Wallets made by quilter Mona Smith, who will be featured at the Kootenay Quilters’ Guild’s upcoming show in Nelson. Photo: Submitted

Wallets made by quilter Mona Smith, who will be featured at the Kootenay Quilters’ Guild’s upcoming show in Nelson. Photo: Submitted

Quilt show coming to Nelson

Keep Calm and Quilt On runs Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the Prestige Lakeside Resort

Back in 2006, Mona Smith went with a friend to a fabric party and workshop in McBride, saying “I’m not going to quilt, I’m not going to quilt.” She left with two completed projects, and has never looked back. Now she is a moving force in the Kootenay Quilters’ Guild, bringing in new ideas and materials, and producing creative, colourful projects with astonishing regularity.

Mona’s favourite projects seem to be bags and wallets, but she also makes bed quilts and wallhangings. Because she likes to see a project from start to finish, and large pieces are so big and unwieldy, most of her quilts are lap and baby-sized. For the upcoming quilt show Keep Calm and Quilt On at the Prestige Lakeside Resort on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, she is working on a “Colour My World Quilt,” a round setting of houses and buildings, with four well-known skyscrapers as compass points.

Mona introduced the guild to cork fabric, which can be used for bags, wallets, key fobs, and all kinds of projects. She loves using it. The cork, from Portugal, sews beautifully, comes in lots of rich colours, and produces a velvety soft finished product. It is also a natural, sustainable, eco-friendly product.

At the last Nelson quilt show, Marna Edey from Heritage Sew, came with embroidery machines. “I’m not going to embroider, I’m not going to embroider” said Mona. Well, you know what happened. Mona now has two embroidery machines, “McDreamy” and “McSteamy” (a 10-needle machine), and she adventures with them at every opportunity. Napkins, towels, T-shirts, wallets, purses – everything can be embroidered, as long as you can hold it still and fit it under the machine!

Why do people quilt? It gives one the pleasure of making things. Some people say “I’m not creative enough”, but really, there are loads of patterns out there one can use, says Mona. Once you add in choices about fabrics and colours, techniques, and finishing, the creativity sneaks up on you! There’s no such thing as the “right way” to make a project. And it’s not as hard as it looks – it’s all in the mindset, and a willingness to try new things without judgement. Furthermore, one can start relatively inexpensively, with a used basic machine “that sews forwards and backwards”, and recycled, scrap fabrics. Several guild members love to “upcycle” fabrics into interesting new projects.

There is also the camaraderie of the guild, including encouragement, learning new techniques, and laughs shared with friends. Mona was intimidated by her first “word of the month” quilt, but found, once the finished pieces were unveiled, how varied all the pieces were. There’s no need to measure oneself against others, just a great opportunity to enjoy different approaches, interpretations and techniques.

Why come to the quilt show? The guild members produce so many beautiful quilts in so many styles and colours. As well, it’s an opportunity to celebrate hand-crafting skills, in a world of mass-production and consumerism.

The Kootenay Quilters’ show Keep Calm and Quilt On is at the Prestige Lakeside Resort, 701 Lakeside Dr., in Nelson on Sept. 30 (12-6 p.m.) and Oct. 1 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Admission is $5.