Quilting memories together at the UT Extension Office

Art can create memories just as much as they can help preserve them, and artists from across the tri-cities work to showcase these various techniques for as many people as possible.

Jonesborough resident Angela Harris will bring her quilting skills to Elizabethton next Monday, showcasing the art of T-Shirt quilt-making.

She said she has been teaching quilting classes across the tri-cities for at least the past 20 years.

“People often want T-Shirt quilts for kids going off to college, after a loved one passes away or with baby clothes,” Harris said. “A lot of people do not do them, so we get a lot of referrals.”

Harris currently runs Fellowship Quilters in Jonesborough, part of a fellowship of local business owners. Harris said they average about two to three quilts a month.

“I did one when my first daughter went to college,” she said.

From there, she said people saw her work and got excited, leading her to continue to make them for a living.

She said T-Shirt quilts differ from traditional sewing techniques and products.

“The shirt is the star,” Harris said. “Your quilting is just to hold it all together.”

The shirts often come in different varieties of material and toughness, so for many, she said people need to “back” the shirt fabric while quilting it into the tapestry.

Despite the shift in focus, Harris said shirts are not the only type of fabric used or even the only component at all.

“We have even used hats, karate belts and boy and girl scout patches,” she said. “We try to put on anything as a memory.”

She said they can also embroider words and/or phrases onto certain patches of the quilt, and they will sometimes add images or photos, as well.

When she first started with the craft, she said she thought sewing was just for mending clothing.

“I fell in love with quilting immediately,” Harris said. “I enjoy the artistry, and I love to play with colors.”

She said the class will show participants the step-by-step process of how to quilt together T-Shirts and other similar materials. Though she said participants will need to bring their own shirts to use, by the time they leave, she said they will understand how to make their own at home.

The class will take place Monday, April 22, starting at 10 a.m. The UT Extension Office is located at 824 East Elk Ave. There is no registration fee to attend.

“If you have a group, we can do a similar class,” she said. “I enjoy teaching even though I retired from it.”

Those interested in more information can contact Harris at 423-677-5990.

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