Quilting today would have great grandma raising her eyebrows in astonishment.
Fibre arts, as quilting is now known, has its own culture, which has grown up over the years. It has progressed from sitting around a neighbourhood quilting circle to retreats that draw in quilters from across the province. One of these retreats took place during the weekend of Oct. 14-16 in 100 Mile House.
Participants from Vancouver Island, Williams Lake, Kamloops, and even one lady from New Brunswick travelled to town to participate in the three-day event hosted by Dancing Quilt owner Faith Andre.
She said the point of a weekend retreat is to come in on Friday, set up your machine, and then just leave it there for three days. That way Andre said you set up once and clean up once.
“All that’s kind of neat, isn’t it? And then if you have the food, you know, provided then you can really just concentrate on quilting,” she said. “No husband, no dog and no distractions.”
Some quilt retreats are set up in lodges with participants eating and sleeping there throughout the retreat. The machines are located in a ballroom or gymnasium with quilters going up to their rooms when they get tired.
“Then you can come down in your pyjamas at midnight if you want,” said Andre.
Cruise ships are also a popular idea for retreats. Quilters can partake in the ship’s entertainments and day trips in addition to quilting.
“We’re a serious crowd of hobbyists.”
This retreat featured Diane Jensen, Andre said, a special teacher who has won awards for her quilting. She is a wonderful storyteller and teacher and many people sign up for classes just because she is teaching.
Quilters are also a very social bunch, Andre said.
“We encourage each other, we help each other pick colours. Sometimes, somebody will make a mistake that needs to be picked – someone with better eyes will pick it out. Everyone helps everyone, so it is very much a community.”
Variations on traditional quilting include painting fabrics, thread play (a free motion sewing technique used to create lines, areas of colour and texture or embroidery designs and motifs by machine; threads in various colours and weights are used to stitch on top of a base fabric.), applique, embroidery, Victorian crazy quilts, and raggy quilts.
“Quilting is no longer the same old, same old. There’s always something new and something for everyone,” she said.