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King George quilter earns honors
Mandie Burrell's fingers work the thread as she uses her Gammill quilting machine.
DAVE ELLIS/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY EDIE GROSS
It was a last-minute decision for Mandie Burrell.
Though she'd been quilting for 12 years, she'd participated in only a few contests.
And though she'd earned several ribbons at state and local fairs, she didn't expect to get any recognition when she entered one of her creations in the American Quilter's Society's international competition.
So the King George County mother of three was stunned this summer to learn she was a semifinalist in a contest that drew hundreds of entries from 41 states and seven other countries.
Her quilt, along with 229 others, is on display this week at the AQS Quilt Show, a prestigious event in Des Moines, Iowa, that's expected to draw about 15,000 people.
"I am floored," said Burrell. "I never go to quilt shows. On a whim, I was, like, well, I'm just going to go ahead and send it in."
Though it took her eight months to piece together the queen-size quilt, Burrell called it "Simplicity" because of its traditional design. It's based on a pattern from 1860, she said.
The quilt earned second place at the 2009 Virginia State Fair and picked up a third-place ribbon at the 2010 Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair. That recognition would've been enough, she said. But in July, she learned that "Simplicity" was an AQS semifinalist, putting her in the running for $44,000 in prize money.
"I really, truly didn't expect anything from this quilt," she said. "Not that it's not good enough, but the competition is insane."
LOVE, SWEAT AND TEARS
Burrell, 36, grew up crocheting alongside her mother, but she didn't attempt quilting until about 12 years ago. At the time, she was working full time as a contractor at Dahlgren. One day, she picked up her kids at the baby sitter's house and noticed a beautiful quilt hanging over the woman's staircase railing.
"I said, 'Where did you get that?' She said, 'Oh, I made it,'" said Burrell, who was astonished. "I never knew quilting was an art, something you could do. I thought you just went to JCPenney and got a bed in a bag."
GROUP'S MEMBERS ARE ALWAYS IN STITCHESIf you enjoy quilting--or would like to learn--consider joining a guild or club. The Virginia Consortium of Quilters maintains a list, along with meeting times, at vcq.org. CULPEPER QUILTERS GUILD, Culpeper United Methodist Church, 1233 Oaklawn Drive, 7 p.m., first Thursday of month; 540/825-4740 or infowomen.org/culpeperquilters VIRGINIA STAR QUILTERS, Harrison Road Community Center, 4728 Harrison Road in Spotsylvania, 7 p.m., third Wednesday of month; 804/448-8105, info@vastar quilters.com or vastarquilters .com RIVER COUNTRY QUILTERS, First Presbyterian Church, 6470 Main St. in Gloucester, 7 p.m.. on fourth Tuesday of month. 804/725-9412 or mattox4xboys@ hughes.net KING GEORGE VILLAGE QUILTERS, St. Paul's Episcopal Church at State Routes 206 and 218, 6 p.m., second Friday of month. 540/663-2544, webeditor@kgquilters .com or kgquilters.com DOLLEY MADISON QUILT GUILD, Dogwood Village community room, 120 Dogwood Lane in Orange, 7 p.m., fourth Tuesday of month. 540/672-4623 STAFFORD PIECEMAKERS QUILT GUILD, Porter Library, 2001 Parkway Blvd., 7 p.m., second and fourth Mondays. 540/659-4909, email@example.com or staffordpiece makers.com FAUQUIER COUNTY QUILTERS, Bethel United Methodist Church, 6903 Blantyre Road in Warrenton, 7 p.m., first and third Tuesdays of month. 540/349-8473 or firstname.lastname@example.org UPTOWN QUILT GUILD, Cobham Park Baptist Church, 13829 Historyland Highway (State Route 3) in Warsaw, 10 a.m., third Wednesday of month. 804/224-7236 THE WANNABEES, Marshall Center, 8800 Courthouse Road in Spotsylvania, every Tuesday at 9 a.m.
In addition, the American Sewing Guild, Northern Virginia Chapter usually meets at 10 a.m., the second Saturday of each month at Quilt and Sew, 3940 Plank Road in Fredericksburg. There is no October meeting. On Nov. 5, the meeting is from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and on Dec. 3, it runs from 2 to 4. asgnova.orgQuilt and Sew is organizing a community service project to have volunteers create lap quilts and cough pillows for use at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center. Contact Claudia at 540/548-2377 for detailed instructions.
BY EDIE GROSS
In a back room of Spotsylvania's Marshall Center, Elaine Murphy painstakingly sews small white stitches across squares of red, white and blue.
Every now and then, she pauses, looks up from the quilt that spills across her lap and chats with one of the women seated near her.
There's no hurry. Murphy's been hand-stitching this quilt for the last 15 years.
"I put it up and forget about it. Then I take it out and work on it a little," she said, smiling. "I get distracted easily."
Distractions are welcome at the weekly meetings of the Wannabees quilting group. Members bring along their projects and trade tips and suggestions.
But they also spend plenty of time socializing and enjoying each other's company.
"This is kind of an everybody's welcome group," said Jane Schultz of Spotsylvania.
They meet each Tuesday at 9 a.m., and often go to lunch together several hours later.
"Sometimes there's three. Sometimes there's 13--or 30," said Sandy French.
Some have been stitching for decades. Others are new to the craft.
"We all do this with a sharp needle," said French of Spotsylvania. "I say it's not a quilt until you've got a drop of blood on it."
Though it was founded as a quilting group, members often bring other handiwork--cross stitch, embroidery and knitting--along as well.
Some are also members of area quilting guilds, where stitchers gather monthly to discuss projects, enjoy workshops and use their talents to benefit charities.
All enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the Wannabees.
"It's a very casual, friendly group, and we help each other," said Oneida Stephens of Fredericksburg.
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428