Pa. quilters gather, share secrets

February 15, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The old, homey art of quilting has entered the 21st century, using computers, printers and new products and techniques to create ever more sophisticated and artistic quilts.

Labels for quilts can be computer-generated, patterns can be printed on special computer paper and a new product sets computer ink on fabric. But some methods and products that save enormous amounts of time, energy and frustration are best learned from another quilter.

Members and guests of the Chambersburg Quilt Guild learned about techniques and products old and new at their regular monthly meeting Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Chambersburg.


Guild member Sue Frederick of Greencastle, Pa., showed quilters the various cutters, mats, trimmers and plastic grids that make cutting out a quilt far simpler than using scissors and a ruler. A double-wheeled cutter can be used to cut straight strips and another to cut chenille.

"I wouldn't be quilting without rotary cutters and mats," Frederick said.

Dorothy Moreland of Chambersburg, a quilter since 1986, shared shortcuts and cost-savers that she employs in her quilting, such as using a plastic, $5 Matchbox car storage container for her thread, rather than a similar $15 box from a quilting shop.

Moreland also demonstrated how to make 1/8-inch strips for appliqud flower stems. Starting with a half-inch strip of fabric, she painted it with starch, pulled it through a bias tape maker and under a hot iron, creating a quarter-inch strip. She moved only the fabric, not the iron. With scissors, she then trimmed one side along the fold, making two 1/8-inch pieces with raw edges. The raw edges are turned under with the needle as they are hand-sewn to a quilt patch.

Moreland recently made 1,300 fabric grapes to appliqu onto a quilt, so she has perfected the technique. Rather than drawing a circle on fabric and cutting around it, she rotary-cuts 3/4-inch squares, cuts off the corners, makes a running stitch around it and inserts a mylar washer. She pulls up on the thread, paints the "grape" with spray starch and sets a hot iron on it until the starch dries.

"I can get 25 under the iron," she said. She then loosens the thread, removes the washer and re-tightens the thread.

Working mostly in hand-piecing, hand quilting and hand needle-turned appliqu, Moreland has taught many classes on quilting. Her quilts have won Viewer's Choice awards at the last six guild quilt shows in Chambersburg.

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