Quilters Gather in Calais

SCIQ welcomes Jude Clark as VP. Sitting: Mary Anne O’Brien (treasurer), Jolene Clark (1st VP), Jude Clark (2nd VP). Standing: Jane Eaton (Secretary) Sue McIver (President).

Submitted by: Lynda 

Duplissea, Publicity St. Croix International Quilters


On September 20, 2018, quilters of the St. Croix Valley will gather in Calais to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Pine Tree Quilters, Inc. of Maine. The event is scheduled to take place at the Methodist Homes Rec Center, Palmer Street, at 6:00 p.m.

Eighteen years ago, the St. Croix International Quilters (SCIQ) reorganized to become a chapter of Maine’s quilting guild. Their newly elected executive wanted the September business meeting to be “less business and more of a celebration,” explains SCIQ’s president Sue McIver.

“We’ve got some new faces and lots of new ideas. Jude Clark is a new face to our executive. She’s got lots of great ideas and will be lining up some exciting Wednesday workshops for us. She’s even arranged for us to meet in the afternoons during the winter months so our ladies won’t have to drive on icy roads at night.” McIver explains. 

“The September meeting will give our members and anyone who’s interested in learning more about us to come out and enjoy cake, demonstrations, and other fun. Karen (from Eastport’s Fabric Emporium) is coming and she’s going to have a few surprises for us. But I don’t want to reveal too much. You’ll have to come and see for yourself,” McIver teases.

“There’s a lot of confusion about how old our group really is because depending upon who you ask, you get a different answer,” explains Publicity Chair Lynda Duplissea. “When I came to the St. Croix Valley 35 years ago, I met some women who gathered to sew and to share everything from quilting tips and favorite recipes to news about family and friends. They met in each other’s homes in Calais and other times in St. Stephen. I was newly married, helping to raise my husband’s three children, and didn’t own a sewing machine so I wasn’t involved with The St. Croix Valley Quilters, as they were known then. But since some of my new friends were, I’d hear a lot about what they were sewing for local charities and their families. I always knew that once I retired from teaching, I’d like to learn how to quilt. So when I retired from the classroom, I guess you could say I turned in my lesson plans for patterns.”

Treasurer Mary Anne O’Brien remembers how the interest in quilting grew to the point that the quilters from Calais wanted a permanent meeting hall. She and Anita Johnson found that the Methodist Homes Rec Center would open its doors to the group. ”Along with a few others, we began the process of organizing us to become an officially recognized chapter of The Pine Tree Guild, Inc. of Maine. That was 18 years ago and that’s why when I’m asked how old our group is, I say ‘18 years old’ even though our website suggests that we’re a lot older,” O’Brien says with a laugh.  

Often working on projects for charities and/or other non-profit groups, “Our members are encouraged to sew for Project Linus, The American and Canadian Cancer Societies and other causes. Together we have created raffle quilts for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Next Step and Fundy Transition House domestic violence agencies, and many local causes including Hospice services in Washington and Charlotte counties,” adds Peggy Brownlee, one of the members who organizes the Hospice Lap Quilt Initiative.

Fundraising Chair Wanda Pollock says, “Creating a raffle quilt with proceeds benefiting the Ronald McDonald Charities began in 2006 in conjunction with the biennial quilt show.” In 2016, the quilters were pleased to donate over $2000 to the charity. “We’re almost ready to unveil this year’s quilt, “Scraps of the Past” and will have raffle tickets available soon,” she adds.

SCIQ held its first quilt show in conjunction with the Washington County Vocational-Technical School (now the WCCC) in 2004 as part of the International Homecoming Festival and St. Croix Island celebrations. With its success, members decided to host a show biennially, eventually choosing the fall of even numbered years. This change also brought about a change in venue. Since 2008 the show has been hosted at The First Congregational Church of Calais during the last full weekend of September to align with St. Anne’s Apple Fest. 

The quilters have been planning their 2018 show, Piece By Piece 2018, which is scheduled to take place Sept. 28 & 29, 2018. Julie Jordan, Sue Martell, and Theresa Wright are co-coordinators for this show. They say that hosting the show has become a community event with the success of the 2012 and 2014 shows coordinated by Duplissea and that they want to build upon that success.  Duplissea explains, “Every coordinator brings something different to the show, and that’s what keeps the shows fresh.” She will remain part of the planning committee focusing on publicity just as she has done since 2012. “I know the show is in good hands,” Duplissea adds.

“To help our quilters and others learn more about our chapter and its events, Bonnie Brown Hunter and her husband Rob maintain our website (www.stcroixquilters.com) and now with the help of member Sher Donnolly, we have a new Facebook page as well,” explains McIver. “Find us on line and be sure to join us on the 20th,” encourages McIver, “It promises to be a great night.”