed. The original top had 2223 yo-yos.
Each yo-yo starts with a small 5” circle of fabric with a running stitch hand stitched along its edges. The stitches are then carefully gathered in to create the finished 2 and a half inch circle giving it a three dimensional “puffy” look. The fabrics used in this quilt suggest that it was made during the last 50 years.
A very popular style from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, it takes many hours of sewing. Yo-Yo quilts also require perfection of the seamstress as all the circles must be exactly the same size in order for the quilt to be pieced together correctly.
And does the name Yo-Yo have anything to do with the toy Yo-Yo? Absolutely! The toy, invented in the Philippines over 100 years ago, was very popular in the United States in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The round shape of the toy was associated with the round yo-yos and fueled the popularity of this quilt style.
But this quilt style is hardly a relic of the past. A recent web search on the craft site etsy turned up an astonishing 847 results using yo-yos not just in quilts but in clothing, pillows and other home decor projects.
INJURED SOLDIER QUILT
It has been written that whenever there is an armed conflict quilt makers will gather together to provide aid. The Injured Soldier quilt that you see here is just one in a very long line of quilts made to comfort the military and their families.
Our quilt guild has a very long history of donations of what we call “Comfort Quilts.” Made by guild members, they are given locally to Ronald McDonald House, Family Promise, the Blue Ridge Women’s Center, Bethany Hall, Ram House, Turning Points Shelter and Ransom Street. Over the last 15 years, the Star Quilters Guild has donated a total of 1617 quilts to those in need in our community!
In 2003 there was a desire by many in the guild to help returning injured soldiers in some way. So in addition to the comfort quilts we began to support the Quilters Guild of Southern Maryland. Their mission was to give a quilt or afghan to every injured soldier coming back through Andrews Air Force Base.
When the program ended in 2011 nearly 12,000 quilts, afghans and fleece blankets had been given to our injured military with many coming from our guild. One returning soldier summed it up this way, when he saw the quilt and it was placed on him he knew he was “home and would be taken care of.”
Since our guild was still interested in giving back to our military, we decided to give locally through the Salem Veterans volunteer office. The veterans who continue to receive the quilts are thankful for the recognition and touched that complete strangers give them something made with so much love.
WAR OF 1812 COMMEMORATIVE QUILT
Our next quilt is also the oldest that we will see today and was made to commemorate the War of 1812. It is owned by guild member Natalie Norris.
The center medallion on this quilt is a kerchief designed to commemorate the war. It depicts famous battles, battle ships and military leaders of the war. Lady Liberty is found in one corner and there are many eagles pictured. And near the top of the kerchief, “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” is written along with “Huzza, Huzza”. The quilt was made sometime after 1814 as that date can be found on the kerchief. The cut out corners for a four poster bed and the Prussian blue fabrics used in the quilt also indicate that it was probably made between 1820 and 1830.
It is fascinating to imagine the life of the woman who sat and pieced, quilted and bound this quilt nearly 200 years ago. Did she have a father, a brother, a husband, or perhaps all three who fought in the war? And did they come home?
LOG CABIN MEDALLION STYLE QUILT
We most often associate the making of quilts with joyful celebrations, but sometimes quilters will use the challenges of quilting to ease their grief and help them heal from a personal loss. This quilt was made by guild member Judi Byrd in 2014 after the death of a close friend.
Judi challenged herself in a number of ways: she would use only fabrics she already owned, and she would teach herself to become skilled at piecing log cabin blocks, half square triangle blocks and flying geese blocks. She also wanted to become more proficient at appliqué.
This is a medallion style quilt made up of several borders built around a central block. It is the same style as the War of 1812 quilt with the central kerchief, but Judi used pieced Log Cabin blocks at the center.
She then designed a different border each time she enlarged her quilt. The center is surrounded by a border of half square triangles. The next border features both appliqué and more log cabin blocks. She followed this with a pieced border of flying geese and pinwheel blocks and then a final pieced border of hourglass blocks.
I think we can see that Judy’s challenge to herself was a success and the proof of that success is right here in her quilt.
ROSE OF SHARON #1
Our next two quilts are both family quilts that belong to guild member Susan Kraterfield and both are made in the Rose of Sharon pattern. This pattern is traditional as a marriage quilt. The name, Rose of Sharon, is based on the beautiful love poem from the Song of Solomon.
