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 aproaching 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 potluck 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!

National Quilting Day 1986

Besides Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, International Women’s Day, and Spring(!), March also brings National Quilting Day. The holiday was created in 1991 by the National Quilting Association and has since spread worldwide to recognize quilters and a craft that can be traced back thousands of years. Centre Pieces, which began as a chapter of NQA, has celebrated in the past with exhibitions and demonstrations of quilting in the local area. We always attracted a friendly crowd of longtime as well as newly curious quilters. On a more personal level, it might be a good occasion to remember how each of us became interested in quilting and eventually in seeking out a guild to support our interest. A recent guild meeting, in which we shared ideas from our sewing spaces, indirectly got me thinking of that. The program motivated me to organize my own sewing space and in doing so I uncovered some long-buried projects, fabrics, and supplies inherited from my sister-in-law Marie. She was accomplished in many needle arts, owned a fabric and yarn shop, worked for Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, and taught me to quilt. I was hooked, and so was excited in 1983 to join a newly forming guild, Centre Pieces. A few years later, Marie came to visit, and while she was here she presented a workshop on designing pieced animal patterns to the guild. How were you inspired to become a quilter and to join the company of other creative people? This year National Quilting Day is on March 19th. For some more background on quilting and suggestions for celebrating the holiday, you might enjoy this website. Can you identify these CPQG members from 1986?

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!

1991 Up to the Challenge 

Once in a while it’s good to think outside the box or get out of our comfort zone. So, for fun, the guild has occasionally proposed a challenge to keep us on our toes or to take us where we may not have gone before.

One of our first challenges was a component of the guild’s 1991 exhibit at the Hetzel Union Building on campus. Entries with a Basket theme were invited; wall hangings or other small items were required to include at least 1/2 yard of a particular fabric. As you can see in the photo, quite a variety of imaginative works were submitted.

Since then, other challenges have helped us expand our creativity by encouraging us to try new techniques or to use colors that we wouldn’t usually work with. Our challenge in 1997 was to use only Black and White and One Other Color. The results were judged and later exhibited in the gallery space at Foxdale. Sometimes challenges imposed size limitations or required the use of specific fabrics; other times there were very few rules at all.

This year, Barbara Zeger has been leading a sew-along challenge based on the Dresden Plate pattern. She described a technique for making an unusual version of the block, which would become the focal point of our creations, and offered tips on adding several different optional borders. As she said, “Anything goes!” We look forward to seeing these brilliant works revealed at the September evening guild meeting. And as this challenge reveal marks the culmination of a particularly rewarding guild year, stay tuned for details of a new challenge that will kick off our celebration of 40 years as a guild!

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.

Susan Ball Faeder Exhibit: Blue   

Soon it will be cherry blossom time, which reminds me of Japan, which reminds me of a presentation to the guild in 2013 by Susan Ball Faeder about Japanese textiles. She also led a Sashiko workshop to teach us the technique for that unique embroidery stitch. Susan has a solo show going on now through April 30 at Milton Art Bank in Milton, PA. Here is a link to information about her exhibit. If you can’t get there in person, you can take a virtual walk-through of her show from here. https://www.miltonartbank.com


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!
Membership Application

Picnic Time!

     Whenever we've gathered for the Centre Pieces June Picnic, it has always been a day to celebrate completing the guild year. In past years, some of us not still employed got a head start by spending the afternoon sewing before dinner festivities began. Then others arrived bearing show-and-tell and special dishes to add to the groaning board that could rival a wedding feast. The picnic has been held in various places, from Helen Meahl's lawn with quilts flapping from clotheslines, to Marrara's Mountain Lodge with show-and-tell in the amphitheater (before the bears come out!), to the Lions Club in Pine Grove Mills, to a pavilion in Orchard Park (socially distanced and minus the feast). 
    Wherever we have met, we have recognized the service of the outgoing officers and have elected and welcomed the incoming ones. We've awarded special recognition, with the Renaissance Award and the President's Award, to a member or two who have gone above and beyond in service to the guild. The picnic is also the time to update our membership information and pay our dues toward the coming year. The photo shows three enthusiastic quilters with membership forms and dues checks ready to do just that: Sue Santalucia, Nancy Silverman, and Bobbie Muscarella at Marrara’s in 2005. Come join us at Tudek Park for this year's picnic, June 14, 5-8 pm. It will be easier than ever with a catered supper. More room in your arms for all the show-and-tell you are bringing!  

