It is said that true classics never go out of style, and the art of quilting seems to be no exception.
This age-old craft is becoming popular again among women (and men) of all ages and experience levels. And today’s quilting circles are far from the stereotypical image of grandmas stitching and gossiping. If you need proof, just visit your local quilting group – you almost definitely have at least one nearby.
“I think that quilting has stepped out of the traditional box as a utilitarian bed covering, and is now being recognized as a textile art form with museum-quality status,” says Vesta VanTrease, president of the Green Country Quilters Guild Inc.
The group boasts more than 200 members in the Tulsa area, and even has separate monthly meetings for day-quilters and night-owls.
Mary Ann Tate, past president of the Mid-Del Stitchin’ Sisters Quilt Guild, a Midwest City circle with approximately 100 members, attributes some of the renewed popularity to the changing times.
“New technology has made quilting easier,” she says. “With the internet, there is more opportunity for stay-at-home moms to have jobs at home connected to quilting.”
“For some people, quilting is a family tradition handed down from grandmothers,” says VanTrease. “For many people, it is something that they invest their time in as their family grows up or as they retire from the world of work. It is something that they always wanted to try, so they find the local quilt shops and take classes. For many, it is a transition from making clothing to a new creative form of working with their hands. There are myriad reasons for people being interested in this new age of quilting.”
Whatever the reason for the recent quilting renaissance, one thing is certain: It’s not just your grandmother’s craft anymore.
The quilting circles of today go far beyond socializing while sewing. Many, including both the Green Country Quilters and the Mid-Del Stitchin’ Sisters, have numerous charity projects on hand at any given time. It’s not uncommon for individual guilds to donate thousands of quilts to programs ranging from Habitat for Humanity and family organizations at Tinker Air Force Base, to hospitals and special education classes. In addition, most circles have their own quilt shows, host guest speakers, offer educational programs and more; the hands of today’s quilters are far from idle.
While all kinds of people – young, old, men, women, novices, experts – seem to be joining quilting circles in droves, they each have one thing in common: a deeply personal love of the craft.
“Quilting is never boring,” Tate says. “It always is soothing to the soul. It soothes me while making the quilt and it soothes receivers when they wrap up in it. The quilt provides warmth and love, and can bring about a tender smile or a downright belly laugh. It survives through time and generations. You don’t know where it will end up.”