More than 100 quilts were on display at Pacific Flyway Quilters’ 25th annual Quilt Show at the Colusa County Fairgrounds on Saturday, and each carried a storied past.
Quilts of all sizes, styles, colors, and fabrics were hung from the rafters like priceless pieces of art, many of which were made by the exhibitors, for the exhibitors, or for other people.
Mary Lou Mendum, of Davis, isn’t only a quilter, but she and her husband are avid birders.
Her quilt, “Birds of Yolo County,” was created from her own drawings of seasonal and year-round birds, all pieced and quilted by hand.
Dan Harrell’s “Cathedral Window” was a display of the craftsmanship of his Montana grandmother, Lena Jones, who made the quilt as a wedding gift to her grandson in 1983, before she passed away in 1987.
Stephanie Quintana’s “Pansies” was a quilt she made from blocks made by the guild in memory of her mother, Sally Steidlmayer, of Colusa, whose unexpected death in 2010 left “a huge hole” in Pacific Flyway Quilters, of which Steidlmayer was a founding member.
Pacific Flyway Quilters, which was formed in July of 1992, titled the 25th anniversary show “Bloomin’ Quilts,” and featured various floral themed quilts.
Payton Brookshire-Thompson, 10, of Williams, stitched the top of her “Payton’s Garden” quilt, which was bound and finished by her grandmother, Emma Thompson, who also displayed several of her own works of art.
Alice Brown and Shirley Maupin, both of Arbuckle, displayed several quilts crafted for Pacific Flyway Quilters’ 25th anniversary challenge.
The show also featured older and vintage quilts, including Mary Overton’s first quilt titled “Log Cabin,” which she made in 1992, and Jan Pearson’s 1930s era quilt (maker unknown), which she received as a gift.
Pacific Flyway Quilters President, Yvonne Phenicie, said the annual event has evolved over the years from just a quilt show to an exposition that includes vendors. This year’s vendors included Sew-n-Piece Quilt Shop, in Marysville; Pieces of Love Quilt Shop, in Oroville; Material Handlers, in Williams; Thirty-One, independent consultant Joyce Brookins, of Colusa; Villa Rosa Designs, of Smartsville; and Sweet Beans Bakery, in Colusa.
“In just the last few years, we’ve added vendors,” Phenicie said. “All our shows in the past had just been the quilts. We wanted to include vendors because it lets people in this area know there are other quilt shops in the area.”
Guild members, however, fear quilting could become a dying art if younger people don’t take up the needle and carry on the traditions of their mothers and grandmothers, many of whom are gone now.
“We started out with 75 members,” Phenicie said. “We are now down to about 25.”
With the onset of mass production, quilting changed from being a necessary home chore to a hobby or artistic expression, but it wasn’t until the absence of home economic in school and sewing in 4-H that resulted in a generation of people who never learned to sew.
“A lot of moms don’t have that connection with their kids,” Phenicie said.
Changing lifestyles are also responsible for the decline.
Melisa Yerxa-Ortiz, with her toddler son Max, went to the show Saturday in search of Agafia Thomas’ “Firetruck” quilt, although she isn’t a quilter herself.
“My mother and her friends have been quilting for a long time,” said Melissa Yerxa-Ortiz. “I don’t have many skills (at the sewing machine) but I enjoy seeing all their fabulous hard work.”
One, however, can never predict what might spark a person’s interest.
Ashley Coffey, 34, owner of Pieces of Love Quilt Shop, has been sewing since the age of five.
“My stepmom bought me a machine and gave me some material,” she said. “I sort of taught myself over the years, and about four years ago, I decided to open a shop. I love it.
I enjoy quilting and I design my own designs.”
In addition to quilting as a hobby and art, Pacific Flyway Quilters members are well known for their community service.
In 2018, the guild made a total of 55 quilts, many of which went to men and women at Valley West and to veterans.
They also made 42 drawstring bags for foster youth, 14 wheel chair totes, 23 walker totes, 40 pet beds and six pet scarves (for the animal shelter), one pet bed for the Williams K-9, and 70 Dolly quilts with a stuffed animal for the CHP and Williams Police Department, which are handed out to children involved in crisis situations, such as vehicle accidents.
“We do quite a bit for a small guild,” Phenicie said. “We only have about 25 members, so we do a lot of community service, and we are proud of that.”