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All sewn up

Quilters put together colorful creations for a local show.

Published February 9, 2007


Marilyn Hood discovered quilting a decade ago after retiring from her longtime job as a kindergarten teacher.

An accomplished seamstress who sewed wedding dresses for her daughters, Hood watched her mother and grandmother quilt during her childhood in the South.

"They used very traditional patterns and made very utilitarian quilts - basically to keep the beds warm," recalls Hood, 68.

She still owns a couple of family heirloom quilts, including one stitched with a fan-shaped pattern and fashioned from 1930s fabrics.

But when Hood began making her own quilts, hers looked nothing like the bed-warmers of old.

Elegant, artsy and colorful, her creations have earned high honors at national and local quilt shows. Her most recent, adapted from one of her original paintings, depicts an Old Paris street scene, complete with cobblestone streets, historic buildings, blooming flowers and a French pastry shop.

It's among hundreds of local quilts on display at the Quilters' Workshop of Tampa Bay on Feb. 16 and 17.

The 17th annual show will feature a vendor's mall of 20 shops, a tea room, quilting demonstrations, appraisals, book signings and a Quilters' Workshop Boutique offering hand-made gifts by local quilters.

The show, which will be judged by a National Quilting Association certified judge, is considered top-drawer in the world of quilting.

Hood, who belongs to three quilting guilds including the Quilters' Workshop of Tampa Bay and two quilting circles, describes her quilting mania as "insatiable." Quilting circles typically involve cozy at-home gatherings of women who bring their own individual handwork for an evening of sewing, conversation and dessert.

Hood said she's made more friends than she's ever had in her life thanks to her involvement in a craft that's become big business. According to industry statistics, quilters spend an average of $2,000 to $3,000 a year on material and supplies.

"When you start - you just can't stop," she said, adding that she hasn't bought fabric in a while because she has enough for now to make at least 20 more quilts.

She isn't alone.

According to the most recent Quilting in America survey, there are 21.3-million active quilters in the United States - up from 15- million in 1997.

"It's just growing and growing - a wonderful creative outlet," said quilter Linda Jones, 57, a paralegal from Temple Terrace who has been quilting for 16 years. "I loved the creative process - it just clicked with me."

Her quilts in the show include a king-size hand appliqud beauty in 20 bright-colored 18-inch blocks framed by colorful sashings.

She also made a quilt for her 2-year-old granddaughter called G Is for Granddaughter, complete with lift-up letters and corresponding pictures.

Betty Holdroyd, another member of the Quilters' Workshop of Tampa Bay, whose work is known for its colorful and whimsical quality as well as its original use of fabric, started quilting in the late 1990s when her children reached high school age. Like Hood, she was already nimble with a needle and an accomplished cross-stitcher.

"I had always wanted to quilt, but I was just busy," said Holdroyd, who calls herself a "modern-day quilter."

"I like to learn different techniques, and then I'm ready to move on to the next," she said. She entered four quilts in the show, including one in a mosaic style. One entry, a "Challenge Quilt," draws together pieces of fabric from other quilters, whom Holdroyd asked to tell their stories using teacup shapes.

"Some made them in a style that was Japanese, others had more of a novelty style. Others were just really artistic," she explains.

Among the show's big draws is the "Opportunity Quilt," which will be raffled off at $1 a ticket. Christened Garden of Daydreams, it blooms with poetic color and design: willowy yellow and red flowers sprout in a garden stitched in rich, rainbow colors.

It was designed by Tammy Zinkosky, who based it on a pattern called Celestial Dream by Susan Powell. It was stitched by members of the Quilter's Workshop of Tampa Bay and machine-quilted by Dea Crandall.

The show will also include its traditional live auction of small quilts made by guild members, with proceeds to benefit the Salvation Army Worship Center.

Certified quilt appraiser, historian and well-known Florida quilter Teddy Pruett will appraise quilts brought in by the public at the event

For more information, go to

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at


[Last modified February 8, 2007, 10:32:21]

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