CPQG History

The Centre Pieces Quilt Guild is an organization to promote a full appreciation of quilts and quilting through sharing, teaching, and fellowship.  

A little Centre Pieces History....
On April 20, 1983, Cindy Houlch, Cindy McNab, Jody Crust, Dorothy Milhelic, Jean Smith and Gloria Braun met for the purpose of forming a National Quilting Association Chapter in the Central Pennsylvania area. Violet MacMillan (another of the founding members) was unable to attend. Gloria Braun suggested the name Centre Pieces and all others agreed. February 20, 1984, a formal petition was made to National Quilting Association (NQA) to form a chapter to be known as Centre Pieces and Chapter #238 was created.
In 1988, the Guild held a "Logo Contest" and member Pat Hock's design won. Our logo has remained the same to this date.
In 2001, the Guild established the Renaissance Member Award. This award is a lifetime membership to the Guild to honor a member that through a number of years has served the Guild in many ways. Someone who encourages the passion for quilting and helps to foster goodwill between the quilting community and community at large. Violet MacMillan, one of our founding members, was the first recipient of the award. Jean Smith, Betty Knouse, Gloria Braun, Nancy Silverman, Diann Dunham, Louise Fox, Claire Amick, Becky Shirer, and Bobbie Muscarella have been awarded the Renaissance Award since then. Sadly, Violet and Gloria have passed away and are missed dearly.
From that initial group of quilting friends, the Guild now boasts a membership of almost 100.
The following history bits were preserved by our Historian, Becky Shirer.

Centre Pieces Celebrates Beginning 1983

In September, 1983, as a novice quilter, I was excited to spot a blurb in the Centre Daily Times about a new quilt group forming in the community, inspired by a small core group of women with big ideas, and inviting all interested to attend.  At that initial gathering, attendees discussed their interests and goals for the group, officers were chosen, and Centre Pieces was off and running.  Within the first year, the guild established interest groups, demonstrated quilting skills at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and Ag Progress Days, planned a bus trip to G Street Fabrics, made a pot luck picnic — we’ve always loved to eat — had grown to 48 members, and formally became a chapter of the National Quilting Association.  We’ve since had a long, rich history fulfilling our goals of promoting the art of quilting among our members and the wider community and offering each other moral support, inspiration, and encouragement to try new things.  Here’s to many more years of friendship, creativity, and finding ever new ways to enjoy the world of quilting!

Airing of the Quilts Sept. 1987

With our long-awaited reunion and airing of the quilts coming up, I was reminded of an earlier such outdoor celebration. In June of 1987, our summer picnic was graciously hosted by then-president Helen Meahl at her home in Boalsburg. Helen’s lawn was the perfect backdrop for lots of beautiful quilts fluttering in the breeze. It will be great to meet with friends again next week and to see the results of their creativity from these last long months hanging on the lines at Orchard Park!

Centre Pieces Celebrates National Quilting Day 1992

It was in 1992 that the National Quilting Association, of which we were a chapter, first observed National Quilting Day, and it has since been celebrated all over the world on the third Saturday in March.  Here is an excerpt from an article by Sue Roy in the Fall 2000 edition of NQA’s Quilting Quarterly:

Centre Pieces (PA#238) of State College, Pennsylvania, celebrated NQD with all-day demonstrations and a quilt exhibit.  Marge Reeder was the coordinator for this year’s event.  This has been a yearly event for the past five years, held in the Nittany Mall.  The merchants are happy to have the quilters display their quilts.   They plan to continue this event for many years to come.  They did have several visitors at their next meeting as a result.

The photo shows Claire Amick demonstrating paper piecing technique at Centre Pieces’ National Quilting Day display at the Nittany Mall in 1999.

Centre Pieces Turns 30
Over the years, we have occasionally marked significant milestones in the history of our guild.  On September 9, 2012, we kicked off the new guild year with a birthday party!  It was a fun celebration of our 30-year history which was brought back to life through reminiscences of past presidents, scrapbooks, and old newsletters.  Hilary Kleckner baked a lovely cake.  The officers (and the cake) were bedecked in pearls for the 30th anniversary, Carrie Fala far and away the most pearly!  We’re coming up on our 40th before too long.  Rubies!

