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Quilt to celebrate Mount Airy's centennial is a stitch for time


It's Mount Airy's centennial year, and preparations for the town's March celebration of the event are shifting into high gear.

Sure to be one of the highlights of the March 26 kickoff banquet is the unveiling of the town's centennial quilt.

In the making for more than a year, the quilt shows off the handiwork of Mount Airy's quilters and seamstresses.

The 8 1/2 -by-6-foot quilt features scenes of 26 town landmarks, including the old railroad station, Calvary United Methodist Church and famous local houses.

Twenty-two Mount Airy women have worked on the quilt, each making a square or block that features a well-known town building. Most of the preliminary work on the project is finished, and it's almost time to begin the actual quilting, said Judy Elwood, who is coordinating the making of the quilt.

"It will be like an old-fashioned quilting bee getting it done," said Ms. Elwood, who has been quilting for 13 years.

"A lot of the people that worked on the quilt have lived here a long time. It's been kind of interesting to get them together and share experiences."

The centennial quilt idea was introduced at a meeting of the town's centennial committee, and a core group of six volunteers has worked on it for more than a year. In addition to Ms. Elwood, the volunteers are Eileen Brown, Lorraine Carter, Gene Gartrell, Sandee Parrish and Dottie Cunningham.

The first step was to select the landmarks to be depicted in the quilt.

"We picked ones that were interesting, old or architecturally significant," Ms. Elwood said.

Next, the buildings were photographed and drawn to make patterns for the applique blocks.

The core group of quilters spent many hours in Ms. Carter's basement, sorting through fabrics for the quilt blocks.

"It was unbelieveable the pieces of fabric she has," Ms. Gartrell said. "If you needed something for bushes, we'd just get stacks and stacks of green."

Once the fabrics were chosen, the group put together 24 applique kits for women who had volunteered to work on the quilt blocks.

Some of the volunteers were expert seamstresses; some were novices.

Helen Simpson, 76, a lifetime resident of Mount Airy, made the block of the Calvary United Methodist Church.

"I was christened in that church the year it was dedicated, 1917, so I was taken there as a 6-week-old baby," Ms. Simpson said.

"I found it very rewarding to see something like this come together," she said of the quilt.

"They've really done an absolutely remarkable job," Ms. Elwood said of the volunteers. "This sort of work is an expert level of applique technique."

Many volunteers who worked on the blocks added their own touches, such as embroidery or flowered material to depict a garden.

"Each square is like a little masterpiece," said Ms. Gartrell. "Each person put a lot of love into each little block."

Ms. Elwood has been working for the past few weeks sewing the 24 completed blocks of the quilt together.

Now, she'll put the attached blocks on the quilting frame at her home. She hopes to start quilting next week.

Ms. Elwood said she plans to have about three quilting sessions a week to finish the quilt before the March 26 centennial banquet.

After the banquet, the quilt will hang in the town hall.

"I think the people of the town will enjoy it," Ms. Elwood said.

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