Suncoast Quilt Expo includes 180 quilts at Bradenton Convention Center

vmannix@bradenton.comMarch 7, 2014 

PALMETTO

Quilts have been a sentimental fabric in the texture of Carol Lipp's life.

"I've never owned a blanket," said the Indiana native. "My grandmothers, my mother and my aunts all quilted -- and I have 15 aunts. I still have quilts they made. They're heirlooms."

Julie Carr can relate.

Her great-grandmother and grandmother collaborated on making quilts for Carr and her siblings growing up in Ohio.

"They did one for each of us as a graduation present," she said. "There were

10 of us."

Quilting has been a legacy in Cheyral Stein's family, as well.

"Five generations," said the Illinois native. "I've made quilts for my grandbabies and great-grandbabies, too."

Stories like theirs will abound Friday and Saturday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto. The Manatee Patchmakers is hosting the Suncoast Quilt Expo, a juried quilt show that accepts quilts from all over. More than 180 quilts will be on exhibit, plus 50 for auction.

The two-day event will also include the 2013 All-America City Quilts, an awards program featuring quilts made of quilt squares representing defining features of the participating communities.

The Suncoast Quilt Expo is the apex of a two-year quilt project by the Manatee Patchworkers. The 100-member guild offers workshops, performs community service projects and provides hundreds of quilts a year to area nonprofits.

The projects include bed quilts, wall hangings in traditional, modern and freestyle, as well as wearable art.

That resonated with Lipp, president of Manatee Patchworkers, and her guild members as they hung quilts at the center Thursday.

"In the early days, a lot of quilts were made with a lot of leftover clothing," she said.

Said Carr: "A quilt of mine had pieces in it from my old junior high school dresses."

Stein topped that.

"We made them out of whatever was available -- including feed sacks," she said.

Jann Warfield can't count the number of quilts she has made, but she remembers the first.

It was for her first child, a boy, in 1969.

"Playpens back then came with thin vinyl pads," Warfield said. "He was due in August, and I wasn't going to have my new baby on a thin vinyl pad in august. So I made a quilt. It was a practical thing for me, but then it grew into a creative process. I really got into it as an art form."

For Randy Carman, quilting is an expression of kindness.

"It's just such a nice feeling of accomplishment when a quilt is done and I give it to someone. That's the thrill," she said. "I'm giving love and comfort to somebody who is ill, or a relative, or it's for a special occasion."

Daily programs at the Suncoast Quilt Expo will include quilt sales and demonstrations as well as vendors and raffles.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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