• July 31, 2014

Quilting craze

Popularity surges across area

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Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 4:40 pm, Mon Oct 7, 2013.

Age is not a factor anymore when it comes to quilting. The quilting craze continues to grow to the point that Killeen, Copperas Cove and Salado can now support four quilt stores.

“Quilting is so popular because it gives you the ability to take heirlooms and turn them into memories,” said Laura Winckel, owner of Quality Quilts by Laura in Killeen. “Who wants to look at their grandma’s old shirts or capris pants? You can cut them into pieces and create a quilt to remember her.”

Winckel began a Quilts of Valor chapter in Killeen in September. The group makes quilts for military veterans and service members who are wounded or have experienced sexual assault.

“Our daytime quilting circle was very well attended and people asked if we could add an evening quilting circle,” Winckel said. “So we are building momentum. The popularity of quilting has really taken off.”

Nancy Judd, special events chairman for the Crossroads to Texas Quilt Guild, said quilting remains popular because the basics never really change. And computerized machines now make it easier for beginners to quilt.

“But we still have ladies that hand-piece and hand-quilt and would never dream of using a machine,” said Judd, who has been quilting for nearly 30 years.

The guild, which has about 70 members, meets the second Monday of every month and produces a quilt show every other year. The show is partially funded by a grant from the city of Killeen Arts Commission.

“We have estimated 1,000 to 1,500 attendees that come through the show,” Judd said. “People going through the vendor booths are hip to hip trying to see everything.”

About five years ago, the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department started a quilting group for senior citizens. The group meets weekly at the Recreation Center. There is no cost for the ongoing lessons, and every session is different.

“We study color combinations, do problem-solving, advanced quilt-making, and everyone completes a block of the month that we will piece together to donate a quilt to charity,” said Joyce Mayer, who oversees the program and started quilting in the 1980s.

Quilting is not just for senior citizens these days. The craft has seen a surge in 20- to 40-year-olds in quilting groups like the Patriotic Piecemakers started in 2007 at Fort Hood. The group’s members change each year as military spouses move to other duty stations and new ones arrive. But the popularity of quilting has kept the group alive.

Stacy Clady, who leads the Piecemakers, said quilting is a connection to past families and friends in a fast-moving world.

“Quilting remains popular because there are so many different styles and techniques, from traditional to modern, hand-sewn to machine-sewn and appliques.”

Monica Bates of Copperas Cove began quilting in 2007 and has since completed 10 quilts. Her mother didn’t quilt but her father’s grandmother did. She now has her great-grandmother’s sewing machine from the 1940s.

“I hadn’t sewed a day in my life, and I went out and bought my first machine,” she said. “My son was always at soccer, and my husband was gone. Quilting kept me busy on those late nights.”

Bates spends 30 to 40 hours making each quilt. “That’s the time it takes in putting it all together and sewing the love in it.”

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