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A story for every quilt

People at the Thread Benders Quilt and Trunk Show this weekend said quilting brings together creativity and fun

Photo by Deb Gau Bonnie Longtin, of Canby, shared some of her favorite quilts in a trunk show during the Thread Benders Quilt and Trunk Show in Marshall on Saturday. One quilt Longtin talked about came from a kit called “Metro Tiles.” The patterns in the quilt were inspired by tile patterns at German train stations.

MARSHALL — They called it a trunk show, but the showcase for nearly 40 of Bonnie Longtin’s favorite quilts really involved a mattress and a couple of stepladders.

As Longtin spoke, volunteer assistants helped pick up each quilt from a mattress piled high with them. They passed the quilts up to volunteers on the ladders, who held the quilts out for an audience of more than 50 people gathered at the Adult Community Center.

“This is one of my favorite quilts,” Longtin said, as assistants held up a quilt with blue and purple circular patterns. Longtin pointed out details in the design. “They look like circles, but they’re not,” she said. Each “circle” was really made up of smaller triangular fabric pieces.

The reveal of each quilt would draw appreciative “oohs” and “ahs.” Some audience members took out cell phones to snap pictures of their favorite designs.

Sharing ideas and appreciation for quilt projects was an important part of the whole show Saturday, at the Thread Benders quilt guild’s 19th Quilt and Trunk Show.

“The more people you can get into quilting, the better it’s going to be,” Longtin said.

The show featured more than 100 quilts, and Longtin, a Canby resident who has made more than 6,000 quilts, did trunk shows on Saturday.

The show drew both quilters and folks who enjoyed seeing the variety of quilt projects. There were colorful patchwork quilts, quilted jackets, and quilts decorated with appliques — and even doilies, in the case of one quilt.

Quilters at the show said they got into the craft for the fun of it. Marcella Matthys said putting together a quilt is a challenge, that also lets you be creative.

The trunk shows included a variety of different kinds of quilt projects, from a T-shirt quilt to quilts made from kits or patterns. Some of the designs had names.

“I called this one, ‘the Wild Side,'” Longtin said, introducing a quilt with blocks of animal-print fabric. Another quilt, with bright blue and green peacocks, was inspired by the peafowl on the grounds of Schell’s Brewery in New Ulm. “The back’s pretty wild too,” Longtin said, as her assistants helped turn the quilt over to show its colorful backing. “You’ll need sunglasses.”

A few of the quilts in Longtin’s collection were antiques she’s collected over the years. One unfinished quilt top dating back to the 1930s had a story behind it. Longtin’s daughter had been left the quilt top by a friend of her grandmother. The quilt used a kind of pattern called “Grandmother’s Flower Garden,” where small hexagon-shaped pieces make a floral design. But in this quilt, the “flowers” were arranged in a less-common diamond pattern. Longtin also pointed out an empty spot on the quilt top.

“They left one square open, so evil spirits can get out,” she said. All together, the unusual things made for a special quilt.

Getting to share her work with others was a fun part of quilting, Longtin said. But she also encouraged people to try quilting for themselves.

When they see her quilts, Longtin said, “People say, ‘I can’t do that.’ But yeah, you can.”

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