You won’t find many rooms at the October Country Inn without one of Edie’s quilts draped over a chair, spread out on a bed, or hung on a wall. A few years back, Chuck and Edie spent 3 November weeks on a friends and family tour driving from OCI to Seattle, down to southern California, and back to OCI. During this 4,0000 mile journey, Chuck drove while Edie quilted.
Quilting is a tradition in New England, where warm bedding was needed to weather the cold winters. In the early days, commercial fabric was very expensive. It was essential for most New England families to make maximum use of everything. Saving every scrap of fabric was a part of life for all households. Often, the quilt-makers creative talents produced many varied and uniquely designed quilts from these small scraps of leftover fabric. Small pieces of fabric were joined
together to make larger pieces, called blocks, and these were sewn together to make a top layer. This layer was stretched out and pinned to a bottom layer with a thick batting material in the middle. The quilting consists of hand stitching the three layers together, usually in a pattern that matches the top layer’s pattern.
Quilting sometimes involved an entire community. Quilting bees were a common way to cut down on the extensive amount of time it takes to do the quilting. Groups of people would spread themselves
around a single quilt and each work on one small area. Quilting frames were often used to stretch the quilt layers, and maintain even tension to produce high quality quilting stitches. Quilting bees were important social events in many communities, and were typically held between periods of high demand for farm labor. Quilts were frequently made to commemorate major life events, such as marriages.
Although Edie has been sewing since she was 10 years-old, and is descended from at least 5 generations of quilters, she didn’t take up quilting until relatively late in life. About 30 years ago, some friends invited her to join a quilting guild. She’s been quilting ever since.
Once Edie decides on a pattern for a new quilt, and accumulates all the fabric, it takes her about 40 hours to cut out all the little pieces, sew them together into blocks, sew the
blocks together to form the top layer, sew the bottom layer together, and pin both top and bottom layers together sandwiching the batting in between. Now it’s ready to quilt. This is where the process slows way down. It takes on the order of 400 hours, spanning about a 6 month period, to hand quilt a queen-sized quilt. Edie could reduce this time by a factor of 100 by machine quilting instead of hand quilting. A casual observer may not even notice a difference between the two styles. But Edie would never even consider such a shortcut. It isn’t about the time. It’s about the heart. Obviously, for Edie, quilting is a labor of love.