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Bonny Doon Community Website
Quilting in Bonny Doon

Quilts Charlotte Lyons
Quilting in Bonny Doon
(831) 426-8513

Scripture Quilt Lastforever Red Cloud Community Lastforever Green Ohio Stars Close Cloud
Many Thanks to Cecelia Hunter for the beautiful pictures of my quilts!
Click on any photo to see a larger version. Use the BACK key to return here.

My History:

Actually my first stitches joined little scraps left on the floor when my mother sewed with her friend. Later, buying cloth from the store together, she said, "Don't you dare cut up that good piece of material."  So, a quilting career was born.

Leaving the desert of Imperial Valley I studied math in the 1960s at the University of California in Berkeley. After a short time in the rural South, I spent several years walking on the Pacific Crest Trail, and then built a home in Mendocino on the Usal Road. In 1972 I helped friends move to Smith Grade and I came to live in Bonny Doon in 1974. My husband and I had a candy store (with windows by John Forbes and Michael Leeds) and a juice bar in Santa Cruz's old courthouse: the Cooper House. We built this solar home, kept a goat, and chickens. I can and raise lots of our food.

During the years of raising three children and helping raise two of three grandchildren, I made quilts. I helped Marion Wahl and other k-3rd grade teachers making quilts with the Bonny Doon School children. I continue to make quilts with families and school children. For two of the three years I made quilts with Monarch Elementary School (where my grandsons go to school), each of the children had a quilt in the Paharo Quilt Guild Annual Show in Watsonville. I have learned a great deal about color and also about the way we share words to change, to deal with change through stories, from the many children in these groups.

Often a young mother will come upon me and say "Remember when I made my quilt with you at Bonny Doon School...I still have it." One quilt was sent to a daughter put up for adoption, when that daughters' first child was born. The comfort and compassion talked out in these small groups weaves itself into the material chosen and stitched into each quilt. Our groups weave themselves into community history.

Influence of the Bonny Doon Environment:

I have a big garden. My quilt studio overlooks madrone and fir just outside my garden. Deer and gophers, ants and trees, the clear night sky influence my quilts. Each quilt is sewn with prayers for the easing of daily calamity, thanksgiving for the wonders of this life, each tells a story, or at least reminds me of the time I made that quilt.

Design:

Individually lettered poems and prayers are often a part of my quilts. Always, central pieces of fabric are pictures of animals, story book characters - ducks, foxes, herons. Cloth pieces become trees, night sky, houses. I put "log cabin" cloth houses in clouds, or sew communities of houses with old ladies and cats into forests. Some quilts have houses and gardens beyond dark skies with pieced stars and pictures, in cloth, of angels. Borders of intricate stars frame these scenes or, inversely some quilts are complex stars bound by forest borders filled with birds, night sky.

During the Vietnam War years my husband and I walked on the Pacific Crest Trail between Yosemite and Crater Lake in Oregon and I hand pieced a quilt on dark sky blue with a white church, Mexican courtyard, fences and animals, homes in community. Today Bonny Doon with the white church is home.

Groups:

If you are thinking of a memorable gift, consider making a quilt with all of your extended family and friends. I offer structured classes with adults and children together. Working in a classroom, with five to eight children at a time for several hours twice a week, each child finishes a quilt in about three months. You can do this. I finish projects which include family art work on cloth. I can give free advice.

Please feel free to contact me for any questions and pricing information.

Anyone can sew a quilt. Your own will be the most beautiful. There are lots of "how to" books, below are my quilting choices:

Needles:

I have dozens of sizes and shapes of needles, a whole museum of pincushions and needles, scissors and thimbles. I use a leather thimble, with metal inset opposite my finger nail, and elastic base. My favorite quilting needle is the 8 between.

Material:

Each quilt is made with entirely new cloth. Some material is heavier, some lighter, but one quilt will usually have only one weight of cotton sewn together for the top. Lighter material does not last as long, but is far easier to quilt. Denim quilts with cotton velour backing lasts longest, but each denim piece will be large compared with light cotton fabric which can sometimes be 1/2" x 1/2" in my fancy quilts - complex Ohio Star and California Star, log cabin, picture quilts, hand quilted on a quilt frame.

Quilt Frame:

I use a quilt frame to join the front patchwork piece and batting to the backing of all the quilts. The frame stretches the three parts from sides, while holding top and bottom tight; the batting floats. For the simplest "last forever" patchworks of 4" to 6" squares. I pin or tie knots into the three layers while they are stretched on my quilt frame.

Quilting:

Once tacked, I take these quilts off the frame and machine stitch along seams. A large quilt takes several days to machine quilt. These hard working "machine" quilts endure. Hand quilting gives a far more pliable drape than machine sewing. Hand quilting a large quilt on my quilt frame takes two to four weeks.

Batting:

Batting determines whether the quilt will be soft, washable, and or warm. Cotton batting is very lightweight and allows the fabric of the quilt to breath; it has the capacity for absorbing moisture, thus creating a cooling effect in the summer and natural warmth in the winter. In the "last forever" quilts I often use wool blankets, felted by putting them through the dryer after a hot washing. The quilt user will always have to be careful to wash these quilts in cold water; but the warmth of a wool batting is a joy every winter.

Blankets covered with quilts twenty years ago are almost in the same condition as new when they come back to me to be recovered by another new quilt. Wool batting is heavy, cotton lightweight, and polyester feather weight.

The life of the quilt depends on how closely the quilting is done. Children who grow up sleeping under the weight of wool batting quilts usually prefer this for their lifetime.