, Muskogee, OK

April 15, 2007

Azalea Festival visitors warm up to quilt show

Amanda Stone

By Amanda Stone

Phoenix Correspondent

On a cold day there is nothing like bundling up in a big cozy quilt. Many must have been thinking along these lines, because more than 400 people attended the Muskogee Area Quilters Guild’s 22nd Annual Spring Quilt Show Friday and Saturday.

“We’ve been over at the Chili Festival,” said Irene Fletcher of Bixby. “We came down just to do that and look at quilts.”

Fletcher, who also quilts, and her husband Tim said they were able to spend more time at the show this year because of the cold weather.

“There is something real personal about quilting,” Tim Fletcher said. “I’m the one who told (Irene) about this. I knew she’d like it.”

The Fletchers were not the only ones enjoying themselves. With more than 100 quilts to look at, there was plenty to take in.

“This year for the Oklahoma Centennial, we had to have at least 100 quilts,” said Candace Dove, the show chairwoman. “We ended up with 101, actually, and 24 old quilts.”

One of the older works displayed dates back to the 1800s, Dove said.

There were eight categories in which participants could enter their quilts including baby quilts, wall hangings, hand-quilted bed quilts, appliquéd quilts, machine-quilted bed quilts, mixed techniques and embellished quilts. The viewers would vote for a first, second and third place for each category and an overall best in show.

“I like to do a lot of embellishing on my quilts,” said Brenda Haxton, the guild president. “I usually don’t sell though. People ask me, but I don’t like deadlines.”

Haxton had works in the baby quilts and a quilted jacket and purse in the embellished category.

While walking around the display room in St. Paul United Methodist Church, it was easy to see the creativity and time put in to quilt making. Many of the visitors were drawn to the bright colors or details of the works.

“Dear Jane,” a detailed, geometric design, was created by Pat Leeper of McAlester and Annalee Hackett and took 900 hours to complete.

“I think maybe this year is the best yet,” said Lenore Beard of Muskogee. “The quilts are so outstanding because of vibrant colors and design.”

Beard, who did not have anything displayed, said she is particularly interested in quilts because of the sentimental aspect that comes with each one.

“I like to use my own fabrics in my quilts,” Beard said. “I am making one now from one of my granddaughter’s dresses.”

For many people, the quilt show draws them in for personal reasons such as Beard’s.

“For me, it’s special because of the different fabrics used,” Dove said.

“There is a story behind most quilts. Whether they are for anniversaries, remembrance or a new baby, there is usually a reason to start a new project.”