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They know the meaning of the word "quilt"

April 15, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION

A decades-old tradition that has had practical uses and served as a form of art was celebrated at the Hagerstown Community College Athletic, Recreation and Community Center on Saturday.

Quilt-making spans as far back as the early 1900s, when up to eight women at a time would gather in a room to make a quilt.

Feed sacks were made out of different colored material, which were used to make quilts after they were emptied, said Shirley Mann, who helped organize the first Mason-Dixon Quilt Show at the college this weekend.

The craft has endured throughout the years, with quilters passing down their knowledge to the next generation.

People who make quilts say it's a hobby that gets in your blood. While some of the designs are standard - like the Lone Star, Log Cabin and the Double Wedding Ring - the maker picks out the colors.

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"It's got to be in you to know how to do quilting," said Helen Lerch of Hagerstown, who estimates she has made more than 100 quilts.

"It's like art. It's got to be in you to do artwork."

"Quilters are strange people," said Joyce Randolph of Fayetteville, Pa., who had some of her works on display in the show. "They buy yards of material, cut it up and then sew it back together again."

The show, which continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is being sponsored by two local quilting guilds who have had shows every two years, Mann said.

The Friendship Quilters Guild of Hagerstown and the Buchanan Trail Quilt Makers of Waynesboro, Pa., along with two other quilt guilds, decided to combine their shows to have a bigger event, Mann said.

More than 250 quilts, wall quilts, quilted clothing and other items are on display inside the gym. The bed quilts are displayed on large wooden racks that were built especially for the show.

There was no competition, although visitors could vote for their favorite.

Proceeds from the $4 admission charge will help fund a scholarship program for women on the college's basketball and volleyball teams, Mann said.

Interest in quilting has surged within the last five to seven years, and there are quilt shows in the region from Lancaster, Pa., to Williamsburg, Va., Mann said.

Some of the techniques have changed, as witnessed by the use of sewing machines instead of making them by hand, Mann said.

"We still have our purists who say it's only a quilt if you hand-piece it and hand-quilt it," Mann said.

Lerch is one of them.

She leaned forward to one of the quilts on display Saturday afternoon and pointed out sections that were sewn with a machine. Hand-sewn quilts have more character because some of the stitches are longer than others, Lerch said.

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