Antoinette Holl

    With the recent passing of beloved local quilting teacher Antoinette Holl, it seems fitting to remember her here. Although she was never a member of Centre Pieces, there has always been a fondness that has connected us. Many of us in the guild have had the pleasure of learning from Antoinette through the classes that she taught from her home for many years. She imparted to her students a respect for good craftsmanship and a love of creativity, giving us confidence in both technical skills and designing, and providing the foundation for us to become accomplished quilters ourselves. Her classes surely led many to look for a place like Centre Pieces to share their interests and skills and to and let them grow. Antoinette was gentle in her guidance. As one quilter remembers, “One time when I sewed my pieces together wrong she looked at it and kindly said ‘how interesting!’” She was genuinely interested in following her students’ progress and accomplishments and in keeping a friendly connection with them. In 2006, after Antoinette had retired from active teaching, a gathering of her students was organized as a surprise to honor her, and everyone brought something for show-and-tell that they felt represented her influence on their work. So many were interested in attending that
a bigger hall was reserved for the occasion! Antoinette will be remembered with affection and admiration. The photo shows Antoinette with her friend and frequent collaborator Sylvia Apple when they gave a presentation to the guild at a meeting in Fall 1996.

Show Off!

    Having recently spent a few days getting an eyeful of all kinds of art, including a variety of fiber arts, at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and the People’s Choice Festival, I was reminded of the display-worthy artwork that our own quilters produce year round. We have occasionally put our energy into organizing a large show that presents the talents of the whole guild to the community. Sometimes we have less formally lent our work to show in regional community events like the Aaronsburg Dutch Fall Festival or Memorial Day festivities in Boalsburg and in local spaces like Pattee Library and Mt. Nittany Medical Center. Once we gathered our quilts to contribute to a memorial service for one of our
members. Individually, too, some of us have entered quilts in various exhibits, from national juried shows like National Quilting Association (NQA) or American Quilter's Society (AQS) to the Grange Fair, and have often been recognized with ribbons! Many Centre Pieces quilters have won ribbons in various quilt categories at the fair, including current members Sally Ripka, Peggy Reed, and Marge
Reeder. Take every opportunity you can to enjoy a display of other artists’ work, but also consider participating sometime in an exhibit which will recognize your own creativity. We all get inspiration and happiness from chatting and sharing ideas with each other. It’s an important part of appreciating and learning from each other, no matter the level of expertise. In the photo, Jean Smith points to her contribution in a group quilt at the 1994 NQA Show in Charleston, WV.

Quilt Camp

    Fall has always seemed like the perfect time of year for camping. As temperatures cool a little and summer busyness winds down, it’s great to find some serenity in the woods.  Back in 1993, Centre Piecers were dreaming of such an escape, imagining “a weekend with no kids, no husband, no chores, no telephone, ONLY quilting…” The first quilt camp was actually in the spring of that year, at Mountain Acres Lodge in Spring Mills, PA. Cyndie Marrara made arrangements for us to use the lodge, and it quickly became a spring and fall tradition. Campers sewed and laughed and cooked and learned new tricks, often well into the night and then bright and early again in the morning. We took long walks to work out the kinks. At the first retreat, there was room for only five sewing machines, so more work was done by hand, often at the windows or on the porch for more light. Sounds like the “old days!”  After some years, quilt camp was no longer a guild-sponsored event, but included many guild members as well as friends from other guilds. We branched out and took our retreat to Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, PA, where we had the luxury of having our meals served by camp staff. Field trips to fabric stores in the valley were an option, and often someone held a spontaneous mini-workshop for those interested in learning a new technique.
    It’s great to get away and to be able to sew to your heart’s content among friends. This fall there are a
couple of local retreats: an overnight camp at Hartman Center Campground in Milroy, which has evolved from the original Mt. Acres/Blue Diamond camp, and a daytime QB Intown Retreat at the Super 8 in State College. More information about these can be found in the September newsletter. Both are lots of fun!

Go, Blue and White! 

Blue work raffle quilt in the Autumn Splendor quilt show at South Hills School of Business and Technology, October 2005.

