Hand quilting takes time and patience but the intricate details are rewarding once the project is finished, especially for Judy McGraw. McGraw won grand champion for her quilt during the Anderson County fair this year — for the third year in a row.
The quilt she entered took about six months to complete.
During consideration at the fair, judges look for certain things in a quilt.
“They look for workmanship and if the stitching is even or not,” McGraw said. “They look for even quilting, the squareness of it and the design of the quilt.”
The quilt that won McGraw grand champion has vibrant colors bursting from the cloth. Flowers near the border have dazzling bead work.
McGraw said she gets ideas for her quilt designs from various places.
“Sometimes I get inspiration from a magazine or quilt books,” she said.
This particular quilt came in a kit. It had the fabric but McGraw had to design and sew it all by hand.
She also entered her quilt at the Allen County fair, where it received a blue ribbon.
MCGRAW said quilting is a hobby she enjoys after work. During the day she and husband Duane stay busy at their shop, Duane’s Flower Shop, 5 S. Jefferson Ave. She started her first quilt when she was young but didn’t finish it until many years later.
“I’ve been doing a lot of quilting in the last 20 years,” she said.
She got her start quilting because of her mother, a seamstress who sewed a lot of McGraw’s clothing for her as a child.
She is also part of a quilt guild that meets once a month at St. John’s Catholic Church annex. Although there is a large number of participants in the guild, very few still sew quilts by hand.
“It would be great for the next generation to learn it so doesn’t become a lost art,” McGraw said.
For those who want to begin quilting McGraw has a few tips for beginners.
“Start out with a simple pattern,” she suggests. “Don’t start out with anything too big or you’ll get discouraged.”