Posts By: Dixie
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Saturday, November 17, 2018 is going to be a big day in Athens-Limestone County. We are turning 200, we are throwing a city-wide party, and our three quilt guilds have come together to celebrate the glorious artisan craft of quilt making! Quilting in Alabama is legendary, has been the subject of award-winning documentaries and books, and is one of the most effective ways there is to preserve history while creating stunning pieces of domestic practical art. I spoke with Teddy Wolcott, who is with the Athens Dixie Stitchers, and learned of her own long and loving history with quilting. “I started with making doll clothes,” she said. That moved on to dress making and then quilting. “There is something about being able to touch and smooth fabric,” she said. Teddy went on to tell me how, especially in less affluent times, quilters collected little bits of fabric to make what was known as “family treasure quilts.” This essentially showed the history of the now worn out clothes of the family while repurposing them into something that looked pretty and gave comfort. There is a saying amongst long-time quilters, which is, “He who dies with the most fabric wins.”
The three Athens guilds that have come together for the bicentennial celebration are the Athens Dixie Stitchers, the Athens Friendship Quilters, and the North Alabama Modern Quilt Guild. A little bit of history regarding each guild follows below:
• Athens Friendship Quilters meets during the day, is headed up by Bettinna Carter, and uses traditional quilting patterns such as a wedding ring, log cabin, or just plain scrappy.
• Athens Dixie Stitchers also uses traditional patterns, and they meet at night. Teddy Wolcott and Sharon Griffis serve as the co-presidents. The Dixie Stitchers are members of the Chamber of Commerce
• North Alabama Modern Quilt Guild is a quilt guild that uses modern patterns, and their president is Debbie Yff, (pronounced “ ?fe” as in “life”)
All three of the guilds meet once a month, and are busy on their own in between times working on a number of projects. They make pillows for Camp Hope, a local summer camp that helps children who have suffered bereavement. They also make quilts for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and for babies whose parents don’t have enough money for a blanket. You can learn more about each on their Facebook pages. You can also learn more by going to their websites at
The guilds kick off the weekend Friday night the 16th by displaying raffle quilts at the Merry Market in the Center for Lifelong Learning. They will be on display from 4-8 a.m., and you can buy raffle tickets for the chance to own one of these lovingly made quilts. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the raffle go to the building project at the Alabama Veterans Museum. On Saturday, the guilds are going to be displaying their table runners and wall art inside the Rogers Center and the quilts will be draped over the pews inside the sanctuary. Some of the quilts will be for sale, and there will be “white-gloved docents” on duty to show you the quilts without you having to touch them. In the Rogers Center Fellowship Hall, there will be a bake sale and something called a “quilt bed turning.” A “bed turning” is a special unfolding of a quilt that is part of a stack with the history of the quilt explained. For example, in Teddy’s family, quilting was done by everyone, including both of her grandmothers. One grandmother was very wealthy, and the fabric that was collected and used to make quilts was of the finest quality, and reflected their family’s story. Teddy’s other grandmother was quite poor, and the fabric for her quilts often came in very small pieces, which were then made into intricate patterns that became the basis for the “treasured family quilts.”
The quilters have a desire beyond this grand quilt celebration, and that is to re-acquaint all of us with what has become nearly a lost art. There is something about the quiet contentment of needlework and quilting, the anticipation of the finished project, and the camaraderie that comes with creating something together that is just unmatched. Some of the plans of the guilds for strengthening the community include teaching local Girl Scout troops how to quilt, and participating in the Mother’s Day Tea to be held at Isom’s Orchard.
Admission for the event is FREE and all areas are open Friday 4-7:30 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. So come out and enjoy some history, food, a birthday party that will never happen again in our lifetime, and discover the beauty of quilting. You’ll be so glad you did.
For More Information About Us: Athens Dixie Stitchers – 256-729-1049 or our website: AthensDixieStitchers.Com
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
I will be filling in for Ann and conducting the next meeting of the Athens Dixie Stitchers. We have a guest program, Amy Crunk, who will be displaying a trunk show and discussing her method of paper piecing. If there is an interest in learning her method, we may discuss a workshop at a future meeting. Since we want to give her enough time and not run extremely late our business part of the meeting will be short. We have extended an invitation to the members of the other Athens guilds to visit our program.
What are our plans for next year? We are looking for suggestions and would like you to bring them to the June meeting. So what would you like to do and see us do to promote quilting?
This year is the 200th anniversary of Athens. The option I need everyone to consider and be prepared to discuss at the June meeting is a one day “Quilt Celebration” that would hopefully be a joint endeavor by all of the Athens guilds. The church where we meet may be an option for the venue and we would try to include quilts with stories from families in the Athens area. I would like everyone to think about this, decide if you would like to participate, and be prepared to discuss and vote whether we take this to the other two guilds or drop the interest.
