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Quilters find escape, stitch up for festival

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Anne Humphrey threads a needle through her quilt during the Greenville Quilters Guild get together at the Pitt County Council on Aging Thursday afternoon.

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By Beth Velliquette
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

With all the news of the world, screaming TVs and busy days, there's a place where a group of women in Greenville go to find some peace.

They pull out their scissors, needles and threads and sort through the piles and piles of fabric they've accumulated and start to sew. They're quilters.

“I love to cut a piece, put the pieces together. It's kind of like my quiet time, my very peaceful time,” said Renee Fish, a five-year member of the Greenville Quilter's Guild. “It's my happy place where I can go to get away form the noise and the TV and all that.”

Recently, some of the guild members gathered at the Pitt County Senior Center on County Home Road for a quilting session, although you don’t have to be a senior to join the guild. The members are of all ages, with the youngest in her 30s and the oldest 92.

The women are getting ready for the Greater Greenville Quilt Festival later this month.

Some are finishing up their individuals quilts, which will be on display, or putting on the finishing touches on the group’s piece de resistance, the Cerulean Crush quilt, which will be raffled off during the festival.

The quilt, which they estimated as being worth about $3,000, is a thing of beauty with its cerulean blue colors and red trim.

The women in the guild designed the quilt themselves, and each worked on the blocks before putting it together into one big piece. Then they sent it to a professional quilter to stitch the intricate design into the quilt.

“We've been working on it for about a year,” said Peggy Nostestine, co-chair of the quilt show. “It's a gem.”

“Last year, the guild made more than $1,000 from the quilt that we made and this year I hope to do more,” she said.

The money they make from the festival and the raffle goes to buying materials for the quilts they make for the charities they support.

“We do all love to make quilts, but you can only own so many quilts so we have to find people who will love them,” Nostestine said.

The women work on quilts, quilted pillow cases, wall hangings, place mats, and other quilted items to give to individuals or charities, including the Ronald McDonald House, the Howell Center for infants and children who need medical care, the Center for Family Violence Prevention, Vidant Children’s Center, veterans, nursing homes, children with cancer, victims of hurricanes, Community Crossroads Center, the Guardian ad Litem program, and premature babies or babies that passed away.

It’s a wonderful gift to be able to do something you love and actually be of service for others,” Nostestine said. “Every other meeting we have a thank you note from some who has received some of our quilts.”

A quilting bee these days is different than the photos of quilting bees of days gone by. The women don’t sit around a big frame and all work on the same quilt. Instead, they work individually on their own quilts. Some follow the traditional patterns, like log cabin, patchwork, stars or diamonds, while others like to make art with their quilts.

Diane Gregg works on art quilts.

“They’re more free form, less structured,” she said. 

She might do an animal portrait quilt, or add embellishments like beads or use different types of thread or fabric when she makes a quilt, she said.

Dottie Peterson started quilting in 1998 after her mother died in 1997. Her mother had started a quilt but didn’t get a chance to finish it, she said.

“When she passed away, I had to finish it,” Peterson said. “I took a quilting class here.”

She kept quilting after she finished her mother’s quilt and likes to quilt alone and with a group.

Carol Nisbit, who periodically teaches beginning quilting, said the festival will include some quilts from the 1850s and 1860s.

She quilts about 20 to 30 hours a week and averages four or five hours a day, she said. “In my life I bet I’ve made 20 to 25 quilts.”

The Greater Greenville Quilt Festival will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 22 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 23 at First Christian Church, 2810 E. 14th St.

It will have about 130 quilts on display with some of them for sale, and other handmade items will also be for sale.

Between 20 and 30 antique quilts will be “turned” at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. Quilters share with guests the story behind the quilts during the quilt turnings.

There will also be a Children’s Corner, where children can play with quilt “paper dolls,” draw and learn to quilt.

Admission fee is $5. Entrance is free for people under the age of 18. 

For information about quilting, meeting times and the festival, or to buy raffle tickets online,  go to https://www.greenvillencquiltersguild.com/.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566.

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