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The art of quilting has gone beyond the traditional, and it shows in the best works of the past two years from the 80-plus Sea Island Quilters, which will be on exhibit this weekend at the Southern Comforts Quilt Show. Works on display will include detailed oversized quilts to miniature quilts, wall hangings and even quilt sculptures shaped like dragons and fairies.
Members from some of the Sea Island Quilters' splinter groups, including PIPS, the Loose Threads and the Bits & Pieces, will show off their work from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Southern Comforts Quilt Show in the Charles "Lind" Brown Activity Center, the former Greene Street Gym at Greene and Hamar streets in Beaufort.
Quilt lovers will have a chance to purchase some of the members' work through a silent auction, consignments, a guild boutique featuring miniature wall hangings, baby quilts, hand-dyed fabrics, fat quarters and quilting books and magazines. Nine vendors will offer antique fabrics, thread, sewing machines, long-arm quilting machines and all the necessary quilting accessories.
The PIPS, which stands for Peaceful Island Piecing Sisters, is one of the many splinter groups that meet weekly where members discuss what they are working on at home. All of these groups combine once a month to meet as the Sea Island Quilters guild. "The quilters make up a guild whose purpose is to gather to talk quilting," said Trudy Flanagan, of St. Helena Island, who joined the guild in the early 1990s.
The guild hosts various lectures and workshops at the monthly meetings. On May 21, Pat Willcox, a sewing instructor at ARTworks, sponsored by the Arts Council of Beaufort County, will give a program on fabric sculptures she creates. In June the group will learn about determining the age of older quilts from Phyllis Hatcher of Maryland, a certified quilt appraiser.
"Some of them lecture on various phases of quilting, others have a workshop on how to make a quilt or learning a new technique," said Flanagan, a sewing instructor and seamstress who moved to Beaufort in 1989.
"Everybody was talking golf, golf, golf, golf," said Flanagan about her move south. "I tried to find somebody I had something in common with and when I saw the meeting of the quilters in the (Beaufort) Gazette, I went."
A quilter since 1991, Flanagan prefers to make miniature wall-hanging quilts. "Many of the quilters have been teachers and also a lot of the teachers have taught math," said Flanagan, 80, who makes about six quilts each year. "There is a connection to the love of math and quilting. Everything is measured.
"Quilting used to be all by hand, but (now) there are very few hand quilters. It is now all done by machine," she said. "Quilting is two things. Quilting is the decorative stitching put on when the quilt is all together, in effect it is finished when the back is put on and the piecing is done. Yet, we say we are quilting when we are still piecing it together."
Quilters also learn about history at their monthly meetings. In October, Edward Bostick, a self-taught quilt maker and professor of history from Boston, will offer a presentation on quilting and how it relates to the black community, as well as an exhibit of some of the quilts he's made.
The Sea Island Quilters also work to keep the community covered. The group has given away more than 100 quilts to nonprofit groups such as Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse, the Child Abuse Prevention Association, Beaufort Memorial Hospital and to the Women's Center of Beaufort. Each summer, the group celebrates Christmas in July by working on items to be sold at the Friends of Caroline Hospice's Festival of Trees fundraiser.
"This also gives us ideas of gifts to give to our family and friends," Flanagan said.
The group also offers a scholarship or grant to anyone who studies the fiber arts. The guild's outreach doesn't stop there -- it also supports Friends of Caroline Hospice, offers quilting workshops and displays quilts at various locations in the community.