When I was a little girl, my sister, my best friend, and I would go every week to Mrs. Moore’s house for sewing lessons. We started with pin cushions and progressed to aprons. It wasn’t formal or school-sponsored, just something an old lady, whose middle name was Thankful, did for the young girls in the neighborhood.
The good feeling of those sewing lessons came back recently when I attended an exhibit of the Island Quilters at the fire station in Somesville, Maine, on Mount Desert Island. The admission price of $3 included a potholder of your choice. I got a great one — with sailboats.
The Island Quilters, I learned, have been getting together twice a month since 1992. Women from the villages throughout Mount Desert Island join to learn skills and participate in special projects, many of which were on display.
Quilting is an art that combines thriftiness, skill, and sentiment to create something both beautiful and practical. Although materials can be purchased for the purpose of making a quilt, it’s more traditional to accumulate fabric over time and then repurpose it into something new and wonderful. “Stacked Coins” below, made by Pat Brown in July 2010, is “what you do with a container full of odd-sized strips left over from other projects!”
Pat Brown also recycled old jeans by cutting six-inch squares from the back of the legs and combining them with left-over flannel to make a sofa throw. With each washing, she said, its seams ravel more and it becomes softer – perfect for keeping you warm on cold winter nights.
The organic process of quilting sometimes reflects the wishes of the child who is selecting the scraps from Grandma’s basket. Many of the quilts in the show were gifts for children.
Others commemorated special occasions. Mary Booher made this quilt in 1995 for the 50th birthday of two friends. At the first of the two birthdays, she collected the outlines of the hands of all of the family members. Then she selected fabrics representative of each person’s interests.
Sometimes quilts themselves are recycled. One on display was Ted and Ann’s Quilt of Appreciation, made by Mary Vekasi. Ted is the Senior Warden of the St. John and Andrew Episcopal Church in Southwest Harbor; Ann is the former Priest of the church. The quilt blocks were left over from a quilt made in 1996 by the women of the church for Reverend George Price on his retirement.
One special project of the Island Quilters is to make pillows for the troops leaving Bangor International Airport, who had previously been charged to get pillows for their flights. So far Island Quilters has donated more than 150 pillows. The project continues this fall.
Another project of several members of the Island Quilters is to make lap robes for the Oncology Department at Mount Desert Island Hospital. The patients who receive them get to keep them. This child’s quilt made by Alice Philips is one which will be donated to a medical center.
Finally, the Island Quilters wouldn’t let us forget where we were – on Mount Desert Island, Maine, a hiker’s paradise, where the people care about each other, as well as the beautiful place where they live.