The annual Quilt & Fibre Art Festival is returning to Waterloo Region next week, and there is a wide range of activities and events to keep even the most dedicated quilter busy.
From May 24 to 28, venues in St. Jacobs, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and New Hamburg will be home to the 16th annual festival that has attracted renowned quilt experts from around North America to Waterloo Region. Churches, businesses and community centres will open their doors to celebrate all things quilting.
According to the festival’s president, the entire quilt industry has moved beyond simple bed coverings to becoming a real art form.
“Whether it’s on a bed or hanging on a wall, it’s expanded and pushed out further than a traditional quilt that someone might have just on their bed for warmth,” said Lynn Wolf.
“Certainly if anyone wants a quilt, [this] would definitely be a great place to head out to see some beautiful work.”
A full slate of activities is planned throughout the region, from quilting demonstrations, appraisals and workshops, to the now famous Mennonite Relief Sale, which auctions off quilts on the 27th and 28th of May to raise funds for Mennonite Central Committee projects around the world.
Wolf also believes that quilting is rooted in the fabric of the local communities, as the past time brings families together and provides the opportunity to reminisce and share stories from their past.
“Maybe it started out utilizing some scrap material at home, and they could have looked at it and said, ‘That’s a piece from Suzie’s dress, and that’s somebody else’s apron’ and it almost told a story in itself. They may not have coordinated their colours completely back then, but it was something that was handed down in the family.”
With so much history tied up into a quilt, their value goes beyond merely the fabric and stitches holding it together, which is where a trained appraiser comes in.
“When I look at a quilt I’m looking at the physical appearance of the quilt, the workmanship, and I consider the markets that these types of quilts are sold in,” said Judy Lyons, who will be offering her appraisal services throughout the festival.
Lyons is a quilter herself and has been appraising works for about 11 years now. She says each one is unique, and every one tells a story – something insurance companies don’t always consider when valuing quilts for replacement purposes.
“When an insurance company is replacing your quilt, you don’t want them to say you’re only going to get the cost of the fabric, because that’s not proper coverage,” she said, adding that there are only about five accredited and certified appraisers in the entire country, including her.
Beyond the money and the sentimentality of quilts, the week also provides an opportunity for quilters to spend time together to share their passion with each other, and to explore and discover the works of other artists.
“For many people what’s fun is they just jump in the car and it’s like a little tour, they go to this place and that place, and so they have a lot of fun with it,” said Wolf.
“It’s amazing to see what people come up with, and they’re very inspirational; they have a lot of creativity that is somewhat humbling. I think a lot of people just get inspired.”
For more information about the Quilt & Art Fibre Festival, visit www.stjacobs.com.