Lifestyle

Federal Way quilter Gantt quickens the pace on a traditional craft

Sue Gantt, 65, works on a quilt for a friend using a long-arm quilting machine in her quilting studio at her Federal Way home. - Joshua Lynch/ The Mirror
Sue Gantt, 65, works on a quilt for a friend using a long-arm quilting machine in her quilting studio at her Federal Way home.
— image credit: Joshua Lynch/ The Mirror

Sue Gantt of Federal Way might sew traditional quilts, but nothing about her technique is traditional.

“In the good old days the ladies would have sat there (sewing) with their one-inch scraps,” said Gantt, 65.

The process of sewing a quilt by hand can be time-consuming and tedious. Gantt uses a long-arm quilting machine to speed the process along. She compares the efficiency to the difference between plowing a field with a tractor instead of a shovel.

“Our ancestors would not have done it by hand if they had any choices,” she said. “The tools that we use now allow so much speed.”

A recent project of Gantt’s, a quilt she named “Starry Starry Night,” is a finalist in the eighth biennial Pacific Northwest Quiltfest next weekend at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle.

Her piece is one of 291 finalists selected from nearly 600 entries from five U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. Winners will be chosen in 11 categories and prizes valued at $40,000 will be awarded.

It is Gantt’s first contest. She originally created the quilt as a Christmas quilt to use in her guest room, but decided it was among her most exceptional work and should be entered in the contest.

“I actually thought the quilt was good enough... There was just something about it that was special,” she said. “The workmanship was impeccable.”

Gantt has quilted hundreds of quilts in the 20 years since she picked up a passion for the craft.

“I am just so hooked. It is my drug of choice,” she said. “I won’t live long enough to make all the ideas I have.”

Gantt will also offer her quilt for sale at the event for $2,500. An appraiser suggested $2,000, but Gantt raised the price because the quilting show will keep 20 percent of the sale. Gantt has sold many quilts. Others she has given away as gifts or donated to charity groups to sell at fundraising auctions. A great deal of quilts decorate her home.

Quilting is a wonderful craft because it is artistic and mathematical, Gantt said.

“I really love that structure,” she said. “And yet it’s so creative.”

Contact Margo Hoffman: mhoffman@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

The Pacific Northwest Quiltfest is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 8-9 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. Admission is $10. For more information, call (425) 558-1983 or visit www.apnq.org.

To learn more about quilting, visit a meeting of the Federal Way Crazy Quilters at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at the Evergreen Lodge, 31002 26th Ave. S. in Federal Way.

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