Flathead Quilters Guild Ready to Showcase Skills

By Beacon Staff

For many, the art of quilting requires fabric, thread, creativity and plenty of patience. And often, the reward for such an undertaking comes from an appreciative smile or a compliment on the handiwork.

The members of the Flathead Quilters Guild will have a chance to showcase their talent on Sept. 24 and 25 at the guild’s 29th annual quilt show at the Flathead County Fairgrounds. This year’s theme is “That Good Old Four Patch,” referring to the popular quilting pattern.

The show is one of the biggest in the valley, show chair Josie McCollum said. This year, McCollum said there will be about 180 quilts on exhibit for the public to peruse and judge on Friday.

On Saturday, the winning quilts in about 20 different categories will receive ribbons.

It will feature works from the Flathead Quilters Guild’s roughly 100 members, said Brian Dykhuizen. They live throughout the valley, from Rollins to Eureka, and many have overlapping guild memberships, he said.

Quilt entries are down this year from previous years, he said, but the public should still expect a show of unparalleled ability.

“It is an excellent show; Spokane has nothing on us,” Dykhuizen said. “The quality of the quilts is just outstanding, there are a number of award-winning quilters here in the valley.”

Pat Boeck, from Sierra Vista, Ariz., squares up half-square triangles at her booth during the 2009 Flathead Quilters Guild show.

As a quilter for 12 years and a serious one for 10, Dykhuizen said he is drawn to the craft because of the ease that fabrics can be transported. He began with traditional patterns, but eventually moved on to contemporary styles. Now, he creates his own patterns, and said he is shifting back toward the traditional style again.

Dykhuizen dyes his own fabric for his projects, adding an extra level of intensity to each one. His love for color began in art school and worked its way into quilting, he said.

So far, Dykhuizen has put about 60 hours into the quilt he is making for the upcoming show, but the time can vary for each project. One aspect of quilt shows that stays the same, though, is the secrecy.

“The interesting thing about quilters is they like to keep the quilt they are putting in the show under wraps until the show,” Dykhuizen said. “They tend not to show anybody.”

Quilting also works with his schedule as a stay-at-home parent, Dykhuizen said, because it is a craft he can set down and pick up again without losing inspiration or place.

Guild members are passionate about their craft, which was the impetus behind the first show in 1981. A group of women got together and wanted to showcase their hard work, he said, which prompted more members of the community to get involved.

The show has grown over the years, and now includes a featured artist and guest speaker. This year, Jan Weaver’s quilts will be on display as the featured artist, which McCollum said is a way to highlight their entire body of work.

“It’s just to recognize them and that we think a lot about their work,” McCollum said.

Guest speaker Brenda Yirsa will discuss her art, which McCollum said usually centers on creating flower pieces and patterns.

An assortment of awards containing quilted circles hang on a wall during last year’s Flathead Quilters Guild quilt show at the Flathead County Fairgrounds.

There is also a raffle to win a quilt made by the guild. This year’s quilt consists of four-patch patterns from multiple guild members and machine quilted.

The show begins Friday at 10 a.m. and runs until 8 p.m. The public is invited to judge their favorites during the first day, and see the results when the show opens for its second day at 10 a.m. The raffle will occur at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, and the show ends at 5 p.m.

There is a $5 entrance fee, with the proceeds going to the guild. However, Dykhuizen said the guild gives a scholarship worth up to $1,000 every year, depending on amounts available after guild costs.

Quilting vendors will also be present, both local and from out of state.

For McCollum, quilting offers a chance to get away with a productive hobby – one that can benefit others.

“It’s relaxing to me,” McCollum said. “It gives you a sense of fulfillment when you finish a quilt. And it’s a great gift – everyone loves them.”