SHERIDAN — For Jackie Jolovich, quilting meant time with her grandmother.
She started tackling the craft when she was about 8 years old, learning how to hand piece quilts when she would visit her grandmother in the summertime.
“She quilted and asked if I wanted to learn,” Jolovich recalled, “I said I did. It was something we did together. It was quality time with her.”
The art, perhaps more than others, has the tradition of being passed from generation to generation. Mothers and grandmothers teach younger family members the skills required to wrap their loved ones in warmth.
“When I’m making quilts, I put a lot of love into them,” Jolovich said. “I’m thinking about the person I’m making it for. I’m creating something comfortable, a comfort to them.”
Not all art is created with a specific user or audience in mind as quilts often are. Whether they are lap quilts or baby blankets for family members or Quilts of Valor pieced for local veterans, an end user often is in mind from the onset of a project. As the National Museum of American History notes, “quilts are not the domain of a specific race or class, but can be part of anyone’s heritage and treasured as such. Whether of rich or humble fabrics, large in size or small, expertly crafted or not, well-worn or pristine, quilts…provide a textile narrative that contributes to America’s complex and diverse history.”
Quilting, like many art forms, has a long history. Knights wore quilted clothing under their armor. According to the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University in Kansas, the earliest surviving bed quilt is one from Sicily from the end of the 14th century. From there, quilts became part of society as both sources of warmth and camaraderie in the form of quilting bees.
According to a 2014 Quilting in America survey, quilters in the U.S. spend $3.76 billion a year on their work, a 5 percent increase compared to the prior four years. The survey also showed that there are more than 16 million active quilters in the country. That number, though, is a 23 percent decrease since 2010. The survey contributes some of that decline to the economy, as casual quilters will take a break from the art in lean times to pursue other, less expensive hobbies. Jolovich took a break from quilting when she had children of her own, but picked it up again in her 30s. She was helping to lead a Girl Scout troop and one project included piecing together a quilt.
Jolovich took a class and learned more, leading to what she now calls an addiction. She now teaches classes through her store, The Quilters’ Fix. She sees some customers in their 20s and 30s, she said, but most are older. According to the Quilting in America survey, the average age of quilters is 64.
The store offers beginner classes, but she said they don’t fill often.
“I think people think if we’re going to do a quilt, it’s going to look just like the sample,” she said. “But that’s the thing about quilting, you can make it any colors you want.”
And while quilting can be time consuming, Jolovich has observed that if it’s something a crafter likes to do, he or she will make the time for it.
“If it’s between dishes or quilting, I’ll take quilting every day,” she chuckled.