We really need a good attendance for our paid program in May and for a vote on the show option in June. Join us May 3rd and June 7th. We will be collecting membership dues at the June meeting.
Another great meeting in September. We had a great program making Christmas Ornaments. More and more ladies are making the block of the month. Check out some of these great blocks.
One of the best parts of every guild meeting is “Show & Tell”. If you don’t know what that is think back to when you were in grade school. This is the time to show off your latest project – either finished or in the process. What do you have at home that you would like to share. Be a part of the fun bring some “Show & Tell” to our next meeting….
A beautiful celebration of family. Accented with family history, names and favorite flowers.
Our August meeting will be on the 3rd of August at FUMC. We look forward to seeing everyone there. The program should be great fun. We will making finger pin cushions with lots of help from one of our members – Anita Vibbert. The Guild will supply the elastic, bottle tops, and fiberfill for the finger pin cushion project. Anita recommends that everyone bring needle, thread, scissors and a circle of fabric that measures approximately 3 3/4″. Hot glue guns are also needed. Hope to see everyone then….
Great demonstration on making a special quilt square.
Show and tell just like when we were in school. One of the best parts of every guild meeting. Take a few minutes and check out the wonderful quilting.
Use clean, sharp rotary cutting blades. Change to a new blade at the slightest hint of dullness on your current blade. Replace a nicked blade immediately. I can’t tell you how many times at a bee retreat we’ve remarked how much difference a new blade makes AND how cheap and stupid we were not to change blades sooner. (Sorry to my Loose Threads Bee for giving away our secrets!) Use your Joann’s or Hancock’s coupons to buy rotary blade in multi-packs to reduce the cost.
Use the right size blade for the job. Your 45mm blade is a good, all-purpose rotary blade. If you are cutting many layers of fabric move to the 60mm rotary cutter. If you are cutting around curved templates, move to the 28mm or 18mm blade and cut fewer layers at a time.
Attach your rotary blade properly. Hold your cutter with just two fingers and push it along your mat without fabric. The wheel should roll easily with little effort and no wobble. If you have to exert more force for the blade to turn, it’s too tight. Loosen the screw that holds the blade a tiny bit.
Make sure you’ve installed just one blade. Once I couldn’t figure out why my cuts were so ragged. After looking at my blade closely, I realized I’d installed TWO blades instead of one. The lubrication on the blades in the packaging can make it hard to slide the blades apart, and that’s exactly what happened. Now I double check!
Cut away from your body in a standing position. You lose some perspective and control when sitting to cut.
Apply an even pressure when cutting Not too hard, not too light. Again, this is a control issue.
Place your blade right next to the ruler. Some like the blade
completely perpendicular to the ruler, I prefer at a slight angle into the ruler as Sally Collins, an award winning miniature quilter, recommends. Just make sure if you angle your blade, you aren’t cutting underneath the ruler.
Use the same brand of rulers for cutting. This is not always possible if you are switching to templates, but make the effort to use the same brand. The measurements on different brands can be slightly off creating problems during piecing. And do cut with the printed lines of the ruler next to the fabric. Cutting with your ruler upside down distorts the lines. Think of it like looking through a glass of water.
Fabric grips help to hold the ruler in place. These can be made of vinyl like “Clear Grip” or even sand paper dots.
Rotary ruler sight lines
Good rulers have breaks in the measuring lines
called “sight” lines.
Use rulers with “sight” lines These spaces within the lines, themselves, help you to line up your fabric consistently.
Cut on a rotary mat you can turn. Turn your mat, not the fabric. Every time you pick up the fabric to position it for another cut, there’s a chance for pieces to shift and cutting to be off.
Stop to move your hands. When you are cutting a long strip and you need to move the hand holding the ruler, stop with the blade in the fabric and walk your hands up the ruler into better position. Then continue cutting. Your hold on the ruler will be more stable if you are “up” on your fingertips. Placing your palm flat on the rotary ruler can cause it to shift from the pressure.
Clean up your edges often. Before you started to cut, you cleaned up the edge by making a cut at a 90 degree angle to the edge. As you cut strips, the fabric moves the tiniest of bits. After several cuts, the angle has probably shifted and is no longer a perfect 90 degrees. Double check often and clean up this edge as necessary.
Cut on your dominant side. If you are right-handed, hold the rotary cutter in your right hand and ruler in your left. Cut on the right side of the ruler. Do not cut down the left edge towards you or across the top or bottom of the ruler. For cuts like these, the blade has a tendency to stray from the edge of the ruler, resulting in inaccurate shapes. Turn your mat instead of your body.
Tips from Generations-quilt-patterns.com
Quilt ‘flimsys/tops’ shown at the July Guild Meeting by Georgia Flannigan – in Progress: Northern Neighbors (Studio 180 design) and one using the Corner Beam ruler (also from Studio 180). Looking forward to seeing these fully quilted!