"Scraps of Love," "Big Surprise" and "Hollywood Boulevard Shadowed Star." You might think you are reading the titles of a few interesting books. But you are not. These are just a few of the titles given to quilts made by some of the very talented and dedicated members of the Fort Henry Piecemakers quilting guild.
The guild, once a fledgling group with a mere handful of members, has blossomed to 90 members this year. In October 1985, Janet Andrews, Elaine Fugate, Mary Jane Williams and Terry Brasch packed their sewing equipment and traveled to the Cedar Lakes Conference Center at Ripley. There they joined a small but enthusiastic group of quilters gathered for a quilting seminar.
At that time, to register for the seminar, membership in the National Quilting Association was a requirement so the four local women joined the association and made the seminar their annual fall get-away.
After gathering information from seminar participants in October 1986, the quilters returned home and approached quilt shop owners Mary Zesiger and Carol Weaver about starting a chapter of the National Quilting Association in their shop. They agreed and the Fort Henry Piecemakers was launched, becoming Chapter 358 of the National Quilting Association on Feb. 23, 1987.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Piecemakers, the guild is planning a celebration at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 141 Kruger St., Wheeling.
Current Piecemakers President Janet Andrews said quilting, while never out of style, has enjoyed a resurgence thanks to modern media including quilting shows on television, stories in the newspapers, Internet resources and modern technology including sewing machines made just for quilting.
"The quilting shows on TV are really popular," Andrews said. "Quilting really picked up in 1976 with the bicentennial. Now there are quilting magazines and it's everywhere."
The National Quilting Association promotes the art of quilt making, fosters creativity and innovation, and sets standards of excellence through a certified teachers' program, a judges' program, a national quilting day in March, an annual national show and the Quilting Quarterly magazine. The association's headquarters is located in Columbus and members can be found throughout the world.
Members of the Piecemakers have continued to gather on the second Thursday of each month and now meet at St. Mark Lutheran Church. Meetings consist of a social hour, a short business meeting, a demonstration of a quilting technique and the much anticipated "show and tell" showcasing finished quilts made by members.
While the guild is for adult quilters, including men, members are passing their techniques on to their children and grandchildren in an effort to maintain the tradition.
These members have served as president of the guild: Andrews, Janet Coffield, Brenda Moore, Susan Buckelew, Lois Walker, Fugate, Peggy Thomas, Carolyn Ziegler, Barbara Palkovich, Fran Braden, Shelley Guthoerl and Karen Walker. Serving in this anniversary year are Andrews, president; Walker, vice president and program chair; Penny Klug, secretary; and Krujetta Clark, treasurer.
Jill Lucidi, current editor of "Threadlines," the guild's monthly newsletter, provides not only guild news but also information about quilt shows, shops, classes and other topics.
These busy quilters also find time to make and donate quilts to various charitable organizations. The "Comfy Quilters" meet every Monday to stitch under the direction of Vicki Crawford of Wheeling. Every other year, members of the Fort Henry Piecemakers raffle off a beautiful quilt with proceeds going toward mammogram screenings for women in need in West Virginia.
In addition, they make an annual Quilt of Hope that is raffled off with proceeds going to assist uninsured women in West Virginina. They also provide gifts and clothing for holiday charity programs for Youth Services System, infant and pediatric programs.