By Rebecca Jones, special to the News-Times
BEAUFORT — Quilting was a big part of colonial America. Although quilts were made for the necessity of creating warm bedding due to lack of heat in homes, they also marked important life events such as marriage, a birth of a child, or a family member leaving home.
Barbara Bayliff of Beaufort, affectionately called Babs, always loved her Grandmother Bohannon’s quilts and her grandmother gave her one. Babs says she was never interested in making quilts until about six years ago because she felt they were too old fashioned.
Babs said, “My Grandmother Mimi taught me to sew when I was 12 years old. I had watched her make our clothes and make couture clothes for clients in the days before so much ready wear was available. In those days women had special outfits custom made a lot of times. She taught me the basis of sewing and I made a lot of my own clothes in high school and college. I put sewing aside for many years; then after retiring I made handbags and sold them to boutique stores and clients. I referred to them as theater or dinner bags - a special night out kind of thing instead of every day.”
A few years ago a cousin visited Babs and wanted to check out the quilting shops so off they went. Babs said she really wasn’t interested in buying but they were enjoying the time together. Then Babs said she discovered the world of modern quilts. They no longer had to be old fashioned or just a bunch of blocks repeated over and over. She has taken some fun workshops along the way and attended some quilting retreats where lots of people set up for several days and everyone sews, visits, eats, laughs and has fun.
Babs’ favorite part of quilting is auditioning fabrics. It’s the creative part that she really enjoys. She loves picking out fabrics and deciding on patterns to show off the fabrics the best. Sometimes a pattern comes first, sometimes the fabric. The sewing produces the vision and makes it a real object to use and love. She loves modern colors and designs and likes a pieced backing that makes the backside interesting and uses up some of the scraps.
She has several favorite quilts: Babs says, “Fashion District was my first quilt and I love the colors and it makes me smile, Chic Shells has great colors and is in honor of the beach. I made it when we lived in Arizona and getting to the beach was a little farther. Another favorite is NYC Skyline which I started in a workshop and it is done in black, white and grey, one of my few without bold colors. I finished it right before we moved to Beaufort and a friend saw it and loved it and she bought it.”
The theme seems to be places and things she loves. The best kind of sleep beneath heaven above is under a quilt, handmade with love.