Quilt show blanketed in variety and passion

PieceMaking in the Valley, the biannual quilt show, runs Oct. 17 and 18 at Chilliwack Alliance Church.

Yvonne McIntosh (pink top) shows two visitors the detailed work of a quilt in progress at the Sardis Library.

Diversity is the main focus at next weekend’s PieceMaking in the Valley quilt show.

“There is such a wide variety of quilts that there’s something for everybody,” says Janet Skulsky, show co-chair, and member of the Chilliwack PieceMakers Quilting Guild.

Instead of showcasing a featured quilter, this year they’re focusing on the many talents of the guild’s quilters. About two-thirds of the 80 members will have quilts on display next weekend.

There will be traditional quilts, modern quilts, table runners, wall hangings, and art quilts. They range in size from nine inches square, to large 108-inch-by-130-inch pieces.

“There’s no limitations with quilting. Quilters can do anything and everything. We just have fun with it,” says Lyn Robinson, fellow show co-chair.

Visitors will find variety not just in the types of quilts, but the materials used as well.

One artist incorporates pottery with her quilts. Another transfers photos onto her quilts. Some use soldering irons to cut the fabric.

There will be metal, extension cords, beads, and burlap sacks sewn into some pieces. Others have been spray painted with car paint, hand-dyed, and hand-painted.

“I like the fact that there are no boundaries,” says Skulsky. “I don’t just use fabric, I use other things. I like to do art quilting and handwork.”

“They are not just a bed quilts, they are pieces of art,” she adds.

The ‘community quilts’ section is new this year. On display will be quilts hung and used throughout the community including an interchangeable nursery rhyme quilt made by Friends of the Chilliwack Libraries, a quilted book at the Sardis Library called ‘Rhyme Time’, a nurse’s quilt made by people at the Chilliwack Public Health Unit, and a scenic one featuring various buildings and sites in Chilliwack.

The latter quilt was made in 1979 by 30 members of the Heritage Quilters. They sewed 20 appliquéd blocks which include various local scenes such as the old courthouse, Cultus Lake, St. Thomas Church, and Coqualeetza.

There will also be demonstrations throughout the weekend.

Ursula Yeo is one of a handful of guild members who will be leading one of the demos.

She’ll be showing quilters the different ways of using fabric scraps, and how to organize the tiny pieces. Yeo will also do a wrap bowl demo (bowls made with coils of fabric-wrapped rope), and scrap quilting.

Other demos include English paper piecing, hand quilting, and half- and quarter-square triangles.

PieceMaking in the Valley also features the Merchants’ Mall with about 10 vendors, and a tea room with sandwiches, desserts and tea and coffee.

“There is a huge amount of variety. It’s our chance to show off, but it is a fundraiser to promote the quilting in our community and raise funds to make the quilts that we donate,” says Robinson.

Each year, the guild donates 140 ‘We Care’ quilts to places such as the Chilliwack Hospice Society, Ann Davis Transition Society, and Better Beginnings.

“One mom from Better Beginnings was so thrilled because it was the only thing handmade that her baby had,” says Skulsky.

They quilt because they’re so passionate about it.

“We really get carried away. Quilting just sucks you right in,” says Robinson. “A lot of us just make them to give them away; it’s something to be able to feed your habit.”

Their significant others think they’re a bit crazy.

“Our husbands say ‘they buy perfectly good fabric, cut it up and then sew it back together again.’ But that’s what quilters do,” laughs Robinson.

And it’s worth it. You can’t even compare a store-bought quilt with a hand-made one, she says.

“The fact that you can bring something up and tuck it around you — that’s what makes a quilt,” says Robinson. “It’s just an amazing feeling because you know that someone has made it.”

PieceMaking in the Valley runs Friday, Oct. 17 from 5 to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show will be held at the Chilliwack Alliance Church at 8700 Young Rd. Admission is $5, and husbands and children under 12 get in for free.

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