Quilters to host summer camp

The Stitchin’ Bs quilting group hold a group production. Clockwise, starting at 8 o’clock (on the ground on the left): Pam Savard, Donna Sloan, Liz Black, Cindy Bisson, Terry McGuire, Janet Bailey, Holly Mineau, Julie McKim, and Marley McKim/ The quilt is from a previous year’s show and camp. (Photo provided — Julie McKim)

SARANAC LAKE — The Stitchin’ Bs, a quilters group based in Tupper Lake, in collusion with Affordable Quilting shop, will host a Mountain Madness Quilt Camp at the former Holy Ghost Academy in Tupper Lake from Friday July 26 to Sunday July 28.

“We have two classes a day plus one open sew day,” said Cindy Bisson, one of the members of the Stitchin’ Bs. Bisson said they were lucky to get a nationally known designer, Lynn Wheatley, to come teach this year.

All levels of quilters, hobbyists, artisans, and anyone wanting to learn to quilt are welcome to participate in the camp. Although the camp usually fills up before it starts, Bisson said there were still openings as this article went to print.

Bisson said the group started small.

“I always said, when I retire I’m going to start quilting. I retired, and Renee’s shop (Affordable Quilting) opened right after I retired. It was perfect for me.” A small group of quilters began to gather regularly at the shop, mostly to chase away cabin fever over the long winters. It grew from there, and now the Stitchin B’s have a half-dozen year-round members, and more than twice as many when summer comes.

“It grows to twenty-something,” said Bisson. “But that’s still a small group to pull off the quilt camp.”

Julie McKim recently joined the group. Far from being retired, she’s new to the area and home with a new baby. She finds the social aspect of the group particularly welcome, and her daughter, Marley, has been informally adopted by all the quilters. “We’re trying to teach her by osmosis,” she said.

“One of the neat things about our group is the road trips,” she said.

“Quilting has become so popular that there’s almost a quilt shop in every town,” said Bisson.

McKim said spending time with women older than herself has been fun. “Everybody’s so interesting. Meeting these ladies has been fantastic. I can’t believe my good luck, and it’s all because my husband gave me a sewing machine.”

The quilting process has changed with new technology, especially a device called a long-arm quilting machine. As the person working on the quilt sews the pieces together, the quilt becomes bigger and bulkier and less able to fit under the arm of a standard sewing machine. In the old days, women would sit around a quilting frame together. They could reach over and under the quilt to sew the layers of fabric and batting (stuffing) together.

“That’s the hard part when you’re quilting it yourself,” said Bisson. Nowadays, quilters can send the almost-complete quilt to a shop with a long-arm machine. Since the machines can cost from $4,000 to $10,000, it’s cheaper to send a quilt away for the final touches than invest in a machine yourself.

“There are so many steps, and every step is fun,” said McKim. “It’s a process.”

The women also enjoy sharing the quilts, because most quilts are given away. Friends and relatives get quilts and cherish the hand-made, unique crafts. “It’s a long process and a lot of love went into it,” said Bisson. “It deserves to be treated well.”

For information on the quilt camp, call 518-651-1891.