Honoring traditions, fabricating new; Meet the divas of quilting
But the biggest change came after the sewing machine was invented. That allowed women to make clothing for their families in less time, which allowed more time for quilting. And the quilts could be made on the machine instead of the tedious and time-consuming hand sewing.
These days, most quilters use machines, from the simplest to the most sophisticated ones with computerized designs and even lasers to guide the quilter around designs. (They can also run into the thousands of dollars.) There are special machines made just for quilters with longer, stronger needles to go through thicker quilt material and batting. Many machines are called “long-arm” to handle the size of the material.
But not all of these talented crafters make their quilts on machines. Amy Dunn, owner of the Mountain Quilt Works on Route 652 in Indian Orchard, PA is a custom, hand quilter. She sells material and supplies in her shop, and she takes custom orders. While Amy enjoys her work, she says there’s no easy way to “hand-do” a quilt. “It takes time and patience, and there’s no way you can make much money on it. It’s a labor of love.” Amy has just spent about three months and 200 hours crafting a beautiful quilt for an older woman who has made quilts for all her children and most of her grandchildren. But arthritis robbed the woman of her ability, so she enlisted Amy to make three remaining quilts.
Amy started quilting when she was a teenager. When The Mountain Quilt Works opened in the mid ‘80s, it was a natural fit for her to work there. She eventually bought the store in 1992.
Six years ago, Jackie Murphy of Honesdale, PA decided she’d open a quilting store. Again, she was a crafter, scrapbooker, and she knitted and crocheted. She belongs to the Wayne Highlands Quilt Guild, and they meet at her store, “A Stitch in Time,” on 7th Street. “We enjoy our ‘sew-and-tell’ time. We share ideas and see what we’ve made since our last meeting.”
Jackie and other quilters say they’ve noticed a trend in recent years from quilts used as bedspreads and comforters to smaller art quilts.