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Quiltfest Savannah brings the outdoors alive with colorful quilts

Quiltfest Savannah at the International Trade Center-slide0

Why is there an article about a quilt making show in outdoor recreation? Did someone make a mistake? No, read on and you will discover that quilt making is not just for grannies these days and that if you want to capture moments on something other than film, digital quilting might just be the thing for you!

viewing quilts
BJ English

When a friend invited us to attend the Mancuso quilt show in Savannah last weekend, I thought to myself, ‘why on earth would I want to go see a bunch of patchwork quilts made by little old ladies from scraps of material they had collected over the years.

To be honest I had seen some neat ideas on how to turn your old horse show ribbons into wall quilts by stitching the ribbons all together with a backing. Recently I had seen similar things done with old racing bibs from road races and some runners had even taken old event shirts and quilted them together for a functional quilt they could use at sporting events as a throw or cover-up. It was intriguing, but quilting was just not my thing.

Just as I had decided to pass on the event, the same friend posted a photo of the 3-D quilt with ovals that seemed to stack on top of each other even though they were lying flat. She also posted one of a gorgeously stitched flower with beading that made it seem highlighted by the sun and a traditional squared quilt her mother had done commemorating her son’s life in the military complete with photos that had been transferred to cloth, so with my trusty reporter’s card in hand I headed out to the waterfront to view the two Spanish ships docked in port and took the water ferry over to Hutchinson Island at the International Trade and Convention Center to look at quilts… thousands of quilts!!!

Thankfully they waived the $15 entry fee, but to be honest, there was so much to look at and it was so artfully presented that the money would have been worth it.

I had recently visited here for the garden show and there were more vendors and participants here than for that. There was barely any room left empty with hundreds of vendors selling everything from quilted clothing to very expensive embroidery thread that looked for all the world like an ancient Egyptian marketplace with colorful bolts of material, beads, shiny threads and quilting machines that could scroll intricate designs and patterns on cloth.

While all of this was interesting, the quilts themselves were breathtaking. There were some that were so gorgeous that you just stood there staring as the people around you commented, “Wow, how did they do that?” While others pointed to the different techniques and called in a 'white glove': a person wearing white gloves who was the only one allowed to touch the quilt and show viewers how it was stitched or backed.

We are not talking about your grandma’s quilts here with scraps of checkerboard shirts and old blue jeans, though there were some like this. We are talking about true works of art with mixed media and many which looked more like photographs of trees, sporting events, vacation travel, portraits, animals and more.

While some appeared to be photographs transferred to cloth, others were bits of differently dyed cloth stitched together to form patterns and shapes that made the quilts come to life with mixed media including beads, fake fur and individually stitched leaves on a tree so that actually took on a realistic leaf look.

There were some with portraits of children stitched on the quilts wearing real clothes sewn on top, including overalls and a baseball cap and there were many categories including a red and white only with some psychedelic patterns that made you feel a bit woozy like the walls were moving.

A series of quilts by Linda Cantrell with cartoon themes was a big hit with all the ladies and yes, most of the participants were women in their mid fifties and up, but there were a few guys and a very few younger people there and the event was very wheel chair and stroller friendly.

There was something for everyone to see, even a series of old and vintage cars and semi-trucks and some that were heart warming including those that depicted women and children who had risen out of poverty in third world countries by sewing and stitching together quilts to earn a living where few job or educational opportunities were available.

Next time you have a quilt fest show come your way, do yourself a favor and check it out and if you are interested in learning how to quilt, you can visit: in Savannah or check around at your local sewing shops.

If you have been looking for a unique way of saving all your sports memorabilia (shirts, hats, ribbons, lanyards, bibs, flyers, etc into collectible artwork, the new quilting ideas just might be something you could do yourself with the help of modern technology and it would make a really neat gift for someone you love and a great way to bring the outdoors inside for a shut-in or just to brighten up a room or office.

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