It all starts with a phone call. The excitement and anxiety begins to build. Four members of the Sisters of the Cloth Quilt Guild are asked to go to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate quilting during the annual Folklife Festival sponsored by the Smithsonian.
Under the leadership of Guild President Maxine Stovall quilts, sewing supplies, sewing machines, fabric, and a good supply of chocolate snacks are gathered and stuffed into a 15 – passenger van for this historic trip. The early morning departure is filled with smiles and laughter as the luggage is loaded.
Transporting supplies to the Folk Festival site, the group discovers the use of “space bags” to provide a compact way to transport and protect the quilts.
Under a tent on the mall the ladies set up to sew and quilt in front of their quilt displays.
Festival attendees are invited to sign their guest book. Their guests first reaction is to wonder why there is no traditional book. Fabric squares and special pens are provided for guests to write their names and additional information. Talking with them the quilters discover that they have visitors from around the world. Often people would recall someone in their family who quilted or a special quilt from childhood. The signature blocks will be combined into Guest book quilts.
One individual signs their square and it is discovered their family’s last names/maiden names and Sisters of the Cloth quilter Sandi Brothers’ family names are not only identical, they are from the same hometowns! They plan to research their family trees for more common links.
Twice the group participates in a bed turning at a gazebo near their tent. This is the process of showing quilts by piling them on a bed-like form and as the narrator tells the story about the quilt, it is lifted off the bed and shown to the audience. Each quilter provides the story about the quilt chosen to represent her.
After enduring “The Storm” and the oppressive heat they survive the week in good fashion. Arriving back home exhausted but exhilarated for having this opportunity to share their love of quilting with people from around the world
Sisters of the Cloth Quilting Guild, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1999. Their motto is “Each One Teach One”. Guild members teach the craft of quilting and preserve the art of quilting for future generations.
Many thanks to Sisters of the Cloth President Maxine Stovall and guild member Sandi Brothers for their contributions to this article.