Show's quilts are expressions of the soul

Milford, PA. Milford Valley Quilters, celebrating their 30-year anniversary, display their work in a truly transformative art form.

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  • Jean Hoff with just a few of her prize winners (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • Cheryl O’Sullivan at the boutique table (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • From the “Be My Neighbor challenge” (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • Award winner to be raffled off in 2021 (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • “Wedding Mariner’s Compass” by Jarna Maniquet won first prize in the Pieced Large Handquilted category (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • In depicting her hometown of Sunnyside, Queens, Marie Sandauer won an award (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • “Apple Heads” by Lorrie Maringo (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • Some of the quilts on display (Photo by Linda Fields)

“Quilting allows you to express yourself in the technique, whatever is in your soul to come out."
Marie Sandauer, show coordinator

By Linda Fields

Quilting has been around for centuries in every part of the world. Originally, padded clothing and bedding were sewn for practical reasons, and those that survived are valuable heirlooms.

Today, quilting is not a necessity but is practiced as a relaxing hobby and as a rewarding art form by an estimated 21 million people in the United States alone.

The Milford Valley Quilters’ Guild celebrated its 30-year anniversary with their bi-annual show, titled “The Nature of Quilting 2019," held this past weekend at Delaware Valley High School. Mary Murray, a 22-year guild member, says that three decades ago, a group of eight to ten friends with the same interest began meeting in a knitting shop at the Upper Mill in Milford, Pa. The rest is history.

Murray estimates today there are 70 members, but times have changed.

“Our (local) population is aging and the most gung-ho quilters have either stopped or have passed away, and young people tend to be too busy," she said. “The price of cotton fabrics has risen. Young women are working now more than ever, and kids need to be chauffeured around — we’re in the country.”

Even so, there was plenty of interest and lots of eye candy at the show. Member Linda Edwards handed out programs, door prize tickets, and a way to vote on your favorite quilt. That was the most difficult part — of the 200-plus quilts, each was a beautiful work of art.

The featured quilter at the show was long-time member Jean Hoff of Shohola, Pa.

“Jean has perfected her craft with appliqué,” said show coordinator Marie Sandauer, pointing to one of Hoff’s many prize-winning quilts, “My Christmas Applique." Its fabric was entirely cut out, hand-stitched down, and hand-quilted. Her quilt “Alphabet 2013” added a third dimension with hand-embroidered flowers and letters.

Hoff said being the featured quilter is "quite an honor, and it’s nice to see people who can appreciate the workmanship.”

Hoff said her lifetime achievement may total up to 30 quilts, all hand-sewn, and all crafted since she turned 60. She said 19 of her quilts are on exhibit, plus, she’s made two banners for the Presbyterian Church in Milford and gifted several more.

A pageant of color and design

Doreen Phillips was at the show from Washingtonville, N.Y. She is a quilter and appreciated what she saw.

“I just enjoy looking at the quilts, the different colors, and patterns," said Phillips. "It’s a very nice show. A lot of talent and quilting techniques.”

“Quilting allows you to express yourself in the technique, whatever is in your soul to come out," explained Sandauer.

Hers was hand-pieced in a technique called English paper piecing and fussy cutting, and it won second place in the category Special Techniques Longarm Quilted.

Maryanne Kenny is a new member of the guild.

“I joined because I really enjoy quilting,” she said. “I came to the quilt show two years ago out of the blue, and I was hooked.”

Her first quilt was on display at the show.

Jeanne Duchemin of Milford was enthusiastic about attending for the first time.

“Some of the quilts are absolutely gorgeous," she said. "I wish they were all for sale.”

Cheryl O’Sullivan, who’s been a member for 17 years, was in charge of the boutique table, where hand-made items from guild members were for sale. A portion of the proceeds helps bring expert speakers to them monthly.

The next show for the Milford Valley Quilters’ Guild will be in two years, when they will raffle off another award-winning quilt. The Guild uses proceeds for community-minded projects, such as bed quilts for veterans, and scholarships to students pursuing an arts career, to name only a few.

O’Sullivan’s description of quilting says it all: “It is the most amazing thing to take fabric, cut it in pieces, and reassemble it into a whole different experience."

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