A local history, through needleturn

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club pieces together success and friendship



“The Barns of Clallam County” could soon be in your living room.

The annual raffle quilt by the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club could go to one of the lucky $1 ticket holders at the club’s 28th annual show this weekend in the Sequim Middle School.

The immaculately detailed quilt created by 16 club members is the highlight piece along with 200-plus other quilts including work by featured artist Betty Cook of Joyce, who also worked on the raffle quilt.

Club members started on the barn quilt more than a year ago behind the idea of Diane Davis who said the appeal came from growing up on her family’s farm.

“Everyone in Sequim loves barns,” said Ann Taylor, who quilted the Eberle Horse Barn.

“Sure, they go out and take pictures of them all the time,” said Davis, who quilted the Richard Miller Barn.

After receiving permission to use the layout from another group, Davis approached the quilt club which liked the idea.

Each of the 13 blocks was needle-turn appliqued by a different artist and embellished with items like cheese cloth, silk ribbon and buttons. Eleven barns are or were in Sequim with one in Forks and another in Port Angeles.

Davis said the barns span at least 125 years and each of the quilters did extensive research for details.

“It gets down to the family histories of the area,” Taylor said. “We’re talking about great-great grandfathers here.”

Prior to the show, club members have been selling raffle tickets while displaying the quilt at various community events in previous months. Ticket sales will continue at the show.

Loretta Bilow, who quilted the Willis Chamber Barn, said the impact runs deep for many people.

“It brings tears to some eyes,” she said.

“Even if it’s not a part of your history, it’s a story quilt,” Cook said.

Featured artist

While the roots of “Barns of Clallam County” may run deep locally, Cook saw some recent national attention for one of her quilts “Sunrise on the Masai Mara” that will be on display at the Sequim show.

It won honorable mention in the Small Wall Quilts: of Longarm/Midarm Machine Quilted division at the American Quilter’s Society 2014 show in Paducah, Ky.

“I send a lot of quilts to the national show there which in the quilt world is like the Pulitzer Prize,” she said.

For her quilts, Cook works with Rhonda Coler of Sequim, a professional long-arm quilter, who uses a 28-inch throat compared to a standard 7-inch area to sew and quilt.

The pair has done several pieces together and has won this national award along with some local accolades.

“I just get lucky,” Coler said. “These wonderful artists give me their quilts to work on together.”

Cook, a retired mortgage banker, has been quilting all her life and became more serious about it in the past 15 years beginning in Alaska. She designs all her own quilts and has five or six going at a time.

“I never sell them,” she said. “I keep them or give them away. I send a lot of them to my daughter and grandchildren in London.”

The joy of quilts

The giving spirit of Cook and other quilters remains strong in the quilt club.

Sunbonnet Sues make a number of items including joy quilts, small quilts ranging from 12-20 square inches with a small animal, which go to patriotic groups for wounded or deceased veterans’ children and/or children in crisis in Clallam County after events like a home fire.

Bilow, who helps gather all of the animals and quilts, said many club members donate the materials and time and since starting the effort they’ve made nearly 2,500 quilts for children.

The Sequim Prairie Grange donates about 90 percent of the animals for the program, Bilow said, and donors of materials and animals can contact her at 582-0100.

For more on the club, visit sunbonnetsuequiltclub.org or attend a weekly meeting from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays at the Sequim Masonic Lodge, 700 S. Fifth Ave.


Annual Quilt Show

Who: Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club

What: 28th anniversary show

Where: Sequim Middle School,

301 W. Hendrickson Road

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 18-20

Details: $5 donation requested; 200 quilts from members, country store with handmade items from club members, raffles, heritage/heirloom quilt displays, demonstrations every hour

More: www.sunbonnetsuequiltclub.org


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