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Appalachian quilting traditions celebrated with Block Party April 9-21

ABINGDON, VA — Historic Abingdon, Va will be the site of the 3rd annual Block Party which celebrates the craft and heritage of quilting. From April 9-21 quilts will be on display at 33 venues throughout Abingdon. There will also be live demonstrations, lectures, and quilt documentation.

Admission is free to all venues, but hours will vary.

Noted quilt historian Neva Hart will document quilts for the Quilt Consortium of Virginia and the Quilt Museum of Virginia on April 10th and 11th at Holston Mountain Artisans. Quilt documentation is part of a large project that collects the history of quilts and, where available, the genealogy of the quilt maker and her family. Every quilt has a story, and documentation is a way to preserve these stories for generations to come.

A number of other events will also be held during the celebration, including presentations on quilt squares that tell the stories of the Civil War, masterpiece quilts from the DAR Museum, Appalachian quilting traditions, and more.

For those who are interested in learning how to quilt, or improving their skills, there are a number of classes available, including the traditional technique called “Cathedral Windows,” needle turn applique, as well as classes on making a quilt in a day and weaving rag rugs from quilting scraps.

An Old Fashioned Quilting Bee and raffle will be held by the Wolf Hills Quilt Guild throughout the event at Lights at Stone Mill. A “Bed Turning” event will be held on April 18th at which quilts and quilt tops are layered on a bed and one by one their stories are told as they are turned back to reveal the next quilt.

Abingdon’s two quilt shops will be offering discounts, along with displays of vintage quilts from the archives of the Historical Society, wooden Barn Quilt Squares, and historic quilting tools.

Abingdon’s Block Party is presented by Holston Mountain Artisans, Abingdon Main Street, the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Wolf Hills Quilt Guild and with the assistance of the Historical Society of Washington County Virginia, Blacks Fort Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Fields-Penn 1860 House Museum.

Quilters can submit their quilts, wall hangings, and quilt tops for the Block Party. Holston Mountain Artisans will be accepting quilts now through April 4, 9:30am to 4:30pm at its store at 214 Park Street in Abingdon, VA. Submitted quilts will be displayed in town as part of the event. There is no charge to participate.

Calendar of Events:

April 9: Opening day

April 10: “Made in Virginia”, quilts lecture by Neva Hart at 7 p.m. at the Washington County Public Library. Neva Hart is a quilt historian. She works with the Quilt Museum of Virginia and the Quilt Consortium of Virginia.

April 11: Town trolley runs all day

April 11: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m., quilt documentation (by donation) by Neva Hart at Holston Mountain Artisans Annex.

April 11: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m., quilt documentation (by donation) by Neva Hart at Holston Mountain Artisans Annex.

April 11: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., quilt class “Blue Ridge 1600″ by designer Carol Britt, at Abingdon United Methodist Fellowship Hall, 101 East Main Street, Abingdon. Instructor: Kristina Morris

April 12: 3 p.m. at the Yeary Cabin on Plumb Alley. Quilt lecture about Appalachian regional quilts by Abingdon’s Coordinator for the Historic Properties, Amy Looney.

April 14: 6:30 p.m., Historical Society of Washington County Virginia. A discussion of Civil War quilt patterns by Abingdon’s Coordinator for the Historic Properties, Amy Looney.

April 15: Lecture at 7 p.m., “Masterpieces of the DAR Library”, Washington County Public Library.

April 16: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., “Beginning Needle Turn Applique”, class at Virginia Highlands Quilt Shop. As the name implies, needle-turned applique involves using the point of the needle to turn under the raw edges of applique fabric as it is stitched down onto a background fabric. This class will teach you the basics of this technique. You will learn how to draw out your pattern, baste it down, and then applique it to the background fabric. This class will help you master both inside and outside curves and points which are necessary in all applique patterns. We will be using the folded cutwork technique and cut our patterns out of freezer paper. Instructor is Audra Rasnake. Fee for class is $45, which includes a $10 kit that contains the two fabrics needed for class and the embroidery thread. A sewing machine is not required.

April 16: 11 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.: Bed Turning at Light’s at Stone Mill. Hosted by Robin Freeman and Becky Ray. Bring your favorite quilt and share the story behind it!

April 18: Town trolley runs all day

April 18: 10 a.m.-3:00 p.m., “Cathedral Windows” class at Virginia Highlands Quilt Shop. Cathedral Window is a traditional patchwork technique interpreted in old quilts as rows of folded squares of off-white or cream-colored muslin with assorted fabric squares in the windows. This quilt is made without a traditional “quilt sandwich”, meaning you do not have to add batting, backing fabric, quilt the top, or bind the edges. Students will learn how to cut and prepare the background square, join the squares, add the windows, and construct the final project. Projects to choose from include a 16″ square pillow cover with squares for the front only or both front and back, a 17″ x 21″ wall hanging, a tote (9.5″ width, 9.5″ height, 3″ opening across the top), a 7″ x 9″ carryall for electronic devices such as Nooks or tablets or you can make squares and decide how to use them later. Instructor is Tracy Counts. Class fee is $35.

April 21: Last day

Ongoing Block Party Events: April 9-21

• Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia (at the train depot): Display of antique quilts and historic fiber pieces from the Society’s archives.
• Holston Mountain Artisans: 10% off selected quilts and quilt related items
Jeannine’s Fabrics & Quilts: Sale display of quilts by lifetime quilter Jeannine Widener
• Lights at Stone Mill: Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center barn quilt display and sale. Read more about the barn quilt project here.
• Virginia Highland Quilt Shop: sale
• Washington County Public Library: books about quilts on display

For more information, visit

Published April 3, 2015

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