Landrum Quilters invite public to experience history, tradition, art

Published 10:00 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

From the long quilting tradition in the Foothills region, through the influence of quilting guru Georgia Bonesteel, and the artistry of former Landrum Librarian Ruth Farrar, the Landrum Quilters, formed in 1980, host a large show every two years, drawing about 1,000 people. This June 8 – 10, the group will present its artwork at the Landrum Middle School gymnasium.

Landrum Quilters treasurer Ellen Henderson explained that the group, which boasts 115 members, got its start in the old Landrum Library (now the Walker Wallace Emerson building). Farrar, librarian at the time, asked her friend Bonesteel, if she would teach a quilting class.

Bonesteel, an internationally known quilter, did, and the rest is history, or, maybe current events, as Bonesteel will be at this year’s show on Friday June 9, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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Including some of Bone-steel’s wall quilts, the show will display some 181 quilts in 16 categories.

Quilting is popular in this area because of Georgia Bonesteel,” Henderson emphasized. “We have new members who have moved to this area because of her.”

Henderson said that Bonesteel helped revive quilting in this area.

Landrum Quilters meets the second Thursday of each month in the Gowensville Community Center, at 9:30 a.m.

In 1990, the group held its first show in the O.P. Earle Elementary School.

Henderson pointed out that quilters are very involved in the community. Landrum Quilters are part of the Landrum Area Business Association, and make quilts for the Landrum Hospice House, the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville, and for the Hope Center for Children in Spartanburg. They also conduct monthly collections for Steps to Hope in Columbus.

“We also like to educate people about quilts,” Henderson added. In those alternate years when the big show is not held, the group celebrates National Quilting Day in March. One of those events was held at the current Landrum Library.

The City of Landrum has reciprocated, and supports the Landrum Quilters. Many downtown businesses support the display of quilts. While being interviewed for this feature, Henderson also busied herself with directing the placement of signs at many downtown businesses which support the group’s efforts.

This year, visitors and locals alike are invited to follow the Foothills Quilt Trail, maps of which are included on brochures placed around town and online. The stories of each quilt block are also online. Visit A quilt trail is comprised of quilt block designs painted on weather-resistant boards installed outside at various locations along a designated route. These trails, recognized as popular tourist destinations, started in Ohio in 2003 and quickly spread because of their colorful and nostalgic appeal.

Routes to see quilt blocks at various locations are marked in red and blue on the brochure’s map. Each quilt block represents a unique story. Sometimes it represents a treasured quilt, and the family who owns it. Others tell the history of businesses occupying the specific site, connecting viewers with the early history of Landrum.

Quilt block sponsors are the City of Landrum, Landrum Quilters and the Mary F. Kessler Fund of the Polk County Community Foundation.

At the show next week, quilters will offer their creations for sale, with the group taking a portion of each sale. Quilters will also offer one-foot by one-foot quilt blocks.

The advent of machine quilting, including long-arm quilting machines, and of rotary cutters, has changed some aspects of quilting, but Henderson notes that the group has members who do a lot of traditional types of quilting.

“I just like something creative. Larger machines can speed up the process over traditional sewing machines, but the creativity does not change,” she pointed out. “I like different styles of quilting. In the end, it’s still about intricate detail, backing, padding and presentation.”