Group promotes art of quilting in northern Maine

4 months ago

FORT KENT, Maine — Quilting is about more than making blankets, it’s an artform, according to members of a Fort Kent quilters guild hoping to help preserve the craft in northern Maine.

Cheryl Daigle and Joan Paradis, members of Northern Neighbors Quilters, a chapter of the Pine Tree Quilters Guild, are inviting new members to join the group. They are willing to help others learn to quilt and are in the process of forming a quilting class that may begin in the fall.

The Northern Neighbors is celebrating its 20th year as a group and is one of more than 60 Pine Tree chapters with a total of 2,000 members in Maine.

“We don’t want the art to die in this area. A lot of us are retired and older. We want to keep the young generations going with it,” Daigle said.

Quilting is a healthy pastime for a variety of reasons, according to the women who do it.

“People think quilters are crazy because we buy beautiful material, cut it up and sew it all back together,” Daigle said. “It is very calming. I find it relaxing, and as we get older it’s a wonderful thing for our minds because it challenges us all the time.”

“‘Emotionally it’s restful. If I were stressed at work and I’d quilt I’d be a whole new person,” Paradis said. “It’s a whole lifestyle I would say really.”

Part of that lifestyle for the Northern Neighbors involves giving quilts away. They craft quilts for family members and local assisted living centers and also design them for the Quilts of Valor project, which provides quilts to military veterans.

Of course prolific quilters keep a few for themselves.

“We all have a stash of them,” Daigle said.

Some quilters specialize in piecing, or sewing the fabric pieces together. Others may especially enjoy applique, or applying new fabric pieces on top of fabric pieces.

“I took a class years ago that taught 16 ways to applique. It’s such a broad field really to become involved in,” Paradis said. “The sky’s the limit as far as fabric goes.”

Finding just the right fabric can prove challenging at times.

One time, Daigle worked on a quilt when she realized she was short of just a small amount of fabric in the same pattern. After exhausting efforts to locate the fabric in several shops, she searched through Google and finally found the material at a shop in Denmark.

“Sure enough, I paid a mint for that yard of fabric but I got it,” Daigle said.

Information about joining Northern Neighbors, which has about 25 members, will be available at the group’s annual quilt show to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at the Fort Kent Senior Center. Admission to the event is free.

“We have lots of fun with lots of great members who are very knowledgeable,” Daigle said.

“The more the merrier,” Paradis said.

For information about quilting in Maine, visit mainequilts.org.