Quilting is a family tradition

Erin Smith Staff writer

January 16, 2014

WHITE OAK — On a Sunday afternoon, Bladenboro Quilter Phyllis Lewis was busy laying out quilt squares on an “idea wall” for her Downton Abbey quilt design that she is lovingly and tenderly piecing together.

The quilt design is based on the PBS show of the same title. According to Lewis, each week a new quilt block which represents a part of the story of Downton Abbey is revealed to those participating in the quilt-along. Eventually the final product will be unveiled to those who have diligently kept up with it.

Quilting is a favorite pastime for Lewis.

“My mom and sisters all are quilters. Mom was involved in hand-quilting and I was just around it and picked it up and enjoyed it and hand quilted for my family,” said Lewis.

She added that, all totaled, she has been quilting for about 50 years. She said she has also taken classes at Loving Stitches in Fayetteville as well as learning various techniques and steps on her own. Lewis added that Loving Stitches has classes for beginners to experts.

Don’t try to convince Lewis that quilting is a dying or lost art.

“There are actually more quilters now than in 2007,” said Lewis. “Many people pick up on quilting by reading and learning on their own.”

She said quilting became even more enjoyable for folks with the advent of such things as rotary cutting and long-arm sewing machines that made piecing, sewing and quilting the quilt easier.

Lewis not only makes quilts for her family, she also creates quilts for other folks and in some cases will complete quilts started by others.

“I’m currently quilting two quilts for a lady in Tabor City,” said Lewis. She also recently completed a set of quilts for Christmas gifts for another.

When asked where her favorite thing about quilting is, Lewis thought a moment before replying.

“The fabric. I am such a hoarder of fabric. There is always a reason to buy more fabric,” said Lewis.

Various fabrics tend to be the start of an inspiration for project, according to Lewis.

“You start with an inspiration fabric,” said Lewis. She added that once you have settled on your inspiration fabric, then you will find various within the pattern of that fabric that you can accent with other fabrics and patterns. for example, she held up a quilt with a beach scene.

“I pulled out the blue by using a blue stripe,” said Lewis pointing to a blue-striped fabric that formed a part of the border.

She also said that she has quilt tops in places like Goodwill.

“I saw a box one time in Goodwill and it was from Germany. Someone had started a quilt top and I took it and finished it,” said Lewis.

She added she had no idea how to contact the individual who started the quilt so they could see the end results of their work.

Lewis, who is the wife of Seth Lewis, enjoys volunteering her time and expertise at Harmony Hall Plantation. Lewis is available on the second Sunday of each month at Harmony Hall to offer advice and expertise in quilting to folks who want to learn or need to know how to care for their quilts.