By: Bill O’Connell
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
If you are looking for something fun and educational to do in the month of March plan a trip to the Fayette Opera House on Main Street in Fayette and look up Ruth Marlett. While the former long-time Fayette mayor will not tell you any jokes, she will leave you in stitches as she walks you through the rooms of this nineteenth century structure where, on display, is the Opera House’s latest exhibit of quilts and quilting.
While not a quilter herself, Ruth can point out the many different types of quilt styles, patterns, methods and stitching techniques that were used as far back as Colonial America and are still used today and provide some of the history behind each piece.
The origin of quilting, it is believed, goes back approximately 1000 years during the time of the first crusade. Soldiers returning from the Middle East brought back a new type of stitching that the Europeans used to make padded under garments that were worn under the armor of Crusaders going into battle.
From there these under garments grew into full-sized coats and finally evolved into the incredible works of art you now see everywhere from baby cribs to craft shows to museums.
“Long ago this is what they (women) did in the winter time. In the summer they were busy canning and planting their gardens, and all that kind of stuff,” said Ruth. “In the winter they did things like this so you would have warmth for your family. They did this for a purpose.”
Along with the practical applications, quilting provided women an outlet for stress, filled the many idle hours of winter and allowed them to express themselves and show their artistic abilities.
Many of the quilts on display at this exhibit are well over 100 years old. Some were designed and made by Ruth’s mother Adeline Wirwahn. Others were pieced and quilted by Carietta Waldron, the mother of the late Fulton County philanthropist Dorothy Biddle who passed away in 2005 at the age of 106. Another interesting piece was stitched by Sarah Abiah Kline Banister who was born in a log cabin in Wauseon during the Civil War.
Quilting is an art form that requires not just talent but discipline and patience as well. It is a piece of Americana that deserves to be admired and appreciated. The exhibit runs until the end of March. Do not miss the opportunity.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at