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Quilters share knowledge, handiwork, love of the craft

| February 22, 2018 7:24 PM

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“Purple Mountains Majesty,” a quilt being raffled by the Tender Lovin’ Quilters of Troy.

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One of the quilted baskets for carrying a beer growler made by Sharon Gehrke. The foam batting helps to insulate. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

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Patty Sargent assists Linda Wrey with trimming material for a Rockport basket during the afternoon hand-on portion of Tender Lovin’ Quilters of Troy’s Quilting 101 event, Feb. 17. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

By BENJAMIN KIBBEY

The Western News

Despite the cold and fresh snow falling, 41 participants showed up the morning of Feb. 17 for the Tender Lovin’ Quilters of Troy quilting guild’s annual Quilting 101 event at the Troy United Methodist Fellowship Hall.

Guild president Tammy Anderson said that they usually see 50 to 60 participants. Though some participants from Trout Creek didn’t make it this year due to weather, quilters from all over the area still made the early morning trek.

The morning involved demonstrations of applique, paper piecing and binding basics. Participants also got tips on making a quilted, insulated wine bag — there’s a version for beer growlers as well — table toppers and nonslip pads for sewing machine pedals.

The morning sessions were all free, but ten women stuck around for the afternoon class, which had a $10 fee to cover materials. Those participants each made a quilted Rockport basket with help from instructors Patty Sargent and Sharon Gehrke.

Joyce Breesawitz said it was her first time coming to Quilting 101, and she was new to the guild as well.

“It’s great. All the demonstrations, the tips, and all the ladies have been really friendly,” she said. “It is a very welcoming group.”

A place to share

Kristin Newton has been around since the Troy guild started. The number of members has been fairly consistent over the past 26 years, and so have the reasons for being part of the guild.

“There’s just such a camaraderie about being with people who are like-minded,” she said. “We all share a love for quilting and a love for sewing.”

Even as one of the guild’s original members, Newton said she still learns something or gets a new idea every time she comes to a meeting.

And ideas for quilting can involve a lot more than just bedspreads.

Gherke showed off one of the wine carriers she gave a demonstration on in the morning. The inspiration for her first wine bag was actually a design for a flower basket, she said.

She also has a version made to fit a beer growler, and the foam batting makes the bags insulated as well.

Giving it away

But ideas aren’t the only thing the Tender Lovin’ Quilters share.

Along with the Libby quilters guild and a local church group, the Troy quilting guild makes quilts for free for Families in Partnership Early Head Start in Libby, Gherke said.

On enrollment, families receive a quilt for each child.

As a home visitor, Gherke said she gets to hand the quilts to the parents and children, and see how they use them.

“They love to cuddle. They love to roll up in it. For them, those quilts can become anything they want,” she said. “They become tents, they become Superman capes — a blanket on the floor nobody can get on ‘This is my space, leave me alone.’”

The quilters use soft, fuzzy, warm fabrics like flannel, which also provide tactile stimulation for infants, Gherke said. She has even come for a visit and found a mother and both her children cuddled up together under one of the guild’s quilts.

“That’s really nice, that they’re using it the way we want them to be used: to be loved and used and treasured,” she said.

Sargent said she loves to give away the items she quilts, whether it’s to family, friends or anonymously to people she may never meet.

Materials alone for a quilt can run almost $200, but for Sargent and other quilters, it’s an expense they don’t seem to mind.

The guild has a cache of quilts they make and keep just to give to people who have lost a home in a fire, Anderson said. They also make quilts for community groups to raffle or auction off to raise money.

They have made quilts for the Cabinet Peaks Medical Center Foundation and a quilt displaying cartoon appliqued dogs for Kootenai Pets For Life, she said.

The quilts require about a year’s notice in advance, and are customized to the group that requests them, Anderson said.

They also raffle off a quilt every two years to raise money for the guild — the only fundraiser the guild has, Anderson said. The guild will be selling raffle tickets for the current quilt up to when they raffle it off on July 4th at the quilt show they have every other year.

The quilt will be displayed at several locations around Troy and Libby, including Rosauers and Steins, as well as for about a month at the Quilt Cottage in Libby, Anderson said. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase when the quilt is on display.

The Tender Lovin’ Quilters of Troy quilting guild meets the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Troy United Methodist Fellowship Hall.