    Fall leaves and football games provide traditional colors of the season. Around here, that means brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows and blue and white! In October of 2005, these colors all came together in a celebration of quilts for Centre Pieces’ Autumn Splendor quilt show. Through the efforts of many people over many months, a spectacular show was produced featuring over 200 quilts in judged categories as well as special displays, a boutique of handmade and quilt-related items, vendors, demonstrations, a children’s learning area, and a special raffle quilt. The raffle quilt project, a Blue & White Centre County Splendor Blue Work Quilt, was spearheaded by Sharleen Nichols, who organized and assembled blocks designed by many of the guild’s members (and a couple of their husbands!). Each of the blocks represented a favorite landmark or symbol of the county embroidered in blue thread on a white background and bordered by blue squares. Kits of the blue work designs were offered for sale at the boutique.
    The current display of leaves surrounding us and the recent Homecoming festivities, when alumni return to their favorite haunts from college days, reminded me of that lovely quilt. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding its current whereabouts, but recent clues suggest that both this quilt and the quilt the guild made to celebrate the State College bicentennial are hanging in the municipal building
in downtown State College. Bobbie Muscarella has a copy of the pattern if anyone would like one.

Warmth and Flair

    Once upon a time, quilted garments were the original Under Armour, a layer worn under the hard metal plates to keep them from rubbing and pinching. And in some climates, quilted layers were great for keeping warm. We do still wear quilted clothing for warmth, but for the most part styles have become more decorative than defensive and, on the fashion runways, more fantastic than practical.
    Although we are celebrating a big anniversary this year, we don’t go back quite as far as quilted armor, but in our guild history there has always been an interest in decorative and embellished garments. One of the earliest interest groups that formed within the guild was a Quilted Clothing group. They tackled designing jackets, sometimes incorporating Seminole piecing or drafting blocks in
miniature for a more wearable scale. A few Centre Piecers were inspired to create decorative collars to wear to shows or meetings after noticing some attendees wearing similar ones at a quilt show. These collars served as a canvas on which to express their personalities, to display pins collected from the shows, or to try some new technique on a small scale.
    Another group shared in a several-month project based on the book The Me Vest by Kay M. Mackelburg. Each quilter created a list to guide contributions of fabrics from the others, and these collections resulted in unique garments that reflected each member’s interests and accomplishments. Quilters love decorating for the holidays, and one way is to wear their decorations! At our holiday parties we have been dazzled by a variety of colorful garments celebrating the occasion.
Pictured at our December 2002 meeting, Shirley Gilman and Tina Aumiller celebrated in matching vests. If you’re looking for ideas for this year’s 40th Anniversary Challenge, maybe this will give you some inspiration. May it keep you warm just thinking about it!

Historical Quilts Update

The window for holiday shopping was closing fast, but I still had a few tricky gift problems to solve. I wanted to get downtown at least once this season to see the lights and decorations and to get a little more into the spirit of the holidays. Students had already headed home, so it was peaceful in town,
and a bright, chilly day. Perfect. I did solve my stubborn gift problems, for the most part, and had time to wander into the State College Municipal Building. There in the lobby hangs the quilt made by Centre Pieces in 1995 to celebrate the State College centennial. Climbing to the third floor to confirm the whereabouts of the blue and white embroidered quilt made in 2005 that I wrote about in the November newsletter, I found it prominently displayed. Another pleasant surprise revealed itself while I was admiring the blue work quilt in person for the first time in many years. On a nearby wall hung another quilt, pictured here, which was also made to celebrate the State College centennial. I hadn’t seen that one before and was curious about its creator, so I peeked on the back and found the label, which reads: “Designed and constructed by Myron Street Pharo, Summer 1996. Four corner blocks by Violet MacMillan.” Both Micki Pharo and Violet MacMillan were Centre Pieces guild members. Violet was one of our founders and the first recipient of the guild’s Renaissance Award, recognizing her encouragement of the passion for quilting and her service to the guild over many years. Next
time you’re downtown, take a few minutes to stop by the Municipal Building to appreciate these three quilts that connect Centre Pieces to the history of our town and county.

