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Scarborough Library exhibits quilts made by a local family

ISSUED: 15 January 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Work done by a Smithsburg, Maryland, family that has taken the art of quilting to a whole new level is on display through March 31 in the Shepherd University Scarborough Library Reading Room.

Most of the quilts and quilt pieces were made by members of Rose Minnick’s family. She is the oldest of seven children, five of whom quilt. Their mother, Mildred Rohrer, who at one time worked as a seamstress in the Hagerstown, Maryland, dress factories, is also a quilter. Rohrer’s hand-sewn work is part of the exhibit, which displays quilts made by eight family members, about half of them men.

Rose, who is a retired school teacher currently living in Hagerstown, said she caught the quilting bug about 15 years ago, and in the past 10 years she’s pursued the hobby more seriously.

“At times work could be stressful,” Rose said. “Quilting was a place I could go to escape, be quiet, and use my hands.”

Now that she’s retired, Rose continues to enjoy the focused calm and relaxation that making a quilt can bring.

“It’s kind of habit forming,” she said. “You use your brain to measure. You’ve got to pay attention when you’re quilting because it’s a step-by-step process, and if you don’t follow those steps you end up with a disaster sometimes.”

Pieces in the exhibit made by Rose include some smaller, decorative holiday quilts, and two full-size quilts, including a rag quilt and a star pattern quilt. Rose said the rag quilt is unusual because the seams are on the outside which allows them to fray.

Some of the pieces on display reflect the long history of quilt making. There’s a reproduction Civil War soldier’s cot quilt that looks like those issued to Union soldiers by the U.S. Sanitary Commission. And there’s a log cabin-patterned quilt bordered by floral fabric, which is almost always found in older quilts.

In contrast, some of the quilts on display offer a decidedly modern and masculine twist on the craft. A partially completed trout quilt was pieced together by Rose’s brother, Dennis Minnick, the newest member of the family to take up the hobby. Dennis, who likes to fish, made the quilt using a computer program called machine appliqué.

“It outlines a shape, then you take the fabric you like and put it on top of the outline, push a button, and the machine sews the fabric down,” Rose said. “Then you trim the excess fabric and the machine does the outline stitches. So you’re not doing a lot but pushing some buttons, but it’s a nice effect.”

Rose said all the pieces on display are sewn by machine except the one her mother made, which is completely hand quilted.

“You can definitely tell the difference,” Rose said. “Just by glancing at them it’s easy to tell the difference.”

Whether they’re made by hand or with the help of machines, the quilts are something members of her family will continue to enjoy for years to come.

“We do it for entertainment and for the love of giving something to someone we know,” she said. “It’s just a fun family thing that we do together.”

Listen to Rose Minnick’s interview HERE.

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