Above: From left, East Cobb Quilters’ Guild members Gail Oliver, Wendy Blanton and Devon Pfeif, with the Lion King quilts they presented at the January meeting of the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild. Oliver’s and Pfeif’s quilts were accepted into the 2016 Cherrywood Challenge. Blanton is also a member of the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild. Photos by Asep Mawardi.
Debbie Scarimbolo has always been enamored with fabric. As a child, she spent her summers making clothes for the next school year. As a home economics teacher, she taught her students to make quilts for infants in need as a class project.
Today, she is president of the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild, a group at capacity with 65 members and a waiting list. It’s one of dozens of guilds across metro Atlanta that draw quilters together for fellowship, skill sharing, community service and the allure of the ever-evolving craft.
It’s show time for the Bulloch Hall guild, which is based in Roswell at the childhood home of Mittie Bulloch, the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt. From March 6-15, the guild will host Bulloch Hall’s 38th Annual Quilt Show, a commissioned show entitled “Inspired by Endangered Species.”
More than 180 quilts depicting animals and plants from the collection of Virginia-based quilter Donna DeSoto will fill the historic house museum. Also on display will be a raffle quilt for charity that was created by the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild.
Bulloch Hall’s quilt shows alternate each year between traveling shows, such as the current one, and shows featuring its guild members’ work, which are non-juried and open to other quilters. Scarimbolo said the event is “a win-win for everybody.”
“It’s an opportunity to educate the public about quilting. It brings people to Bulloch Hall and lets them have a little taste of history,” she said. “And, on the years that we put our quilts in, it gives our members an opportunity to show their work in a very friendly environment.”
Holly Anderson, who co-chairs this year’s show with Barbara Debolt, is a quilting expert. She is a retired American Quilt Society certified appraiser and was vice chair of the Georgia Quilt project, which documented more than 8,000 quilts in Georgia in the 1990s. She lectures on quilts and judges quilt shows around the state and has traveled around the world with friends to quilting exhibitions.
“Quilting has brought so many wonderful people into my life,” Anderson said. “It’s just been a pretty sleek ride.”
Competing for the joy of it
Traditional quilting involves sandwiching a soft material called “batting” between two layers of fabric, with the top often made of a pattern of “blocks.” All three layers are then stitched together.
Quilting is usually done by machine these days, and new trends are taking quilting to advanced levels. Historically, quilting was primarily done to make bed covers. Today, there’s lots of quilted art, usually a smaller piece using all forms of fiber and all types of embellishments.
Longtime quilter Wendy Blanton was on the Bulloch Hall guild’s waiting list for about five years before she was able to join 10 years ago. In February, she was asked to be “Mystery Spotlight” speaker for the group’s monthly meeting. She presented five friends from another guild she belongs to, the East Cobb Quilters’ Guild, which usually has more than 200 members.
All of them, including Blanton, have had work accepted into the Cherrywood Challenge, an annual competition sponsored by Minnesota-based Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabrics. Participants’ mission is to create a 20-inch-square quilt with a very limited color palette with a new theme each year. Themes to date were the Broadway musical “Wicked,” Disney’s “The Lion King,” painter Van Gogh, the musician Prince and artist Bob Ross. The 2020 theme is Princess Diana.
Among the panel presenters, Blanton’s and Ben Hollingsworth’s Van Gogh quilts traveled to Australia and both of them currently have Bob Ross quilts on tour. Van Gogh quilts made by Gail Oliver, Nancy Hutchison and Devon Pfeif went to France. Hollingsworth and Pfeif, who was first-place winner in the Prince challenge, have Prince quilts touring now.
Hollingsworth also teaches a portrait quilt class at the Alpharetta Arts Center, and the Bob Ross and Prince quilts are examples of that type of work. “I do a lot of challenges because I like having my imagination stimulated and I like coming up with creative solutions to things,” he said.
Competing has also been exhilarating for Blanton. “My friends tell me how my art has grown since I started doing the challenges,” she said. “With every new challenge I try to do something I’ve never done before.”
‘Hugs in fabric form’
Quilt guilds also provide a way to serve. The Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild makes quilts and children’s pillowcases for the International Women’s House, a domestic violence shelter in Decatur.
The Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Guild makes quilts and pillowcases for children at the Carrie Steele-Pitts Home and for patients with sickle cell disease at Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital, both in Atlanta. “Quilts are hugs in fabric form,” said Elisa Woods, president of the south DeKalb County guild.
The guild’s 62 members are observing their 20th anniversary at the William C. Brown-Wesley Chapel Library. “I think what really binds us together,” Woods said, “is that there’s nothing better than to work with fabric.”
Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild’s 38th Annual Quilt Show
The quilt show will be held March 6-15 at Bulloch Hall, 180 Bulloch Avenue, Roswell 30077. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m.
Admission to the quilt show is included with regular museum admission, $8 adults, $7 seniors, $6 children.
Info: bullochhallquiltguild.org or 770-992-1731.
Quilting classes can be found at fabric stores, arts centers, senior centers and at some of the dozens of local quilt guilds in the metro area. Find quilt guilds online at sites including quiltguilds.com, americanquilter.com and generations-quilt-patterns.com. Check before you visit to make sure meeting details are accurate.
Here’s a sampling of some local guilds.
Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild—Meets monthly on first Thursdays, September through June, at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 10250 Haynes Bridge Road, Alpharetta 30022. Social time: 9:30 a.m. Meeting: 10 a.m. Info: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Cobb Quilters’ Guild—Check their website for day and evening meetings held monthly except in November. Info: ecqg.com.
Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Guild—Meets monthly on third Saturdays, except for July and December, at 10:30 a.m. at the William C. Brown-Wesley Chapel Library, 2861 Wesley Chapel Road, Decatur 30034. Info: brownsugarstitchersquiltguild.com.
Original Sewing & Quilt Expo
See the latest in techniques and products and learn new skills this month at a three-day sewing, quilting and machine embroidery consumer show. Attendees can shop with more than 80 retailers for machines, tools, fabric and supplies.
Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, which produces shows around the country, will also feature displays of quilts, stage presentations and trunk shows.
The expo will be held March 12-14 at the Infinite Energy Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth 30097. Daily general admission is $8 if you register online or $15 at the door. Classes are $23 per session. Some of the classes are suitable for children.
Value packages offer the biggest savings if you preregister by March 8, and group discounts are available. The expo is a branch of Hoffman Media, an Alabama-based publishing company. For more info, visit sewingexpo.com or call 800-699-6309.