Presidents’ Day

    While we may not get a day off work or a good deal on a mattress to honor our guild presidents, we celebrate them nevertheless and are grateful for their willingness to guide our group for a term or two.
The thought of taking on the Presidency gives most of us pause, and we’ve never had a competitive race for the position, but thankfully, over the course of our 40-year history, 27 have given it a go and found it to be not only possible but rewarding. 28, if we count Dorothy Mihelic, who led the first gathering of quilters interested in forming a local chapter of the National Quilting Association. As that chapter got off the ground, we elected Diane McKinnon as our first official guild president. At the guild’s 30th anniversary party, our past presidents were recognized and they shared reminiscences from their time at the helm.
    Being President turns out to not be as scary as it might first sound because of the support of so many helpful people sharing the tasks and brainstorming ideas. Past presidents have said that one of the best parts was getting to know these people better because they’ve worked together and often become close friends. When Judy Ray and Barbara Zeger decided in 2013 to work together as co-presidents, they started a trend that has continued through several terms since. We’re especially grateful for our current duo, Leslie Demmert and Becky Trunzo, for restoring our enthusiasm for quilting together after time off for a pandemic.
    All of our past presidents are listed in the Green Book. February 20 is President’s Day this year, a good time to tell them thanks for keeping us going for 40 years and counting!

Pictured are Sue Santalucia and Barbara First being honored 
in 2019 for their two-year term as co-presidents.

The Quilt-Time Continuum

There is so much to love about finding a medium that is comfortable to work with and that awakens our imaginations. There is the satisfaction of personal growth, but also a give and take in sharing our inspiration with others. An excitement grows for our chosen craft along with a desire to keep it alive for future generations to add to the richness of its history.  So, partly to increase the size of our guild and bring fresh ideas to our work, and partly to ensure that the craft itself continues, Centre Pieces has taken advantage of opportunities throughout its history to demonstrate quilting to the community. We’ve been to farming events at Walnut Acres, Ag Progress Days, the Centre County Grange Fair, and Maze Craze at Wasson Farm Market. We’ve interacted with festival goers at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and People’s Choice Festival and with shoppers in bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Encore Books and in the Nittany Mall for National Quilting Day. And we’ve introduced quilting skills to children and adults alike in special exhibits at our own quilt shows and at visits to elementary schools in the area.  This winter we added an exciting new opportunity to teach and inspire the next generation of quilters with the Youth Sewing Classes at Schlow Centre Region Library. Thanks to Becky Trunzo, Sue Younkin, Evie Younkin, Josie Younkin, Lillyanna Faimon and their volunteers and helpers for getting some new quilters off on the right foot!

Here is a photo of Jody Crust, Cecelia Macia, and Jeanne Brault demonstrating quilting at the Artists-in-Action booth of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in 1991.

Friendship Quilts

    Nancy Silverman recently gave a wonderful presentation of her tree quilts to the day guild meeting. She pointed out that one of her quilts included the contributions of several other quilting friends from the Block Exchange group. This brought back many fond memories of those women, some of
whom are no longer with us.
    Friendship quilts are made to honor the companionship of a close-knit group of friends, to offer support to a friend or colleague needing comfort, to recognize the service of a fellow quilter to the guild or of a service member to the military, or to commemorate a family event. Often signatures or messages are added to the blocks, making them even more personal.
    The guild’s Block Exchange group offered each member a turn to choose colors or a theme to guide the others in making a block for that member. A wide variety of quilts resulted and each captured the personalities of the contributors as well as the ingenuity of the recipient in putting them all together.
    Another group developed the tradition of bringing back fabrics from their vacations and other travels to share with each member of the group. The travel quilts that grew from these souvenirs became fun memories of those friends and the places they’ve been.
    As we approach the guild’s 40th anniversary, it is fun to remember the friends that have brought us pleasure and have contributed so richly to the sense of camaraderie that we’ve shared in the guild over the years we’ve been together.

Nancy Silverman’s Trees quilt, begun in 1990 with help from friends in the Block Exchange.

Centennial Celebration

    When State College celebrated its centennial in 1996, Centre Pieces was a prominent participant in the festivities. Bobbie Muscarella distributed fabric packets from which guild members created a commemorative quilt comprising nearly 50 blocks representing area landmarks or other familiar
features unique to our area. The Scrap Group helped cut and piece the fabric used to frame the blocks, and then Bobbie hosted a series of quilting bees to complete the quilt.
    The quilt’s first public showing was in August 1995 at Centre Furnace Mansion for the “official kick-off” of the State College Centennial celebration. The quilt was also the centerpiece at the Centennial Garden of Quilts exhibit at the Penn State HUB ballroom in early August 1996.
    Over 250 cards featuring a photo of the quilt were printed and sold. Later that month, at the centennial closing ceremonies in Central Parklet (now Sidney Friedman Park), our quilt was presented to the community from Northwest Savings Bank, one of the sponsors who purchased the quilt and who was also celebrating its centennial year. The quilt was displayed in the bank’s offices for a while, and then later at the 1996 Quilters’ Heritage Celebration in Lancaster. It can currently be seen hanging in the
State College Municipal Building on Allen St.