Learning From Each Other

According to our mission statement, “The Centre Pieces Quilt Guild is an organization to promote a full appreciation of quilts and quilting through sharing, teaching, and fellowship.” We have practiced this intention in a variety of ways, from inviting quilters of some renown to inspire our imaginations at guild meetings, to offering our own members’ expertise through demonstrations of our art and craft at community events such as Ag Progress Days, National Quilting Day at the Nittany Mall, exhibitions on campus, and at local bookstores. Round Robins, however, have been some of the most popular programs scheduled for monthly guild meetings, and often at weekly bees and interest groups there has been informal sharing of skills. Looking through the guild’s scrapbooks, I noticed that 2004 and 2005 were particularly rich years for learning from each other. Nancy Silverman shared stories about what she has learned from her quilts and also talked about dyeing fabric.

Kim Davis posed the questions “What if…?” and “Why not…?” to help us overcome our creative blocks. Barbara Lenox presented programs on using large-scale prints and using plaids in quilts. We learned various methods of printing on fabric from Fran MacEachren, Mary Lou Pepe, and Susan DeMetrick as well as a variety of ways to add edgings and embellishments to our quilts from Louise Fox, Tina Aumiller, and Susan DeMetrick. These are just a sampling of the talents our members possess and are happy to share, fulfilling our mission and having a great time doing so!

The photo was taken in July, 2004, at LaVonne Weaver’s farm, where the Material Girls group was learning how to dye fabric using shaving cream. Pictured are Mona Hill, Polly Miller, Sally Black Wood, Rietta Henderson, Claire Amick, and Suzy Alexander.

Quilters are curious people. That is, they are inquisitive and always looking for a new challenge, besides sometimes being curious in other ways. And when they do learn new things, they willingly and generously share their new skills with their fellow quilters, who, in turn, are eager to learn from them. Sometimes, we begin to feel like we’ve learned all there is to know about quilting and that there is nowhere new to go, or we wonder who will keep this art alive when we’ve all gone to the Big Bee in the Sky. Centre Pieces has occasionally stirred some interest in younger people, in hopes of bringing an appreciation of quilting to a new generation. But our efforts have not really had much effect until recently. 
This year, for the first time, the guild is offering a new membership category aimed at youthful quilters from 4th grade through high school seniors. And we are so pleased to welcome our first new Youth members, Sue Younkin’s very creative granddaughters, Evie and Josie, who jumped right in with show-and-tell and funny stories to share. We will enjoy getting to know them and, I’m sure, will be inspired by the fresh perspective they bring to the guild and to the future of our craft!  
Our newest members are young

We’re Back! 

It may seem that there is a gap in the guild’s history over the past year or so, as though we’ve experienced a blackout, but the shades are beginning to roll up and let in some light. Gradually we are coming, perhaps not quite full circle — maybe following more of a Drunkard’s Path — back to full activity. In our dormancy during COVID, we may have appeared quiet, but there was actually a lot going on. We sewed hundreds of masks for a nursing home and for friends and family. We kept up with and encouraged each other through emails. We finally took the plunge and learned how to Zoom so that we could finally see each other. We visited virtual quilt shows and even put together a drive-by birthday parade. And we used the time to create lots of quilts. A few met outside in spite of the spring chill, some inside at the mall, and over the summer we finally all got together at Orchard Park to share our accomplishments during the “blackout.”

Thank you to the ones who missed us enough to make sure we didn’t just fade away, especially new officers Leslie Demmert and Becky Trunzo, Fran Hrenko and Karen Powers, Jane Brown, Carrie Fala, Jill Aller and Lynn Springer. Lots of others are supporting their efforts, too. They took the initiative to revive the guild and to volunteer to lead us back to vibrancy.

Even with some lingering limitations while the virus is still out there, the guild has been infused with a renewed feeling of excitement and inspiration. It’s wonderful to be back.

We're Back!
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