This weekend, all three levels of Proctors will be bustling with quilters and quilt admirers for “Autumn Inspirations,” the 13th biennial show of Quilters United in Learning Together Schenectady (QUILTS).
Quilts in a range of sizes, colors, styles and techniques will be on display, along with demonstrations, appraisals, door prizes, a silent auction, a raffle and a boutique with about 12 vendors.
In addition to the more than 200 quilts on display crafted by QUILTS members from all over the Capital Region, featured this year are four of the guild’s 130 members: Chris Kaczynski, Shirley Hedman, Cathy Gruyters, and Marie Miller, all founding members.
All four quilt by hand, a technique that is becoming increasingly rare. Less than 10 percent of the group’s members are hand quilters; the other prefer machine quilting.
“I’m a process person,” said Gruyters, a Schenectady quilter for 32 years. “It’s not about getting a lot of them done — it’s about enjoying the whole process of putting one together.”
She’s gotten a lot of them done over the years, and several will be on display at the show. There’s a quilt with red houses on a white, tea-dyed background, quilted with hundreds of tiny stars. Another is a space-themed one she made for her daughter, complete with a space shuttle, astronaut and a lunar module. Show attendees can also see a “signature quilt,” more than 30 years old, made with new fabric designed to look old and signed by members of Gruyters’ family, some of whom have passed on.
QUILTS 13th biennial quilt show ‘Autumn Inspirations’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $6
Kaczynski, a Schenectady resident, is showing a queen-sized quilt in a variety of blue fabrics in the “hunter star” pattern that is machine-pieced and hand-quilted — the latter process taking about nine months to complete. This is one of five quilts that she rotates on her bed throughout the year. She is also bringing a lap quilt with spools on a tan background in the colors red, yellow and green.
In addition to taking in the artistry of the region’s quilters, there are many other offerings at the show. People can bring old quilts to be appraised by Kathryn Greenwold, and there will be scissors sharpening offered for a fee.
Vendors will be on hand with a variety of fabrics and other quilting equipment and supplies, and there will also be demonstrations.
On display also will be a queen-sized red-and-black quilt called “Stone Soup,” done in the churndash pattern. All of the fabric has been donated by guild members, and members made the different blocks in the quilt, while others put it together and machine quilted it.
Proceeds to charity
It will be raffled off at the show, with part of the proceeds, along with other funds raised during the event, donated to the Northeast Parent & Child Society.
For the past 23 years, this organization has been the recipient of some of the guild’s philanthropic work. “We’ve done over 1,300 quilts that are given to the children, said Nina Whitney of Rotterdam, who serves as co-chair for this year’s show. After the quilt is assigned to a child, the quilters put a heart on the back with the child’s name.
Another fundraising effort at the show is a silent auction of antique quilts that have been donated to the guild.
Other charity efforts include making quilts for veterans. In 2004, some guild members began creating quilts for soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that there are not the numbers of severely injured soldiers that there were earlier in the war, the organizers of this project have asked quilters to supply quilts to patients at their local Veterans Administration Hospital, so guild members continue to send quilts to the VA Medical Center in Albany.
QUILTS’ latest charity effort is “Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts,” part of the “Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative, an effort begun by Ami Simms of Flint, Mich. to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research.
The word “priority” in the title emphasizes the urgent need for research dollars, as an estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer from the disease.
For this effort, members sew miniature 9-inch-by-12-inch quilts that are auctioned off online. Each has its own web page. They can be viewed at www.Alzquilts.org.
Attendees can take part in the judging of the “Tote Bag Challenge.” Members came up with their own designs for tote bags, which will be judged and then donated to a battered women’s shelter.
Members, who range in experience from novice to advanced, join the guild to participate in philanthropic projects such as these, as well as for a variety of other reasons.
“If you have a problem, there’s always someone who can help you figure it out,” Kaczynski said. They enjoy the friendship, the expertise gained from guest speakers, teachers and other guild members, and opportunities to take part in workshops and bus trips.
The guild welcomes new members and meets the first Thursday of each month at the First Reformed Church in Scotia.