Quilting and Guild Anniversary Trivia

In honor of our upcoming 40th anniversary, here are a few historical fun facts from quilt history and from Centre Pieces’ beginnings:
  1. Centre Pieces was formed as Chapter #238 of the National Quilting Association. Our first meeting to organize interested quilters was on September 18, 1983, at Zion Lutheran Church in Boalsburg.
  2. With 584 former members and 88 current ones, there have been a total of 672 Centre Pieces members from 1983-2023!
  3. Twenty-seven members have served as President of the guild; twenty-eight, counting Dorothy Mihelic who led that first meeting.
  4. The first Centre Pieces show, “Quilting: a Touch of Old and New,” was held at the Hetzel Union Building Formal Gallery on the Penn State campus, January 18-February 18, 1988.
  5. Red and White, the colors of our ruby anniversary challenge, have always been a popular combination in American quilts. For a little history on Turkey red fabric and how it came to America, see “The (Slightly) Shady History of Red and White Quilts.”  An example of a modern Turkey Red & White Quilt using an historic pattern by Julie Rohleder:
  6. A noteworthy ruby in the quilting world is Ruby Short McKim (1891-1976). Her quilt patterns were published in the Kansas City Star and other newspapers around the country and in magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens. In 1931 she published One Hundred and One Patchwork Patterns, which became an important resource for many quilters and is still available today. https://www.mckimstudios.com/02bio/bio.shtml

A Banner Year

   In 1988, Centre Pieces Quilt Guild celebrated its 5th year as an active and exuberant group that was obviously going to be around for a while. We thought we should have a symbol to identify the guild whenever we were out and about in the community. A contest was proposed, and Pat Hock’s winning design became the iconic logo that we see now on our newsletter, on pins, and on the banner that is displayed wherever we go.  
  The banner with the new logo was completed in 1991 by the many quilters who helped with drafting, choosing fabrics, cutting and assembling, adding lettering, bordering, binding, and quilting: Eileen Thompson Lehner, Ann Morris, Becky Shirer, Pat Spangler, Lynn Carson, Adelaide Kendig,
Ann Carras, Louise Fox, Pat Krall, Jody Crust, Sharleen Nichols, Jeanne Brault, Marcha Drake, Sandi Fagerty, Fran MacEachren, and Bobbie Muscarella. It made its debut at our show at the HUB in May, 1991.

  Since then, the banner has been around the block a few times and has begun to show its age. To celebrate the guild’s 40th anniversary, a small group decided to update the banner, getting together during the Friday gatherings at Blue Course Community Church. They held to the theme of
Pennsylvania, keeping the state’s shape and the yellow star highlighting our central location. Their choice of fabrics throughout the banner reflect the colors of Penn’s Woods. Lenore Clarke, Joyce Dalzell, Leslie Demmert, Karen Powers, and Nancy Silverman were the hands-on designers and sewists. A number of the Friday gathering people and some others, including Jill Wisniewski, Peggy Terry, Peggy Reed, Barb Zeger, Becky Trunzo, Lynn Springer, Becky Shirer, Cindy Rutschky, Fran
Hrenko, and Gail Anderson, added to the discussions and decisions concerning the banner.
  Leading up to the 40th anniversary celebration, the original logo also enjoyed another makeover in the special version designed by Cindy Alley, in ruby red. It has appeared on this year’s newsletters and decorates celebratory t-shirts and tote bags to recognize this milestone.
        We eagerly anticipate the unveiling of the new banner very soon! Looking forward to celebrating with you!

Road Trip!

