Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival returns to downtown Camas

A passion for patchwork

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People of all ages flocked to the festive downtown area on Friday and Saturday. And it was the power of quilts and fiber arts that drew them in.The Downtown Camas Association’s second annual Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival offered participants a wide range of classes, demonstrations and a number of quilts and fiber arts to view, purchase and vote on for the People’s Choice award. New quilters and professionals alike showed up.

“I went to the quilt show in Sisters, [Ore.],” said Renay Crews, event coordinator. “And I wanted to bring it here. People have been so supportive.”

New this year was the jelly roll contest and class. It was also the first time attending for several vendors stationed along Fourth Avenue between Birch and Cedar streets.

Volunteers ran a jelly roll class on Friday evening to prepare for the contest on Saturday. Jelly rolls are prepared strips of fabric that can be sewn together in three hours to make a full, simple and inexpensive quilt. The record time is 35 minutes, and there are numerous YouTube videos showcasing the art. Most of the participants at the Camas event, however, completed the task in two or three hours.

“This class, the whole festival can show people who don’t know anything about quilting or sewing that it’s fun and easy,” said Nancy Andrews, a participant in the jelly roll class and the festival.

“It’s really an ‘everybody’ project,” added Roxanne Jones, a volunteer.

Strangers and groups of friends alike joined together over the common bonds of quilts and fiber arts. It was not uncommon to hear people who just met discussing different techniques or describing first-hand experiences with their own projects.

This year’s People’s Choice award, voted on Friday and announced Saturday, was given to Laurinda Reddig’s rowan tree vest. Her vest, created using techniques she invented, also won a $1,000 grand prize from Vogue Knitting.

Reddig is also an active blogger, and through her site she connected with two female soldiers in Afghanistan to knit blankets and hats to be donated to neonatal intensive care units in the area. Those blankets were on display at the Journey Community Church during the festival.

The nationwide non-profit organization Project Linus had a room at Journey Community Church. Children and adults could help make quilts to donate to NICUs in the Portland and Vancouver areas. Children picked out strips of fabric and two women worked hard to sew them into quilts to donate.

The festival welcomed people with all different levels of experience. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Vendors and businesses supporting the festival fielded questions and shared information with passersby and eager customers.

“This is the first time we’ve come to the festival,” explained Nancy Andrews. “I’ve been sewing for seven years and I still feel like a beginner sometimes.”

Most of the classes had fees ranging from $20 to $45, including materials. They spanned from quilting pattern techniques to needle felting to crocheting and more.

There was fun for kids, too. Volunteers “yarn bombed” the downtown area, hiding in unique places knitted objects for a scavenger hunt. For example, one of the hints on the scavenger hunt list was “tree hugger,” and tied around a tree was a colorful knit rope. Some of the yarn-bombs got very creative.

“Quilting has such roots in history,” said Alexis Mendez, who was wandering the streets with her out-of-town friend and looking at the quilts on display. “It’s so great to see a resurgence.”