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Examiner
  • Frank Haight: 'Jack of all trades' quilter featured at show

  • What did seamstress Shirley Juliff do when her three school-age daughters balked at wearing homemade clothing ?


    The former Independence resident, who moved last April to John Knox Village in Lee’s Summit, gave up sewing clothes. But she didn’t give up her Brother sewing machine.

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  • What did seamstress Shirley Juliff do when her three school-age daughters balked at wearing homemade clothing ?
    The former Independence resident, who moved last April to John Knox Village in Lee’s Summit, gave up sewing clothes. But she didn’t give up her Brother sewing machine.
    Now that she was no longer sewing for her girls, Shirley searched for an outlet to use her sewing skills. She found it in quilting – a craft alien to her. But one that fascinated her.
    “I had to do something with my sewing machine, so I started quilting,” says Shirley, who learned quickly under the tutelage of Donna Scranton.
    Using the quilt-as-you-go procedure, Shirley’s first quilt was a regular patchwork creation. It will be on display today and Saturday at the 25th annual Calico Cut-ups Quilt Show, with Shirley as the featured quilter. The nonjuried show is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at The Salvation Army Community Center, 14700 E. Truman Road, Independence. Admission is free.
    Some 80 to 100 quilts will be on display, along with tiny quilts created by The Schoolhouse students of Mary Childers. The show also features 12 vendors, a scissors/knife sharpener, concessions, door prizes and an Opportunity Quilt - created by Judy McKerlie - that will be raffled Saturday afternoon. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.
    Though proud of her first quilt - which has been stashed in a plastic bin all these years, Shirley says the quilt would look much better if she were to make another one just like it.
    Referring to herself as a “jack of all trades who will try most anything,” the 79-year-old honoree says she and her daughter Christine Koepke of Blue Springs - whom she taught to quilt - work basically as a team.
    “I do the quilt  top. But the top isn’t that great until the quilting is done,” Shirley says. “My daughter does beautiful designs ... and she makes the quilts as far as I am concerned.”
    As for the final quilting, Christine does it on her long-arm quilting machine.
    “So why should I do all that (work),” says Shirley, who hasn’t pieced a whole quilt since her first endeavor. “I quit making whole quilts because it was a lot of work. It takes too much time.”
    Says Christine of her impatient mother, “When she starts a quilts, she wants it done” as soon as possible.
    Shirley isn’t a quilting workaholic. She usually spends three to four hours a day in a bedroom she has converted into a quilting room. But there have been times, though, when she stayed up all night quilting because she didn’t want to leave it.
    What’s the most enjoyable thing about quilting?
    Page 2 of 2 - For Shirley, it’s applique, she says, because it’s something she can do sitting in front of the TV. But when it comes to putting borders on, well, that’s not Shirley’s forte.
    “I am not crazy about that. I like to do the squares and blocks. That’s a challenge to me.”
    Putting borders on is also “a challenge but not fun to me,” she says. “You  have to work with a large piece (of material) and I don’t think I like that so much.”
    What she does like, though, is attending the weekly meetings of the Calico Cut-ups, where she has been a member for  at least 10 years, she believes.
    “Going to Calico and seeing other people’s quilts is exciting,” says Shirley, who also taught her mother how to quilt. “I really enjoy seeing what other people do ... and I enjoy the ladies that I get together with.”
    Is there anything in quilting that Shirley won’t do? Yes, there is, and here’s why.
    When Shirley’s daughter, Brenda Fairchild, who lives in Virginia, asked her mother if she would make a quilt for a  friend, she was up to the challenge.
    “It was a  whole cloth kit,” Shirley says, recalling she hand-quilted the whole quilt that was set up on a frame in her living room for a year. “It was a lot of work and I wouldn’t do that again for anybody – except for myself.”
    And she hasn’t.
    Ask Shirley how long it takes her to make an average quilt, and she quips: “It depends on how interested I am (in the quilt).”
    Shirley’s interest in her latest creation, “Call Me Modern,” must have been sky high, because she  completed it in less than a month. The quilt will be on display this weekend.
    There are many things that worry quilters. But for Shirley, fabric isn’t one of them. Her bedroom closet is stacked to the ceiling with quilting material. So full, in fact, that’s she’s on a mission to use up her stash of fabrics.
    “What I am looking at doing now is making scrap quilts,” she says. “Probably from now on, that is what I will be doing.”
    How much does Shirley love quilting?
    “I could just sew forever and probably will,” she says, despite the fact she suffers from Dystonia, a disease that causes upper-body trembling.
    “I’ll just keep on quilting until I can’t do it anymore.”
      Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at  816-350-6363.
     
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