Every year, local quilters come together to share their artwork with the community.

They enjoyed displaying their work, sharing techniques and chatting with each other during the Annual Quilt Show last week.

The 22nd annual show was held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., March 7, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tullahoma.

About 30 quilters from Coffee County participated in the event, exhibiting more than 100 of their art pieces, according to Alice Ley, president of Tullahoma’s Heirloom Quilters’ Guild.

“This quilt show is a combination of the three Coffee County Quilt groups: Manchester Quilting Ladies, Girls’ Night Out Quilting Society and Heirloom Quilters’ Guild,” Ley said. “We come together once every year – this is our 22nd year – and we bring our quilts, display them and invite everybody to come see what we have been doing.” 

Dozens of locals took advantage of the free event and attended the show to admire the artwork of quilters.

The displayed work included whole-cloth quilts, applique and machine-embroidered pieces.   

A whole-cloth quilt is made of a single, wide fabric, with the quilting stitches forming the design.

The applique technique is different. The design is in the careful cutting, stitching and layering of elements to artfully build a scene.  


Donating their work

“Quilting is something we love and it is our passion,” Ley said.

The local members of the quilting groups often donate the fruit of their labors to charitable organizations.

“Besides the quilts we make and keep for our families, we also make quilts for Ronald McDonald House and we donate those quilts,” Ley said.

The craft workers also make quilts for Quilts of Valor Foundation. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to “cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor,” according to foundation’s website. Quilts of Valor Foundation was launched in 2003. 

An entire wall was adorned with Quilts of Valor during the event. All of these quilts will be awarded to a veteran this month, said Ley.

“Quilts of Valor can be awarded to any member of the armed forces that served during a war,” Ley said. “They don’t have to necessarily have been oversees during war, but they have to have served during a war. A member of the guilt nominates the person – it can be someone they know, someone they go to church with, [or] a neighbor.”

Many of the pieces in the exhibit were quilts made for family members.

“We [displayed] the quilts we love to make for our families and our churches,” Ley said.


A special hobby

In addition to the joy of showing off their skills, the quilters enjoy sharing ideas and stories during the quilt events.

“We come together and we work on our quilts during the show,” Ley said. “We also do that at the Coffee County Fair – we have a table and we will be working on quilts there to keep everything alive. We want everybody to be able to see how it’s done and enjoy it just like we do.”

Quilting is a rewarding hobby, said Ley.

“It is something we do individually and together,” she said. “Each quilt is an expression of something, and it’s special because you make it yourself.”

Receiving a quilt as a present has a special significance.

The hobby also allows the artists to express themselves using their talent.

“If you are giving it as a gift, it is extra special because someone took the time to make it for you,” Ley said. “A lot of these we have chosen to keep for ourselves, and they are expressions of our artistic ability, as well as something we have made with our hands.”

Betty Henninger, of Tullahoma, was one of the participants at the show. Henninger is a member of the Heirloom Quilters’ Guild.

Henninger won the quilting category’s Best of Show award at the county fair last year.

Each year at the fair, quilting is one of the most popular exhibits among the craft shows, and Henninger has participated for years and won a number of awards.

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.