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Eagle’s Trace Needleworkers raise money for scholarship fund

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February 22nd, 2010
TX0310_Quilting1
TX0310_Quilting1

Some people golf or garden to relax. Betty Roberts picks up a needle and thread and quilts. Now she and her neighbors at Eagle s Trace have turned their hobby into a way to raise money for a good cause. [caption id="attachment_8224" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Eagle s Trace Needleworkers (left to right) Betty Roberts, Jade Boebinger, Peggy Smith, Betty Collins, and Jan Quigley are busy stitching a quilt to be raffled off to benefit the Scholars Fund. (Photos by Joyce Jackson)"] I have always enjoyed needlework, says Roberts, who has been sewing and embroidering since she was seven years old. I learned it from my mother, grandmother, and my aunt who was a seamstress. By taking lessons at local quilt shops, she learned to machine quilt. But it wasn t until she moved to Eagle s Trace that she learned traditional quilting by hand. After I moved to Eagle s Trace, I met Cynthia Gibbons and Jan Quigley, who hand-quilt with a group at the Cenacle Retreat House in Houston, says Roberts. They were kind enough to teach me.

Sewing school

Together Roberts, Gibbons, and Quigley formed theEagle s TraceNeedleworkers, a club of up to 20 women who meet weekly to quilt and stitch. Since its inception, the club has completed four quilts, which have been raffled to benefit the Eagle s Trace Scholars Fund. The fund supports student staff members as they continue their formal post-secondary education including college, trade, or vocational certificate programs. [caption id="attachment_8225" align="alignright" width="280" caption="One of the Needleworkers quilts is on display in the Audubon Clubhouse at Eagle s Trace. Each quilt takes approximately one year for the group to create. (Photos by Joyce Jackson)"][/caption] We display the quilt for about a week before we raffle it off, says Gibbons. We sell tickets for $1 each or 6 tickets for $5. The raffle is open toEagle s Traceresidents, staff, as well as the general public. To date, the Needleworkers have raised nearly $4,000 for the Scholars Fund. From start to finish, Gibbons says a queen-size quilt typically takes about a year to complete and costs anywhere from $150 to $200 to make. In January, we get together and bring ideas to the table and collectively decide the style, size, and color of the quilt we are going to make, says Gibbons, who has been quilting for 17 years. Then we assign someone as the leader of the quilt, and they organize everything. Quigley has been quilting since her 50s and says that if there s one thing quilting has taught her, it s patience. You cannot do a quilt in a day, says Quigley, who also quilts graduation presents for her grandchildren. At first, I would get frustrated because I wanted to work all the time and finish my quilts quickly. But I ve learned you can t do that. You have to train yourself to take your time.

Mix and match

To the novice, quilting may seem complicated, but Gibbons says in essence it s simply cutting fabric into pieces and putting it back together again. [caption id="attachment_8227" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Bill Williams and Jan Quigley show off one of the quilts handmade by the Eagle s Trace Needleworkers. (Photos by Joyce Jackson)"][/caption] There s the top layer, which is the pattern or fabric pieces that have been sewn together into what we call blocks (typically a 15-inch square), says Gibbons. After we get our quilt pieced and the blocks made, everything is sandwiched together. The quilters then put the quilt onto a wooden quilting frame handmade by Gibbons husband, which allows them to hand-stitch the quilt as a group. Once all the blocks are sewn together and the top layer, or the face of the quilt, is done, we layer it together with batting and a backing fabric and we stitch all three parts together, says Gibbons. Currently, the Needleworkers are working on a new endeavor called a crazy quilt. We decided we wanted to do something a little more artistic this time, says Roberts. Most of the quilts we make are intended for use. We normally use fabrics made of 100% cotton because it holds up well. But with a crazy quilt, you use all different kinds of fabric from silk ties to velvet and an assortment of trimmings like lace and beads. It s really more of a keepsake than a quilt you use on your bed.

Stitch and chat

For Quigley, the companionship is as satisfying as the craft. I really enjoy the group dynamic, she says. Hand-stitching allows us to be more social than if we were machine quilting. It s very stimulating because people come up with easier or new ways to do things that you may not have thought of on your own. You get so immersed in what you re doing that you forget about all your worries and whatever is going on in the world. Roberts agrees. It s a great chance for us to get together and talk, she says. I guess you could say it s our social hour. That s the way the quilting bees were a long time ago. It s the same thing here. We have a lot of fun!

Spring tradition

While the redbuds blooming and the robins returning are sure signs spring is on the way, there s another annual celebration that indicates the seasons are changing: March is National Quilt Month and National Quilt Day is designated as the third Saturday in March. Check out these upcoming quilting events near you: What: The Last Supper Quilt Exhibit Where: First United Methodist Church Activity Center, Shiner, Texas When: Friday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 20, from ' 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Cost: Free Sponsored by the Shiner Heritage Quilters Guild For more information, visitwww.shineheritagequilters.org What: Azalea Quilt Show Where: Harvey Hall on Front Street, Tyler, Texas When: March 26 and 27 Sponsored by: the Quilters Guild of East Texas Cost: $6 For more information, visitwww.qgetx.org What: Art by the Yard Auction Where: Nathaniel Center, 804 Russell Palmer Road, Kingwood, Texas When: March 26 at 7 p.m. Sponsored by: Kingwood Area Quilt Guild Cost: $10 For more information, e-mailsandra.grogan@gmail.com

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