Last night the old quilting club got back together for the first time since the pandemic. Nine older ladies gathered in Denise’s living room in rural West Virginia. They sat in a big circle, just like women did in days of yore. They had a kind of socially-distanced quilting bee.
The group welcomed a new member into the fold. Andrea, who is 14 years old. She was the youngest in a roomful of women who were all over age 70.
The first thing anyone should know about quilting is that a quilt is NOT just a blanket. The women are clear on this. Especially not a patchwork quilt. Miss Denise, who founded this group 21 years ago, describes a quilt like this:
“It’s like building a four-bedroom house with a needle.”
Miss Denise remembers her first solo quilt when she was 12 years old. She worked on it for a solid year using scrap material salvaged from her father’s old clothes. She remembers laboring on this quilt while listening to the Everly
Brothers sing “All I Have to Do Is Dream” on a record player.
“I’ve been quilting for a long time,” she says quietly.
On average, a large patchwork quilt takes about 100 hours to complete. Some quilts move quicker; others take longer. Either way, there is a lot more than just needlework involved in constructing the Great American Quilt.
Denise tells me there’s planning, drawing, gathering, cutting, arranging, sewing, fixing mistakes, binding, and constantly repouring glasses of wine.
“Yes, wine,” says Denise. “That’s an important part of our little club. I like the pink wines best. I’m Methodist, we’re allowed to drink.”
The art of quilting is believed by some to date back to 3400 B.C. And to give you an idea of just how old that is: the Sahara Desert began to form around this period.
The pharaohs used quilts. There is also evidence of quiltwork in…