Quilting bee-comes a craze

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When Cheryl Bush moved to Craig from Denver in 1977, she said she had a hard time adjusting to rural life.

"Instead of losing my mind, I quilted," she said. "That winter, I made eight quilts."

Her hobby has kept her company for 40 years since her mother taught her to quilt as a teenager. Now she enjoys passing on her passion to younger generations.

"I like teaching new quilters because they're fun, and I want the legacy of quilting to live on," Bush said.

That legacy is rooted in ancient history.

According to the International Quilt Study Center, the first evidence of quilting is an ivory carving found in the Temple of Osiris at Abydos that depicts an Egyptian king. The king is wearing a cloak that appears to be quilted.

Later, the art and craft of quilting crossed the Atlantic and came to America, where, Bush said, it was a way to show off the abilities of seamstresses with expensive fabrics. But quilting began with whatever materials people could find to put on their beds.

"They used to do this in China for warmth," Bush said. "Now we do it for warmth and beauty."

She said quilting almost became a lost art in the 1970s. Then manufacturers came out with rotary cutters and self-healing mats, products that made quilting easier than the time-consuming methods of the past.

Bush said quilters now have unlimited patterns for sewing their pieces, and can work in a variety of styles.

For example, traditional quilting is quite different from art quilting, which uses beadwork and photos printed onto fabric.

"Your imagination can go anywhere with it," Bush said.

Bush has made about 800 quilts since she began 40 years ago and said she still loves the work.

"I can do a (lap) quilt in a day if the gods are smiling and no one's bothering me," Bush said. "I like lap quilts because you can snuggle under them while you're watching the Olympics."

A lap quilt is usually about 50 inches by 65 inches. A full-size quilt is 80 inches by 90 inches and a king-size one is 120 inches square.

"You're looking at an investment of time," Bush said.

But new products are always coming out to speed up the process.

"That's why I like quilt shows because you see new things and new ways to use old techniques," Bush said.

Sometimes Bush teaches her students to use a sewing machine, but often, they already know how.

Bush's granddaughter, Lexi Drgac, 12, is one of those students. She had sewn before, but wanted her grandmother to teach her to quilt like she does.

"It looked pretty fun," Drgac said.

She has completed one quilt. She made hers light blue and uses it on her bed.

"I liked picking out the fabrics," Drgac said.

She said she enjoyed spending time with her grandmother while learning to quilt.

But Jaci Mock, a new quilter enrolled in Bush's beginner's course at KS Kreations, said she likes the alone time.

"It's therapy," Mock said. "It's something I can do by myself and not worry about anything else."

She has made quilts before but wanted to learn the intricacies of the craft. She said quilting is a way for her to relax and to make something that will become a family heirloom.

"It's something I can make for my grandkids," Mock said. "They'll be able to own it forever."

Cheryl Bush is teaching a beginner's quilting class at KS Kreations.

The first class was held Saturday. The group will meet again March 3 and 11.

The classes are $20 a session.

"We have a nice intimate group here," Bush said. "They get hands-on training." The group will work to complete a quilt top before the class wraps up. Bush said anyone interested can still participate.

"We'll catch them up pretty quick," she said.

Bush also is the founder of Hands-On Quilters, which meets regularly. The next meeting is at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Craig Fire Station.

For more information on the class or quilting group, call Bush at 824-2567.

-- Daily Press staff

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