Charlotte Harkey has a three-ring binder chock-full of diagrams, pictures and news clippings about quilting. But the binder also is a journal of sorts, documenting a project to which she has dedicated many years.
In January, Harkey put the finishing touches on a quilt she’s been making on and off since 1999.
“Most quilters want to start a project and have it done, and I want to take it easy, like a nice trip or a nice movie or something,” Harkey said. “I want to enjoy the ride.”
She bought as a reference “Dear Jane: The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt,” a book by Brenda Manges Papadakis.
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Stickle was a Vermont woman who made an impressive quilt during the Civil War, completing it in 1863. The quilt is noteworthy for its variety of colors and designs and reflection of that historical period, according to the website of the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vt., which houses the original quilt.
“I figured if Jane could do it in 1863, I could do it,” Harkey said. “I could figure it out.”
Harkey used diagrams, patterns, pictures and other information, but not comprehensive written instructions in making her own quilt.
With all its squares, rectangles and triangles, the quilt required geometry ability as well as sewing skills. “That lady was smart. Just think where she’d be today,” Harkey said of Stickle.
Quilters in countries throughout the world have become interested in the Jane Stickle quilt, according to the website www.dearjane.com.
What inspires these quilters? “They want that little piece of history,” Harkey said.
Versions made by other quilters could look different, depending on the fabrics chosen, she said. She likes traditional fabrics.
Harkey, 69, lives in an unincorporated part of Union County. She helps operate Quilt Patch Fabrics, a quilting supply store in Stallings she co-owns.
She made progress on her Jane Stickle quilt whenever she had spare time, including at quilting retreats and in a group she formed with other women who meet monthly to work on their quilts modeled after the Stickle quilt.
Several men’s shirts purchased from a thrift store provided some of the material for the quilt; they just happened to be the right colors.
The quilt consists of three layers: the top, the wool batting in the middle that lends warmth and plushness, and the backing. Harkey enlisted Kay Giese to use a long-arm quilting machine to attach the layers.
Harkey first learned to sew at age 13, producing her own clothes from flour sacks. She had training from an aunt she visited in Oklahoma during the summers.
When she isn’t quilting, she can be found riding her motorcycle and rescuing feral cats.
Hope Yancey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Hope? Email
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Harkey’s quilt can be viewed at the Charlotte Quilters’ Guild annual show March 13-14 at the Metrolina Tradeshow Expo in Charlotte, and at the Matthews Alive festival in September.
For information on the original Jane Stickle quilt, visit ww.benningtonmuseum.org and use the search box.