This Rose of Sharon quilt was probably made in the early 1900’s and has been passed down in Susan’s family with the maker unknown.
It is made using the traditional red and green solid cotton fabrics, and is hand appliquéd and hand quilted. It has an elaborate appliqué border that is a hallmark of this beautiful pattern.
But it is the hand quilting that is so unusual. Was the maker a bit of a rebel? The subtle quilting designs feature card suits like diamonds and hearts placed in the block centers and the inter-block seams. Since many churches in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s forbid card playing it would have been a very risqué choice for our unknown maker.
ROSE OF SHARON #2
Our second Rose of Sharon was made by Susan in the early 1970’s. The antique version that we just saw was her inspiration. She bought a quilting book and she says she started studying that “quilt in the linen closet.” She learned to quilt by copying it, but replaced the old fashioned red and green with the “hip” harvest colors of burnt orange and olive green. It was, after all, 1971!
She began it just after high school graduation and worked on it during her college years. The appliqué was completed the summer before her senior year. She purchased a quilting hoop and put it in a place of honor in her senior dorm room. Fortunately her roommate thought it added real class to the room and was delighted. She quilted all fall and the quilt spent her last college semester on her dorm bed.
Susan says that the quilt will probably last forever as it is made largely of 100% polyester fabrics, but she has been quilting ever since winning many award ribbons along the way.
Her advice to new quilters makes an important point. She never tells new quilters to pick an easy pattern to start, but to pick one that they love. She feels that the sewing needs to make you happy and the workmanship will improve with time, but first you must cultivate a joy in quilting.
CHICKEN SCRATCH QUILT
This Chicken Scratch quilt was made by Sylvia Whitlow of Check, VA. It measures 80” by 80” and is made up of twenty-five – 16” blocks- arranged 5 across and 5 down.
But what is Chicken Scratch? It is a type of embroidery done on gingham fabric that gives the finished look of lace that you see here. The base for this quilt is plain red gingham fabric with a ¼ inch check.
Three simple embroidery stitches are used: the double cross stitch most visible here in the navy thread, the straight running stitch, and the woven circle stitch. In this quilt the woven circle stitch is used in the stars. It is embroidered in white thread in the white part of the gingham squares and alternates with the double cross stitch in the red squares. Sylvia used fine cotton crochet thread for her embroidery.
The origin of this technique is uncertain but it does date to early America. It is also known as Snowflaking, Amish embroidery and lace stitch.
A full size quilt like Sylvia’s is a rare and ambitious project. Each block takes her 4 days of all day sewing to complete.
SERENITY AMONG THE STARS
Like many quilters, guild member Claire Hightower was inspired to make a quilt in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Living in California at the time, Claire says that she was motivated by many emotions: sadness, patriotism and perhaps just a need to keep busy.
This quilt was machine pieced and machine quilted by Claire. The sashing is composed of star blocks and all of the fabrics that she used have stars in them. Some came from her stash and others were purchased from the large collection of patriotic fabrics available at that time. Overall the quilt appears to be red, white and blue but there are many other colors in it as well.
When she started Claire says that she had no fixed size in mind, but working on it brought her peace so she just kept quilting. The finished quilt, a large twin, was completed in 2002.
Claire titled her quilt, “Serenity Among the Stars” because she did find the serenity she sought as she worked on it.
This is a hand pieced and hand quilted Lone Star quilt made of solid pastel colors on a white background. The fabrics suggest it was made in the 1930’s or 1940’s. It is owned by guild member Gisela O’Conner.
The fun story of this quilt is the story of the silent auction where Gisela and her husband Patrick purchased it. They were at the Paducah Quilt show in 2015 and Gisela says that Patrick’s eyes lit up when he spotted the quilt. So he penciled in a bid and they browsed the other items. When they returned there was another bid so Patrick quickly upped his bid. Gisela went off to a lecture leaving Patrick to keep his eye on the bidding. The bidding went back and forth several more times and then Patrick caught a glimpse of the other bidder. His impression was that she was a dealer buying to resell to customers as she was bidding on many, many items.
When Gisela returned she found Patrick proudly holding the quilt. He had stopped the bidding by paying the full price. And Patrick said that when the other bidder realized what he had done she shot him a look that said, and I quote, “If looks could kill, your wife would be a widow!”
CATHEDRAL WINDOW # 2
This quilt was made by Linda’s mother Hazel Whalen Akers, and was begun in the late 1970’s and finished in 1980.
