Although many of us associate quilting with grandmas and the warmth of home, this traditional craft of piecing together small scraps of fabric into functional art is much broader. Quilting combines design, technical sewing skills, creativity, and persistence. Some quilters make gifts for babies, memorial quilts, or wedding quilts that are passed down through families for generations. Others do it purely for artistic expression, and enjoy competing in the myriad quilt shows and exhibitions in the area each year.
Quilting can be a social activity and many quilters join guilds to share their love of the craft, learn about new techniques, and meet like-minded friends. Evelyn Mattonen, President of The Region of York Quilters Guild, says “guilds are for anyone who has an interest in quilting, and most have talented members who can help point you toward resources, provide inspiration or teach new skills. Brand new quilters can take classes at sewing stores or even on YouTube—there are lots of ways to learn depending on your learning style.” All of the local guilds allow non-members (guests) to drop-in for a small fee.
Debbie Smith, manager of The Quilt Store in Newmarket, has witnessed growing interest in recent years as more retired and semi-retired Boomers explore and fall in love with the craft. Although the majority of quilters are women, Smith says “we do have a small number of men attending classes, and many spouses show support by getting involved in choosing colours and shopping for sewing machines.”
Curious about the quilting scene? Here are a few local resources:
The Region of York Quilters Guild
200 members strong, this guild meets at 7:15pm on the 4th Wednesday of each month (Sept. to May) at the Newmarket Community Centre.The RYQG hosts workshops, retreats, a quilt show, and “Sew Social” evenings and gives back to the community through a variety of outreach programs.
The Moraine Guild
This guild meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 1-3pm with an informal “social sew” from 9:30am-12:30pm. They meet at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newmarket. They offer a retreat, “trunk shows” workshops and outreach initiatives.
The Gwillimbury Quilt Guild
Members meet at 1pm on the 4th Monday of the month from September to May at the Queensville Holland Landing United Church. They offer socials, guest speakers, outreach, and an annual quilt show.
The Quilt Store
Formerly known as Evelyn’s Sewing, The Quilt Store at 17817 Leslie Street in Newmarket offers quilting classes from beginner to advanced, kids programs, embroidery and sewing clubs. They also host a charity group that makes garments, slippers and quilts for local hospitals. They sell everything you need for your projects (from sewing machines to software) including a wide array of fabrics.
That Sewing Place
Located at 16610 Bayview Avenue in Newmarket, That Sewing Place offers a wide array of sewing classes, beginner quilting, project classes and clubs. They sell sewing machines, a wide range of accessories, and a limited quantity of fabric.
If you’ve been thinking about giving quilting a try, or want to improve your skills, know that you are situated in one of the best places in Ontario to find supplies and resources. Crawling into bed at night under the warmth of a beautiful, one-of-a-kind quilt feels really special. Being the maker of that quilt can be a source of accomplishment, love and pride.
by Elaine Jackson
The Region of York
Quilters Guild, Newmarket
The Moraine Guild, Newmarket
The Gwillimbury Quilt Guild, Queensville
The Quilt Store, Newmarket
That Sewing Place, Newmarket