Betty Axtell is a quilter. If you didn’t apperceive it to start, you’d amount it out the minute you saw her bed-making room. Bolts of bright t band up in cases, bags of cut t delay in absolute curve aing to the bed-making apparatus and a assemblage of bright artificial barometer templates is at the ready.
“I alone started piecing the squares calm with a bed-making apparatus in 2003,” said the baby Axtell, 80. “Before that, I did aggregate by hand. I started adornment in 1976 back my two daughters-in-law were pregnant. One of those accouchement is now the ancestor of my aboriginal great-grandson.”
She’s got a “Kissing Kitties” batt bankrupt and accessible to mail to the newborn. That adolescent joins Axtell’s four great-granddaughters, all of whom accustomed quilts back they were born. Betty gives her quilts to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and charities.
Two years ago she began entering her quilts in the Napa Boondocks and Country Fair, and has already won abundant dejected ribbons. In 2005, she won Best of Show for her “Many Trips About the World” quilt, which was all duke pieced. This is fabricated the added arresting by the actuality that there are 4,757 dejected and chicken pieces in the quilt. She has three entered this year in the fair, which opens Aug. 8.
“I started adornment back I capital to buy a bifold bells arena batt and begin out that you pay $700 to $900 for one. I absitively to accomplish one.”
The circuitous arrangement is one she has yet to master, although she’s fabricated about 50 added quilts in patterns with names such as “Double Irish Chain,” “Kaleidoscope” and “Flower Garden.”
“My mother was a quilter and all three of my sisters are quilters,” said Axtell. “I started bed-making my own clothes back I was 13. I acclimated a Singer treadle bed-making machine.”
She said she doesn’t accept a admired pattern. “I like affective on and proving I can do it.”
Her admired batt has red blocks in a “Sunshine and Shadow” pattern. Why is that her favorite?
“Because I had a home economics abecedary who said I had too abundant blush in my face and I could never abrasion red. I like to rebel.”
Depending on the admeasurement and complexity, she can accomplish a batt top in as little as a week. She has abounding quilts about her abode in all stages of completion.
“When I was duke piecing, I could maybe accomplish three a year. I didn’t use the bed-making apparatus until four years ago because I could never get them to about-face out precisely. Then I abstruse about rotary cutting, a annular brand on a wheel. If you do it right, you can use the bed-making machine.”
She duke binds the quilts, duke sews labels to the backs of the quilts with advice about back it was disconnected calm and duke sews a sleeve at the top of the batt for displaying.
Axtell was built-in in North Dakota and confused to California in 1951.
“My bedmate and I acclimated to drive through Napa on our way to Clearlake and we anticipation it was a beautiful, quiet town. We confused actuality in 1954 back they opened apartment in Pueblo Park. We put a $500 bottomward acquittal on the house.”
The brace confused to Hagen Road in 1968 and lived in a abode congenital in 1890. They had three acreage of land.
“My bedmate capital to bulb vines,” said Axtell. “I told him you can’t eat vines, so we buried angel copse and awash apples.”
She says adornment is adequate and she generally will batt during the night back she can’t sleep. Her quilts are all fabricated of cotton, which she pre-washes so the colors won’t run if it’s done already the batt is assembled.
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Helen Sexton, buyer of Helen’s Apparatus Adornment in Napa, is a able longarm apparatus quilter. She takes Axtell’s batt acme and quilts them, sandwiching batting amid the top and basal pieces, application a appropriate bed-making machine. Her adornment designs run from busy to simple, depending on the piece.
“Each of Betty’s quilts is a beauteous allotment of art,” said Sexton. “There’s annihilation like seeing it up on the wall. She does huge pieces. Betty’s points, seams and bindings are perfect. She doesn’t accept to block the accomplished batt because it’s consistently the absolute shape. What’s additionally amazing is she has boxes of amateurish projects. Back I say I accept an amateurish project, I beggarly I haven’t cut the t yet, but Betty will accept 20 or 30 blocks already sewn together.”
Axtell recommends that anyone absorbed in starting this ability booty a class. Expenses depend on the t chosen, and accoutrement accommodate a bed-making machine, rotary cutter and a appropriate mat.
Her quilts are ornate, bright and complex. She could accomplish a lot of money if she awash them.
“No. I’d never accede selling,” said Axtell. “That would aloof booty the fun away.”
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