Cathedral window quilts capture the beauty of stained glass church windows and allow us to bring that beauty into our homes. Popular in the early 1900’s, bits and pieces of fabric could be showcased within large amounts of inexpensive fabric like muslin. This made it a pattern that many could afford to make and because it was made block by block it was very portable.
Cathedral Window quilts are quite different from traditional quilts that consist of a pieced top, batting and backing that are layered up and then quilted. This quilt is made up of individual squares of fabric that are folded precisely and sewn with curves to create the small windows you see here. They require no batting or backing and the quilting is done as you make each block. Once all of the squares are completed they are sewn together to make the finished quilt.
As we can see, Hazel was a wonderful and accomplished seamstress and every stitch in this quilt would have been done by hand.
Like Mother, Like Daughter?
Certainly not in the style of piecing or fabric choices, but absolutely in their exceptional skills. How wonderful it is when a mother can pass her love of quilting and sewing on to her daughter.
Our next quilt was made by guild member Elsie Bailey as a result of a class given by Jinny Beyer at her studio in Falls Church, VA. Elsie signed up for the class because it was advertised as a hand piecing class, but discovered, to her dismay, that the focus was to be color and design. She drove home down route 81 saying to herself, ”Will I or Won’t I” take the class? Well she did and this is the quilt that she made.
Jinny challenged the students to pick their own design using a single shape repeating it over the entire quilt. A retired math teacher, Elsie went back to an exercise she had used with her 6th grade students. She choose a diamond as her shape – a four sided two dimensional shape, and used the placement of her fabrics to create the three dimensional look you see here.
The quilt was hand pieced by Elsie and was hand quilted by Mary Haskins.
“IS IT A MODERN QUILT?”
There are several characteristics of modern quilts that we see here: the graphic use of solid color, the large areas of negative space, and the exaggerated scale. But as we mentioned before it is both hand pieced and hand quilted which is very traditional.
We are fortunate to have the Roanoke Modern Quilt Guild here today as the show’s Featured Quilt Artists. Please be sure to stop at their booth to see their quilts and learn more about the modern quilt movement. Then perhaps you can answer the question, “Is it Modern?”
DOUBLE WEDDING RING
Our next quilt is a beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt owned by Leonard and Betty Baker of Salem, VA.
Of all the quilt patterns using rings, the Double Wedding Ring, is probably the best known. Made as early as the late 1800’s, the Double Wedding Ring was most popular from the 1920’s to the 1940’s.
This quilt was made in 1979 by Leonard’s mother, Edna Baker, and given as a Christmas gift to Leonard and Betty. It is hand pieced and hand quilted. The tiny pieces that form the rings were cut using templates and Edna probably cut the templates from cardboard. Edna also used the same navy and white fabrics in the connecting squares throughout the quilt.
But the sweet story of this quilt begins many years earlier, long before the first stitch was taken.
Edna Baker was born in 1919 in Springfield, Missouri. She was married and the mother of three sons and Leonard was the oldest. She also worked at JJ Newberry’s in Springfield. Betty, who was in high school at the time, worked at Newberry’s after school and rode the same bus home with Edna. Leonard had enlisted in the Air Force at 17 and was stationed in cold far off Labrador in northeastern Canada. His 18th birthday was approaching and Edna asked Betty if she would send him a card. She did and Leonard wrote to thank her for the card. She wrote back and then he wrote back and the rest, as they say, “is history.” Betty and Leonard will celebrate their 61st Wedding Anniversary in May!
Looking at this quilt we can see that Edna was a very skilled and accomplished seamstress and quilter. But I think that you would agree that her matchmaking skills were even more extraordinary!
Our final quilt brings us back to where we started with a second Tree of Life quilt made by guild member Nancy Oldham.
Tree of Life quilts have a long and special history due to the symbolic nature of the tree inside the Garden of Eden. The leaves are said to represent life, health and happiness and the tree to represent knowledge and prosperity. The history of the pattern goes back well over 450 years with one in a museum in the Netherlands made in 1610. Here in the United States the Charleston Museum in South Carolina has an example made in the 1700’s.
Nancy’s quilt is an original art quilt that she made as a memorial for her mother who, she says, “battled lymphoma with faith and optimism.” Nancy depicts her mother’s battle with an old apple tree, showing it both beaten and weak while at the same time growing new branches. The circle of life that governs all of our days is captured beautifully in this amazing quilt.