2009-10-08 / Front Page

Upton Quilter Featured At Fall Folk Festival Oct. 16-18

By Emily Beaton

Featured quilter Thelma Kincaid has practiced her craft since she was 20 years old. Featured quilter Thelma Kincaid has practiced her craft since she was 20 years old. This year’s featured quilter at the Fulton County Quilt Club Show at the old Fulton Theatre during the Fulton Fall Folk Festival does things the old-fashioned way, the way she learned as a girl in West Virginia. Back then, there were “no fancy tools to help, like today,” so she hand-sewed everything. Today, although she does some piecing by machine, Thelma Kincaid, now living in Upton, mostly still sews by hand. She grew up making doll quilts, but she didn’t learn quilting until she married, from her mother-in-law.

Her family looms large in Thelma’s quilt-making. She’s made quilts for her three children, and six of eight grandchildren. She’s made baby quilts for eight great-grandchildren, too. “I didn’t quilt much when my children were little, and now I care for three great-grandchildren, so I quilt early in the morning or late at night, whenever I have a free moment.” When her children were older, Thelma sewed two quilts a year. She would keep one in a frame, to work on in daytime, and one in a hoop, to work on in the evening, while her husband watched television. During one period her husband worked the night shift, and she quilted while he was gone. Her husband liked her quilts, and would always want to keep the ones she was planning to give away. That wasn’t going to happen, but, she says, “He always got to sleep under them before they got them.”

Some quilts she makes for herself. She has sold a few – people in her family bought ones she didn’t want to give up – but mostly she makes them to give away to family members. Although she prefers darker colors for herself, she likes to choose fabric in colors liked by the person for whom she plans to make the quilt. All the quilts are made as surprise presents.

Thelma’s first quilt, at age 20, was a grandmother’s Flower Garden design, in pink. She made her own medium-sized hexagon pattern for that quilt. Since then she has mostly used her mother-in-law’s patterns, although sometimes she does get patterns out of books. She can’t count the number of quilts she’s made, of different patterns: two more Flower Garden quilts, Bear’s Paw, Trip Around the World, Postage Stamp, Pickle Dish, Double Wedding Ring, Periwinkle, Broken Star, Lone Star, and more. She’s made appliqué quilts, crossstitch and embroidery and whole-cloth quilts. “I’ve tried everything, but always come back to piecing.” Her quilting designs are varied, too: some flowers, spider-web, outline quilting, or in-the-ditch. Sometimes she figures out a quilting pattern from her imagination. She’s tried different thimbles, but always returns to the metal thimbles she used when she first learned.

Thelma’s quilts can be seen at the Quilt Show at the old Fulton Theatre on Friday, October 16, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, October 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, October 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fulton County residents and members of the Fulton County Quilt Club can submit hand-quilted quilts and quilted items for the contest and show on Wednesday, October 15, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Thursday, October 16, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the theatre.

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