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Threading together a milestone

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by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

There’s nothing piecemeal about members of the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club’s love for their hobby.

 

Every Wednesday, skilled crafters work intricately on projects big and small at the Sequim Masonic Lodge. For many, their efforts culminate in the annual show, now in its 25th year, during Lavender Weekend, July 15-17, at Sequim Middle School, 301 W. Hendrickson Road.

 

The club has more than 200 active members and has grown from 14 charter members. Their first show was May 7, 1987, at Sequim High School, following the group’s formation in April 1986.

 

Four of the original members Geri Angiuli, Hester Crary, Shirley Lehman and Win Skillman, attribute the group’s start to Peggy Johnson and Kennie Starzenski’s idea.

 

Crary said they recruited people through word-of-mouth and telephone calls.

 

The name Sunbonnet Sue comes from an old quilt pattern. Lehman said since club members live in the sun belt, “it was perfect and very appropriate.”

 

The name stuck and 25 years later the show has become larger. This year it includes 200 quilts, special quilts from featured artist Carol Clevenger, a country store of handmade items, demonstrations, raffles and more.

 

“The Sunbonnet Sue show has a reputation for being an exceptional show,” Crary said.

 

The show has become so popular, club member Judy Gates said, that they’ve received requests from out of state for the dates of the next show.

More than quilts

Members say quilting is just as big a draw to the club as conversation and friendship.

 

“People not knowing anything about quilting can walk in and talk to any table for an hour,” Gates said.

 

Longtime members say they continue to learn new things from each other and take classes even after years of experience.

 

“There’s not just one way to do it,” Lehman said.

 

Quilts come in all sizes and some members take their unique styles to the craft by using T-shirt fronts or making neckties.

 

“It’s amazing the amount of work people do,” Skillman said.

 

Sometimes fellow quilters help each other, such as Mary Kennedy of Diamond Point, who helped her friend Nancy Pellegrino of Sequim on her 1930s antique quilt.  

 

“I think the point of this club is to help each other,” Kennedy said. “We usually learn things from each other.”

 

Crary said they’ve always promoted education.

 

“People come here to learn, to teach and improve in their quilting,” she said.

Community quilts

One aspect of the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club that the original members instilled early on was helping the community. At their last Wednesday meeting of each month, club members gather their community quilts to donate to people in need and/or nonprofits.

 

They’ve donated hundreds, possibly thousands of quilts in different sizes in their 25 years. In 2010, they gave 150 quilts to the community.

 

One recent recipient was club member Esther Fiddler, who is submitting a quilt for the upcoming show. She experienced a house fire earlier this year, so club members took up a money collection twice to help her and made a king-size quilt.

 

“It’s unbelievable their amount of support,” Fiddler said. “I worked on many community quilts. Who would think I’d be the one to receive one back? These ladies have been incredibly supportive.”

Show their stuff

Many of the club members plan to show one or multiple quilts in the 25th show. Categories are small, large, art and clothing/accessories.

 

Some quilters will accept the annual challenge quilt contest, which this year focuses on a quilt that doesn’t exceed 120 inches, using two complementary colors and silver, and 25 of something — anything. Another prize goes to the best way of hiding the name Sunbonnet Sue in the quilt.

 

The club plans to raffle off two quilts for the club’s operations and the Sequim Lavender Growers Association’s annual high school scholarship. Raffle tickets are $1.  

 

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays at the Sequim Masonic Lodge, 700 S. Fifth Ave.

 

Membership is $50 a year, which allows you to come to meetings, take classes and participate in the show. Visit www.sunbonnetsuequiltclub.org for more information.

 

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