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Messiah quilters prepare for Historical Society’s annual quilt show

By Staff | Jul 13, 2010

The Clarkstown Messiah Quilters meet every Wednesday morning at the Clarkstown Lutheran Church. (Left to right) Deb Steransky, Frances Spring, Barbara Schwenk, Janet Confer and Ruth Wallis.

CLARKSTOWN – Twice a week about ten industrious women meet to gather together to demonstrate their fine hand quilting techniques and expertise with needle and thread. Since 1987 the group has been assembling quilts in the community for friends and charity. They average about ten quilts a year and each quilt takes four to six weeks. “It is a lot of fun and many hands make light work,” they said while finishing the last of the pieces for a quilt they will have available at the 6th annual Quilt show in Muncy on July 16, 17 and 18.

The show will be held at the Muncy High School and will have almost 200 quilts on display for the public to view. This year’s theme will be “Coverlet Inspired Quilts” which aims to capture some of the private collections throughout the Susquehanna Valley. “The 2010 challenge is to translate a coverlet design into a quilt,” according to the Muncy Historical Society. “Many of the quilts that will be in the show have been quilted by the Messiah Quilters,” announced Deb Steransky, a retired teacher from Benton who lives in Wolf Township. The group will be demonstrating hand quilting techniques and workmanship to the public during the event.

The Messiah Quilters as they call themselves are dedicated masters at the art of quilting. “We do everything by hand,” said Frances Spring, one of the main organizers and a retired social studies teacher from the East Lycoming School District. “Most of our quilts are tops that people bring to us to put together by hand with the backing,” she added. They charge a fee and we put the money back into the Clarkstown Lutheran Church where they gather every Monday night and Wednesday morning.

They started in 1987 when Roseslla Warrick whose husband was pastor at the time, and along with Spring, they would meet to quilt. And so for the past 23 years, even though Warrick has moved from the area, the women continue to meet and share their time and comradeship to put together quilts. “We don’t get into piecing much,” they said. “We just like to quilt.” They roll their quilts on a hand made quilter’s rack and all ten pairs of hands assemble the three layers by hand stitching them into unique designs that are pre-marked by Spring on the quilt front.

“We have made donations to the Food Bank, the Son Light House, the Historical Society, and the Hughesville Library from some of the money we have earned,” said Spring.

“Some of us call this our mental health day,” said Janet Confer from Muncy. “We bring our lunch and come here and relax for three hours,” she added. “The church has some great space here to allow us to work,” Both Confer and Spring are sisters and also charter members of the Susquehanna Valley Quilters Guild.

The group also completed a queen sized “Scrappy Nine Patch Quilt” that they will be raffling off for a charity auction to benefit the St. Mark Lutheran Parish on November 6. The quilt will also be on display at the quilt show and raffle tickets available for a chance to win up to five prizes including a quilt rack and quilted pillows. They are hoping to sell 1,000 tickets before the drawing which will take place at 8 p.m. at the Clarkstown Fire Hall.

Other members of the Clarkstown Messiah Quilters are Hazel Klock from Watsontown, Jean Cunningham, Muncy, Patti Fairchild, Muncy, Iva McCoy from Moreland Township – who works with the group when Frances goes to Florida in the winter – Joan Fenimore from Benton, Deb Steranski, Ruth Wallis from Muncy and Barbara Schwenk from Clarkstown. Both Wallis and Schwenk said that they always had the desire to quilt but never had the time. Now that they are retired, the women agreed they are “hooked” and meeting each week at the church gives them friendship and time to create something that will outlive all of them.

The deadline for all quilt entries in the annual quilt show with the Muncy Historical Society will be Wednesday, July 14 at noon.

If you go

What: Coverlet Inspired Quilts

Where: Muncy High School

When: July 16, 5:30 – 9 p.m. , July 17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., July 18, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.