By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
FULTON – If there’s one thing to be said about Fulton’s Judy Fletcher, it’s that she loves quilting.
Tucked in a cozy back corner of her house, surrounded by no fewer than three sewing machines, Fletcher works on projects, a smile on her face. A long stretch of windows overlooking Lake Itawamba sits to her left, flooding her workspace with natural light and giving her cat, Master, a warm spot in which to sit. On the wall to her right hangs a mural of potential future projects and half-formed ideas.
It’s in this spot that Fletcher feels her most productive and happiest. In fact, she finds the work itself so rewarding that she very rarely keeps any of the fruits of her labors for herself.
“Mostly, what I’ve been doing is for my friends and family,” she said. Soft spoken but quick-tongued, she speaks in low tones at a quick clip. “I just have to have something to do; I’d get into trouble if I didn’t. Or, go crazy.
“Your hands need to keep doing something,” she added.
One of her most recent projects – a large decorative photo-quilt – was donated to the Itawamba County Learning Center to help with the nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts.
The quilt, which features interwoven photographs of downtown Fulton, will be raffled away during the upcoming Potter’s Wheel show on Sept. 8. Chances are $1 each, or six chances for $5. All proceeds will go to further the efforts of the Learning Center.
The quilt took about three weeks to complete – one of her longer projects, she said.
But it’s not just time this retired teacher has invested in her hobby: In true hobby-junkie fashion, Fletcher has invested in several top-of-the-line sewing machines – tech-heavy devices that help her transfer the images in her mind to fabric.
She said the world has come a long way from the simple needle and thread of yesteryear. Not that those haven’t played their role in developing her passion as well.
“I’ve been seriously quilting for about six years, but I played with it for years before that,” Fletcher said, adding that she has vivid memories of the large quilts her grandmother would make. They’d hang in her house, and Fletcher – a young girl at the time – would duck beneath them as she ran through the home.
“Growing up, everybody I knew quilted,” she said. “I’ve been around quilting ever since I can remember. It was just natural for me to pick it up, too.”
Lately, she’s been playing around with new methods of quilting. There’s a relatively new process called photo quilting, which involves printing photographs onto fabric and incorporating them as part of a quilt. Fletcher said the idea immediately won her over.
“I just started using (some of my sister’s) photographs to make my quilts,” she said, adding that she was thrilled with the results. Now, she’s begun experimenting with all kinds of different themes and subject matters.
“There’s always something new to try,” she said, admitting that she’s not afraid of a little trial and error. “If it works, fine; if it doesn’t, I’ll try again.”
Fletcher said she’s excited to be lending her talents to the Learning Center, where she also volunteers. It’s a good cause, she said. Plus, she’d be quilting anyway; might as well help out.
“I know how much they need it,” she said of the Learning Center. Just like any good quilt, Fletcher knows it takes a variety of elements – generosity, volunteerism, a desire to help others – to make the organization work. The least she could do, she said, was share a little bit of her passion to help out.
“I love to do it; they need it. It’s a good combination,” she said.