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Five years, and a bit of quilting
Ech 2-25-11 Photo A
Seated at the quilt are left to right: Carrie Mock, Bobbie Dean, Evelyn Roberts, Norma Exley, Denese Parker and Cora Kight. - photo by Photo provided

This week makes five years that this column has been in print in the Effingham Herald.  To be exact, that is 260 issues and one can only guess how quickly each week comes around. Over the years of compiling or writing the articles, I appreciate the suggestions, photos and ideas shared by you. I am grateful to the members, who have helped, especially Norman Turner who has provided so much historical data. The occasional guest columnists are very much appreciated also.

For those of you who follow Echoes weekly online, the Herald was not online for several of these years so some issues are not archived. You can access many old articles by doing a search on the Herald’s Web site for Echoes or visiting our files at the Effingham Museum.

As the day draws to a close and deadlines are near, I have been drawn to some old photographs of an art that is nearly lost — quilting. The accompanying photographs were taken in the clubroom of the Treutlen Building, which was the meeting place of the Home Demonstration Clubs from throughout the county. This was part of the Georgia Extension Service. These pictures were probably from the late ’60s or the ’70s.

The quilting bee or party is an old time, friendly gathering of neighbors and later club members to make a quilt. The host prepares the quilt to be quilted by stacking the layers together. It consists of a top  (usually a patterned pieced design such as wedding ring, Dutch dolls, sun flower, rainbow around the world, odd fellow, etc.) and a fabric backing for the quilt (often a solid color or fine printed coordinating material). These two pieces of the quilt are sandwiched with some soft substance in between such as wool or cotton batting.

The material is placed on a special quilting frame and ladies gather to stitch the quilt together in the desired pattern sewing all layers of the quilt together and finishing the edges. Sometimes the quilting stitches follow the design or sometime the quilting is done in rows or some other pattern. This stitching of the material keeps the batting from shifting and getting lumpy. It usually takes longer to piece the quilt top together than to quilt it.

Simple quilts are often just tacked or stitched in spots to hold the batting in place.  The quilts of yesterday were made of fabric scraps, feed sacks or whatever was available.  Cotton quilts or wool quilts were made and occasionally cotton quilts had wool batting for warmth. In unheated homes of the past, a pile of quilts on your bed was a weighty comfort. The old quilts are now very collectible.

Some old quilts bring hefty prices at auctions and in antique shops. The highlight of the quilting bee was the lunch and snacks shared by the ladies and the fellowship and conversation among the neighbors and friends.

About the only quilting that I know of today is done annually by the Clyo Homemakers Club. They make a quilt to raffle for scholarship money for lucky 4-H students going to college.

Quilts can tell a story of the dresses and clothes worn in the family during a certain time frame because it contained scraps of all the fabrics. Stitches on quilts by individuals now long gone in our family are a beautiful memento of the art of quilting to be treasured and appreciated by those of us lucky enough to own a quilt passed down from generations before us. This is an art that seems to be rejuvenating in some areas of the country and we hope will stay around for many generations to come.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: