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Quilting: A Lost Tradition or New Age Talent?

Quilting: A lost tradition or a New Age Talent?

Quilters Know Quilting! The rest of us, well, speaking for myself, I don’t even know how to sew, but what an art! Do any of you have the start of an unfinished quilt tucked away in a drawer that you started a long time ago? Is there a beginning of a quilt from a relative hiding in a closet? Maybe you have a hand stitched quilt that has been handed down for many generations. Back in the day, quilts were hand stitched and often given to relatives to celebrate births, marriages, and more. The process was very meticulous. Many of these old quilts can be found in Museums such as the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky or the Levy Country Quilt here in Chiefland, Florida. While much has changed using technology, it was and still is a treasured talent. I know this after speaking with Kathy Cochrane a quilter and new Sorrento East resident.

When you walk into Kathy Cochrane’s home it looks like most homes until you look a little bit closer. Wait! What is that huge contraption in her family room? It’s a “Long Arm Quilting Machine that is 14 feet long and named “Henrietta” after her Mother. Walk into another room and there is another “Long Arm Quilting Machine” only 8 feet long named “Etta” because…well, you guessed it, it’s smaller! Who knew quilting took up so much space? Not me! In the next room is a beautiful quilted bedspread that took her 3 years to create. The process of stitching and piecing together little tiny colorful fabric pieces is called “paper piecing.” To me, it’s like putting a puzzle together piece by piece except in quilting, the creator makes those puzzle pieces and stitches them together. Kathy’s home is a magical display of beautiful quilts and yes, she will give you a tour upon request!

Kathy started out several years ago when she decided to take “Quilting 101” with her then 12-year old daughter. She has been quilting for 14 years and loves it! She does not quilt or do quilting for profit, but donates her masterpieces to veterans, children, and those in need. To quilt and perform quilting are two different things: to “quilt” is to sew the top together making patterns or pictures; to do quilting, is to put 3 pieces together: the top, the batting (middle), and the backing (back of the quilt) which is also beautiful. Currently, she belongs to two guilds: the Gold Coast Quilt Guild in Boca Raton and the Venice Area Quilt Guild, obviously in Venice. Once a year, the Gold Coast Guild holds the “The Journey Home Ceremony“in which people nominate veterans for the prestigious presentation of the “Quilt of Valor.” This event presents around 50 quilts each year to honor our veterans for their service to our country. Each veteran is presented with an American themed quilt along with a letter of thanks and instructions for caring for their quilt. Did you know that there is something called, “Color Catchers?” You can use it to wash bold colors such as red and blue with your whites without those colors bleeding into your washed garments! No purples or pinks with “Color Catchers” included with the Quilts of Valor and letters of appreciation. Who knew? Quilters do!

One of Kathy’s most memorable quilt presentations was when she presented a quilt to a veteran she met while chaperoning him on the “Honor Flight” for 43 WWII Veterans. This one-day trip took them to Washington D.C. where they visited the National WWII Memorial, Iwo Jima Monument, and Arlington. Later that year, Kathy gave an American Flag themed quilt to the veteran she was partnered with throughout the Honor Flight. He was so touched, he told her that he wanted to be wrapped in this quilt and buried with him in his casket. What an honor!

To learn more about quilting or to nominate a veteran for the annual Journey Home Ceremony in Boca Raton, please contact Kathy at:

If scheduling a tour with Kathy, make sure to wear a mask and fallow CDC guidelines.

Written by Katy Stewart, SEPOA Director

Photo's by Kathy Cochrane Quilter Extraordinaire and Mandy Schottenstein, SEPOA President



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