By Becky Quinten
It started with a quilting class at the Hopkinsville Community College. A random group of aspiring quilters learned and laughed, observed and marveled at each other’s quilting projects. The women had so much fun they decided to find a new place to meet after the semester ended. They decided to meet at the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library. Word began to spread and other quilters joined the group, forming the Knot Just Quilters quilting guild.
Sewing pieces of cloth together and watching them grow into a quilt is magical for this bunch. One could say these ladies are hooked.
Their enthusiasm is not limited by their resources, skills or styles.
“There is no right way to make a quilt, and every quilt should have a mistake because only God is perfect,” said longtime member Jean Bick.
The group dabbles with all methods of quilting. At first, all their patterns were hand-cut and hand-sewn. Today, they hand-piece, machine-piece, hand-quilt, machine-quilt and hand-tie their quilts together.
As the guild’s name implies, many of the members enjoy other creative pursuits as well, from knitting to basket weaving to painting.
Some members learned to sew with Grandma on her humming-belt-driven treadle sewing machine. Others began sewing in 4-H or home economics class by making clothes.
The quilters are keenly aware of the legacy of Kentucky quilters and their contributions to making quilting an art form. While individual projects are preferred, Knot Just Quilters has made several group quilts over the years. At the top of the list is their favorite project, a dogwood applique. They have stitched a blue-and-white Kentucky Star quilt, and more recently, a scrappy spider web quilt. Their most recent project was a quilt in memory of Sam Stansbury, a former member, in a pattern called Stained Glass Diamonds based on the log cabin pattern.
Last year’s challenge was a “Crayon Quilt,” a project where members made quilts using only the Crayon color they chose by blind drawing from a sack.
While the members quilt mainly for personal enjoyment, the group has displayed several exhibits of their work. Their first quilt show was hosted by the public library in the early 1980s. Another exhibit featuring the Crayon quilts and other pieces was at Hopkinsville Community College.
Historically, quilters are frugal and incorporate old and new fabrics into their designs. They also enjoy finding new fabrics at local quilt shops. The group has even made quilts out of old feed sacks, which took the pressure off of making a mistake.
“If you make a mistake, repeat it three more times and now it’s a design element,” noted Cheryle Dymek. All of the group agreed that every quilt must have one ugly fabric in it.
Basic quilting tools
- A sewing machine is desirable, but it is not required. Singer featherweights are highly desired by quilters because they are workhorses that are almost impossible to break, easy to use and portable. Dusting off Grandma’s treadle is also an option.
- A steam iron to smooth out the fabric is an important tool. Quilters iron every seam, making it easier to nudge fabric patterns into place and reduce seam bulk.
- Needles are essential, and most quilters have sharp, short quilting needles for hand sewing as well as embroidery needles and sewing machine needles. The sewing machine needles must be compatible with your machine. Not all needles work in every machine. Sharp needles are best not to create too large a hole in the fabric or change the sewing machine tension.
- Long flat-headed pins or oversized safety pins hold the quilt together. Marking pins and pattern templates make sure the pattern is uniform throughout the piecing of the quilt.
- Pencils, disappearing ink pencils, tailor’s chalk and similar pencils will be needed. Using an ink pen to mark the pattern on the fabric will leave ink on the quilt top and is not desirable.
- To hold the quilt top, batting and back together until they are firmly joined requires a hoop or quilting frame. Hoops can often be found in thrift shops.
- Sharp scissors are very important. Self-healing gridded cutting mats are very popular and can prevent scratches on your dining room or kitchen table. Rotary cutters and rulers make quick work cutting fabric strips.
- Any fabric can be used in quilt-making, but different fabrics create completely different quilt looks. The most popular fabric is 100 percent cotton. Because cotton can shrink, prewash it in warm water and press it smooth.
Tips to know before you sew
Fabric can stretch and spoil the quilt if it is not cut on the grain. If you are unsure where to cut your pattern, lay it out, pin your pattern on it and take it to a fabric shop. They will be happy to guide you. Be sure to cut off the selvages. Most quilters prefer to cut the fabric standing up so they will be able to apply pressure and get a clean cut. Multiple layers can be cut with a rotary cutter but should be basted before cutting so the layers don’t slip. Always measure twice, cut once.