Eight women behind a table of quilts looking at the camers

When the long arm is the law

Originally published on qathet Living

March is National Quilting Month, and qathet is breaking out the fat quarters like never before. You can see quilts, watch quilts being made, make a quilt yourself, or get some of the skills to start you on your quilting journey. 

Here, Nina Mussellam of the Timberlane Quilters Guild, explains the local quilt scene. 

Tell me a bit about the Timberlane Quilters Guild…

Nina • We have recovered from the COVID-era gathering restrictions, and have a healthy membership once again. We are happy to finally get back to regular quilt shows. 

We meet monthly for business meetings, meet weekly for stitch and social time, and plan monthly evening demonstrations or week-end workshops all taught by our local membership. 

Our community quilts program happily produces about 30 to 40 lap quilts a year to gift to places such as the oncology department at the hospital or the Children and Family services. All our gifted quilts remain in the region.

What is the history of the quilt show?

Nina • Our last quilt show at Dwight Hall was in March of 2019 and was then put on hold due to the BC COVID rules. 

We hope that people will feel safe to come to our upcoming show March 25 and 26, and want to mingle with all our members. I think this is our 17th show and we have had them every second year since 1989. The first show was held in the Recreation Complex, and we’ve used a number of locations over the years, but we feel we have found our permanent home at the historical Dwight Hall. We are grateful to our Arts Council for the in-kind grant for the use of this historic building.

The people who love quilting really, really LOVE quilting. What’s so entrancing about it? 

Nina • I find I am still super enthused even after 35-plus years. I love to mix colours, fabric, patterns, and design my own work. The geometry exercises my brain. Time spent in my studio calms me down. It is proven that creative work in crafts or the arts is good for people’s well being.

What can people expect to see at this year’s show? Anything strange or unusual? Significant? 

Nina • Our members are not afraid of colour! Nothing bland, all exciting colour combos. Many are designed by the quilters themselves or they have adapted and changed a pattern in new and exciting ways.

March is also International Women’s Day. How are quilting and women connected? 

Nina • Well, for centuries women have been the principle people spinning and weaving the fabric for clothing or bed coverings. They have brought that skill to Canada as immigrants. The first materials were wools and linens, but by the 1800’s cottons became more available to purchase as a finished product. 

Stories are told about spending “egg money “ at the general store to purchase muslin for quilts. Calicos and muslin were collected in the 1900’s when feed sacks and flour or sugar sacks were printed with designs to encourage the housewife to purchase a company’s product. Scraps were traded by neighbours to patch clothing or bed coverings. 

Before women were allowed to vote, there were many quilts made with a silent message about a person’s political opinion. Even today, calls go out for national quilt submissions with controversial themes.

If you don’t know anything about the craft of quilting, what’s something you should do to prepare to fully appreciate what you’re seeing at the show? 

Nina • Come with an open mind that there will be displays of traditional bed quilts, mingled with art quilts to hang on the wall. 

Over the years I have been told that it’s not a real quilt if it a) it is not hand quilted or b) is not for a bed covering. I argue that any quilt can be beautiful with hand-guided machine quilting, and it can be worn as a jacket or hung on a wall like a tapestry, and still be called a quilt. 

You will see purses, table runners, cuddly couch quilts for TV watching or masterpieces that can be entered in a national juried art show. 

There will be humor and touching messages hidden in the meaning of a gifted quilt. 

There will be lots of quilters available around the hall to explain different techniques, answer questions and a demonstration table for children and families to learn about quilt block construction.

What kinds of quilts will be hung?

Nina • Many techniques will be displayed, such as patchwork, applique, free motion quilting, and our annual guild challenge. 

This year the theme was to portray something about her majesty Queen Elizabeth and use a particular fabric that was for the color platinum for her platinum jubilee. We are all eager to see this unveiled.  

Top photo credit: The Timberlane Quilters Guild in action. Seated are MaryAnne Hatch and Dianne Hatch. Behind, from left to right are Donna Sand, Mick McClo- sky, Myrt Brewster, Moreen Reed, Kathleen O’Malley and Wanda Shortridge.

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