    Now that frost warnings have disappeared and flowers and weeds are growing like crazy, it feels like time to hit the road for some quilt adventures near and far.  
    Centre Pieces quilters have always relished piling several into a car for a field trip to Anna Buchanan’s or Verna’s, or maybe Peight’s Country Store while in the neighborhood, filling the trunk with everyone’s finds.  Sometimes we’ve gone on more extended shop hops following a map to participating shops that feature special deals, row-by-row designs, or free quilt block patterns. One of my favorite quilts was put together with blocks from such a trip. Some of the quilters used to bring back snippets of fabrics representative of their travels to other parts of the country to share with their group, and many “travel quilts” resulted from these shared pieces.
    It doesn’t even have to involve shopping. There are workshops, museums, and shows to attend. Centre Pieces has recently established a connection with the Redbud Guild in Hungtingdon, PA and has developed friendships there. They invited us to participate in their recent show where we were
awarded some ribbons. In Spring 1991, some of the Wednesday Group spent a day with quilters in Aaronsburg, sharing quilts and conversation.
    Almost anywhere you go, there is a Barn Quilt Trail. Centre Piecers made barn quilts in a recent workshop and have added theirs to the local landscape.
    It’s always fun to make quilt-related stops when traveling, or to make that the reason for the trip, either on your own or with a patient-but-bored companion following you around or waiting in the car. It’s considerably more fun to travel with other quilters who appreciate the time spent admiring designs, fondling the fabric, and otherwise imagining the possibilities, talking about them all the way home!

Sharleen Nichols and ladies of the Aaronsburg
quilt group we visited in Spring 1991.

Ruby Recap and Recharge

    We might all be seeing red for quite a while, and not all of it is wafting in from the Canadian wildfires. The wall of red challenge quilts at the 40th anniversary party glowed and lit up the room. What a great display of creativity and cleverness! We also enjoyed a spectacular show of quilts
inspired by other challenges, workshops, and experiences throughout the guild’s history.
    We had a great turnout of current members and some who were members in the beginning. According to the map pins, several of us were already in State College in 1983, and many were in Pennsylvania, in towns like Murraysville, York, Lancaster, Bethlehem, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and
Pittsburgh. Others were scattered in nearby New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and in Indiana, Michigan, Utah, and Alaska, and as far away as Germany and Israel.
    A lot of the lingering glow from that evening comes from the camaraderie and the enthusiasm of everyone chipping in to make it happen. That generosity and sense of community has supported us for 40 years and keeps us excited about what comes next.
    What comes next is guided by a mix of officers, some continuing in their established roles and some jumping in for the first time. And they are supported by all of us contributing ideas, time, enthusiasm, and whatever else they need to keep the guild busy and vibrant. That’s the spirit that has kept us lively for forty years. Let’s continue to honor our long history by working together to make it even longer. We’ve celebrated with pearls and rubies. We can turn them into gold!

Summer Flowers

    Upon hearing rumors of Verna’s pending retirement, I thought I should make at least one more trip out to Verna’s Fabrics in Mifflinburg before that happened. When I was there taking in the familiar shelves and piles of fabrics (along with books, kids’ toys, hats, and other useful items), Verna was bustling and busy and gave no hint of any changes afoot. She was putting together her 2024 calendar and talking up her annual mid-July sale that was coming soon.
    One of the several fabrics I brought home from Verna’s featured a pattern of transparent looking blue flowers, a print called Pressed Floral Petunia Paper by RJR Studio. It reminded me of a workshop led by some of the members at one of our meetings at which flowers were hammered to transfer the image onto fabric. These prints could then be incorporated into beautiful floral quilts. Many of the guild’s favorite and most fun programs have taken advantage of the expertise and experience of our own members. If you have learned something fun in your quilting experience that you could share, or if there is something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do, the program committee would love to hear about it as they put together plans for the coming year or two.  Meanwhile, there are several online sources for guidance, so if your garden still has some late summer blooms, give flower pounding a try. And consider a road trip to Verna’s for additional inspiration!

Fall(ing Behind)

