MISSOULA — Some 180 members strong, women of the Missoula Quilters’ Guild are as tight knit as the fabric they quilt together.
“There are so many levels of ability, so many different skills that you can learn in quilting, and each person brings something different,” said the group’s public relations director Shannon Fradette.
“Everybody has a different aesthetic, and so we have a lot of traditional quilters, we have a lot of modern quilters, we've got people that hand quilt, people that paper piece, so there's just something you can always continue learning, and the women in the guild are so generous of time and spirit.”
Since 1986, the Missoula Quilters’ Guild has been a place for quilters to share ideas and learn about the art of quilting, but to the members, it’s more than a sewing circle, it’s a social circle.
“I joined because I wanted to meet people and make friends,” said the group’s treasurer Susan Velin.
“I needed to make some girlfriends,” echoed Vida Anderson, president of the guild.
As the group meets throughout the year, they’re also planning for the quilt show, which they’ll tell you is almost as important as the binding of a quilt itself.
Members spend days, weeks, and months crafting quilts for the highly anticipated event.
“You not only pick a pattern, sometimes you actually design the pattern yourself, you go out and you curate the fabrics, and you're selecting the fabrics based on the person that you're making the quilt for,” said Anderson. “It takes a while to put them together; some quilts can take as long as weeks, months, or a year to put together depending on how quickly you can quilt.”
Of course, COVID put an end to events faster than a brand new longarm stitching away.
“It was a very hard decision for the board to cancel the show, but it was the right decision to make,” said Velin. “We were very disappointed and our membership was very disappointed because we only host our quilt show every other year, and people spend those two years making quilts to put in the show. It's also our biggest moneymaker.”
That money goes towards making quilts for veterans, cancer patients and foster kids.
No quilt show meant no funds for their outreach, so the group is changing direction -- and you can find them at Caras Park for the MADE Fair next month.
“We were given a slot for a nonprofit booth, and we will be there at this coming MADE Fair at Caras Park, and we're going to raffle off the quilts, we're going to sell tickets for that and we're also going to have some sewing machines set up, and we're going to make a community quilt so anybody that wants to come by can learn how to make a very simple block for the quilt, and their name will be entered into a raffle to win the quilt that we will make,” Anderson told MTN News.
Fabric for the community quilt has been donated by local quilt shops like the Confident Stitch, Vicki’s Quilts Down Under, and Goin’ Quilting.
While some may see the community quilt as a seamless finish to a long ordeal, for the quilter’s guild, it’s just a running stitch.
“I think having quilts there and having quilters share their experience with new people, we might get more people interested in joining the quilt guild and adding to that variety and flavor,” said Fradette.
You can purchase tickets for the quilt raffle here.