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Zion Episcopal showcases quilts, history

By By CHRISTINA HALE,Staff Writer
The Zion Episcopal Church in Washington with a congregation 270 years old, celebrated a long-standing history of quilters Sunday with a colorful display.
Last year, the church celebrated its sesquicentennial. “The building turned 150,” the Rev. William Winston said. As part of the celebration, church members exhibited their quilts.
Charlotte Winston is a member of the Pamlico River Quilting Guild of Washington. She said when most people see the quilts, they want to know how to start. The amount of time and work that goes into a quilt depends on the project. “I can quilt a small baby quilt in a day, but something with embroidery can take months and months.”
There are records of quilting groups at the church before the civil war. “We have a long history associated with quilting, which is probably true of a lot of the older churches in this area,” Charlotte Winston said.
Zion Episcopal Church was established in 1738 by the Robert Cutler family. The original church, which caught fire, was located two miles east of the present site. The church was rebuilt in 1856 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Although, Cutler is not a quilter, she entered two quilts in Sunday’s exhibit. Both were made from Navy uniforms that belonged to her husband, Michael Wayne Cutler. “He was in the Navy for 13 years and after he retired we had all these uniforms. … I had them quilted by someone locally and gave them to our children,” she said.
Cutler sold raffle tickets at the quilt show to help raise money for the church. Her grandmother, Callie Braddy, made the top of the raffled quilt before she passed away in January. Brenda Boyd of Pinetown, another church member, finished it, she said.
Quilters do not have to be a member of Zion Episcopal to display a quilt at the show.
The oldest quilt at the show was a “log cabin” design from 1800s. “You can date a quilt by the fabric,” Gloria Windley of Bath said.
Quilting is a skill that was passed down. A nursery rhyme quilt featured at the show was started in 1940 by Ethel Brooks Seldon for her granddaughter Susan, but was left unfinished. The adult granddaughter, Susan Seldon Wingard, picked it up and finished it in 1990 for her granddaughter Erin.
Some of the quilts were made by hand and others by machine. All designs were showcased, from contemporary to traditional.
John and Sue Nesbitt of Washington attended the show. Sue Nesbitt recently started quilting and went on a retreat with a group of guild quilters. “It is fun. We sat around and shared. There is the sewing and the working, but there is also lots of sharing.”
The quilt “Jack’s Flannels” was made by Myrt Blakey of Washington who used pieces of fabric from her husband’s flannel shirts and robes after he had died. It won Judge’s Choice at the 2004 annual quilting guild competition in Washington.