Dazzling Quilts Highlight American Folk Art


Modern quilts today are like dazzling textile masterpieces. At the San Juan County Fair, 127 quilts were on display. While the San Juan Quilter Guild babysits the quilts, they sell raffle tickets to support quilt donations to the community. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Northern Edge Casino and Traegers Bar

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In the old days, a pair of pants or a shirt were worn for 20 years, then cut down for pant scrubs or quilts. Quilts were valued, not so much for their appearance, but for the memories they embodied, for the good wearing quality of the cloth, and the thrift they represented. But modern day quilts are more like dazzling textile masterpieces, symphonies and stitches. Even at the county fair, you're watching the "Local News Network," Brought to you by the Northern Edge Casino and Traegers I'm Haley Opsal. 127 exquisite handmade quilts put together one stitch at a time were grandly displayed at the San Juan County Fair in Farmington. It takes three people hours to judge a single quilt. It's an arduous task, not taken lightly in any sense. Cheryl, who past president of the San Juan Quilter's Guild, says while she still teaches, she's done with the judging after serving that role for 30 years.

It's too hard. It's very demanding and takes a long time. Not just to decide, to examine each and every quilt to determine different aspects that you look for in judging. You always want to judge a quilt. Is it clean? Number one. Is it square? Are the corner square? Are they round? Is it evenly quilted throughout? Are the stitches even? Is it a pleasing to look at? Is it well executed and finished? That's pretty much what you look for.

It can take years to sew a quilt or sometimes, just a couple days. Either way, it's not cheap.

Well, it costs approximately to make a large bed quilt, it costs approximately $2,000 worth of fabrics. But the more fabrics you have in it, the more it costs of course, and the larger the item. And that does not include any labor time or anything like that.

The best quilts sell in the six to $10,000 range. Members of the San Juan Quilters Guild preside over the quilts at the fair. Making sure little ones with candied fingers stay far from the precious works. The Guild members sell $1 raffle tickets for the big drawing at the end of the fair. The money is used to buy fabrics for the quilts they sew, which are then donated to the community. At the fair, each Guild member has their favorite.

The lady that brought it in showed me the picture of the baby that she had used as a model for this picture. And when you see all of the tiny pieces of fabric that she has utilized to envision this baby's face in her mind in fabric. And then all of this intricate quilting that makes it visible and makes it have a life. I think it's stunning.

Techniques for making a quilt include hand sewing, machine stitching, or using a style called long arm quilting. Participants this year ranged from seven years old to 94.

Well, I think it's amazing. I think there are more quilts at the fair this year and I think the quality is I don't judge them. I just look at them. And I think the quality has gotten better and the colors are great. And they're very enjoyable for everyone to look at and appreciate.

The San Juan Quilter's Guild holds monthly meetings where they offer demonstrations, speakers, and trunk shows. They also have a drawing for a fat quarter, an 18 by 22 piece of fabric, for all the fabric relics out there. For more information, go to sjqg.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the, "Local News Network." I'm Haley Opsal.


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