By B.C. Manion
Whether they do it to express their creative spirits, calm their souls or welcome new babies into the world quilters have at least one thing in common — when they finish their work, they have something to show for it.
This weekend, the works of quilt makers will be on display at the 22nd annual Farm Fest & Quilt Show at the Pioneer Florida Museum.
Besides viewing quilts, quilt enthusiasts can purchase items to use in their craft and can bring quilts in to have them appraised.
For those interested in quilting, it is never too late to start, said Jim Denison, a sixth-generation quilter who learned how to cut quilt squares at the age of 9. Anybody who wants to learn to quilt, can, the Dade City man said.
Sara Ross, who also comes from a long line of quilters, observed “there are probably as many reasons people quilt as there are people who quilt.”
“I started sewing when I was about 9 years old at a treadle sewing machine at my mama’s knee,” the Dade City woman said.
“I remember going to my aunt Emma’s and the ceiling was open. She had a quilting frame hanging from those rafters and when we would come over she would let that quilt frame down, and whatever quilt was there, they’d quilt or tie it.
“The kids would play underneath. Every once in awhile, they’d let us have a needle.
Denison’s grandmother had an open ceiling with a quilt frame, too.
“When the family got together, the women all gathered around the quilt frame and spread the news and shared recipes and pieced and quilted,” he said.
“The kids got put to work cutting out patches or tearing strips or something to keep their little hands busy,” said Denison, who has been quilting nearly 60 years.
Donna Lillibridge, who owns a downtown Dade City shop called Quilts on Palm Lane, began quilting after her children were born through private lessons. She opened her shop about nine years ago, after being unable to find what she needed at other shops.
Kay Morrow, who divides her time between Dade City and Michigan, said she has sewn all her life but didn’t make her first quilt until February 2004.
Since then, she’s made 140 quilts.
Morrow said she’s inspired by fabrics and patterns.
Denison enjoys the challenge of creating new designs. “I’m a fiber artist,” he said.
Lillibridge enjoys having a creative outlet, but also cherishes the sense of serenity that steals over her as she’s quilting.
“When I’m making a quilt, I don’t think about paying the bills. I don’t think of other things. It’s very relaxing. I look up and it’s 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s ‘Whoa, where have I been?’ ”
Besides deriving pleasure from making quilts, it’s also satisfying to share them with loved ones, or give them to others in need, the Dade City quilters said.
“I practically paid for my high school reunion with quilts that I made and raffled, to cut the cost of people coming,” Ross said. “It has gotten to the point where reunions can be very expensive.”
Denison makes them for his grandchildren and for wedding presents.
“I also give them to people who I know need something to cling to,” he said, mentioning people with cancer or AIDS. “It gives them a sense that somebody cares about them.
“When my wife became bed-bound, she asked for one of my quilts and she kept that quilt until the day she died.”
Lillibridge often donates quilts for drawings sponsored by charities.
Morrow said she becomes very attached to her quilts and doesn’t part with many. And she never sells them.
When a woman told Morrow’s husband she’d like to buy one of his wife’s quilts, he politely informed her: “No. You just have to be a friend and she’ll give you one.”
The 22nd annual Farm Fest & Quilt Show
Featuring approximately 200 quilts, including hanging quilts and bed quilts, and quilted fashions, including handbags, purses, hats, jackets, etc.
The show is at the Pioneer Florida Museum, 15602 Pioneer Museum Road, about a mile north of Dade City off US 301.
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