    The inversion was just right for bouncing music from Blue Band practice to us the other night. Soon squirrels bombarding the deck with half-eaten acorns and hickory nuts will contribute to the percussion section. Leaves piling up everywhere might soften the sound a little, but their colors will add their own bright vibes to the air.  Fall has been a favorite inspiration for quilters. Maybe a greedy grasp of color to last us through a neutral winter. Our first quilt camps were held at Mountain Acres Lodge in spring and fall. The lodge was near state forest land, and there were plenty of walking trails where, especially in the fall, we could work out the kinks from hours of sewing and enjoy the crisp air and changing leaves. One of the lodge members was kind enough to give up one of his weekends there to let the quilters use it for their retreat. To thank him for that, we decided to make him a quilt, choosing a tree block for each of us to make in fall colors. It turned out quite nice, and he was pleased and appreciative of our efforts. We made enough blocks so that we each could make a quilt for ourselves too, and over the years some of these have even been finished!
    I’m sorry to say that my fall tree quilt is still a pile of blocks. If I’d remembered it sooner, it would have made a good UFO Kitty Challenge for the September meeting. I do still have a pretty good-sized stash of fall fabrics, and at the moment I’m more inclined to let it inspire some play with a more recent project in our history: the wonderful workshop presented by Leslie Demmert, Karen Powers, and Nancy Silverman on fabric collage. Their enthusiasm and creativity was contagious, and participants dove right in to having fun with the big piles of colorful scraps. Just as fun as jumping in the leaves, and a great way to hold winter gray at bay!

Helping Our Neighbors

    Centre Pieces has a long history of community involvement and over the years has provided many people and organizations with full-size quilts, lap quilts, wall hangings, and baby quilts for those in need. In 1988, we began collecting blocks and making quilts for Ronald McDonald House. This effort became one of our official guild interest groups and continued for several years. In 1992, the Hearts & Hands committee formed to replace the Ronald McDonald Quilt group and expanded their contributions to include quillows for local police to carry in their patrol cars to give to children they helped in emergencies. The group has gone on to help many different organizations in our community over the years, including Mount Nittany Medical Center, nursing homes, House of Care, Women’s Resource Center, Toys For Tots, and Comfort Covers, to name a few.
    In October 2022, Centre Pieces Quilt Guild accepted administrative responsibility for Comfort Covers, with Lenore Clarke leading the collection and distribution of quilts and other covers. Together with Toys For Tots, currently led by Jill Wisniewski, this has become the guild’s focus for providing help to the community. Several sewing sessions have been held for making fidget quilts, walker bags, bibs, and quilts for Comfort Covers and Toys For Tots. Instructions for these projects and photos from some of the work sessions can be found on the guild’s website under Comfort Covers. The next collection date for Comfort Covers is October 7, from 10-11 at Pine Hall Lutheran Church. Collection deadline for Toys For Tots is December 1.
    The mission of Centre Pieces is to promote a full appreciation of quilts and quilting through sharing, teaching, and fellowship. This has extended beyond our own learning to sharing our time and talent with the wider community that we are a part of. Our members have given generously of their time and resources to all of the various projects that support our community, in keeping with our mission.

Zoom, Zoom!

    The chilly wind and swirling leaves are beginning to make curling up on the couch to finish the binding on some patiently waiting UFOs sound pretty tempting. It feels good to let the hectic spring and summer busyness go and to have a little more time for dreaming, designing, and finishing things.
    Thank goodness we’ll still have each other for inspiration, though, and to keep us from going completely slack. During the COVID pandemic, when we were so isolated, all that time at home got a little old. Many of us had been relying on Zoom and other on-screen ways to keep in touch with
friends and family. It seemed a natural way to also keep the quilt guild connected when we couldn’t meet in person.
    We decided that we were up to the challenge, and a license was purchased so that the guild could hold meetings on Zoom. But first we had to learn how. Sue Younkin agreed to lead the new tech committee, with me helping as sounding board and sidekick, to get us up and over the learning curve of using Zoom competently. We set up some practice sessions. These were casual, low-pressure occasions when we tried out the basics and then experimented with various additional bells and whistles to get comfortable with meeting this way. When we were ready to try a formal meeting, in March 2021, Cynthia Spencer offered a presentation from her shop to help us gain some confidence. By May, we
had scheduled an outside speaker, Carla Klop, to talk to us about her techniques for cutting pieces for her patterns.
    Since then, Zoom has kept us going through the winter months and when weather interferes with meeting in person. It allows us to have speakers from State College or anywhere else in the world. Our members can join in from anywhere, too, with the click of a link.
    As the chill sets in and hibernation sounds like the best option, don’t hesitate to join us through the winter for some inspiration and the warmth of friendship. November will be our first Zoom meeting of the season.
    We’ll be sending out a link for joining in and will offer some practice sessions to brush up on the basic skills. You’ll become just as savvy with Zoom as with mitred corners and paper piecing!
    Zoom took us inside our sewing spaces to see some of our organizational and storage ideas and favorite tools. You can still see the slide presentation in the April 2021 Membership Meeting blog on the Centre Pieces website.