Quilt show blankets Sisters with fun, art, tradition

More than 1,400 quilts, 1,600 quilters gather

Sisters Quilt Show ready to go

SISTERS, Ore. - More than 1,401 quilts and 1,600 quilters have made their way into Central Oregon, specifically Sisters, for the 39th annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

Nearly 40 years ago, it all started with a few quilts that were handed down to a woman named Jean Wells and her sister. They wanted to show people their quilts and showcase the hard work put into them, rather than let them just lay around the house.

Quickly, their family quilts grew to other family quilts, and the show-and-tell grew into a tradition.

"We've been coming here for 32 years, actually," said Karen Aase, who was joined by her daughter and granddaughter.

"Everybody in our family has a quilt from the quilt show," Aase said Tuesday.

Like the Aase family, the quilt tradition is stitched in our history. But over time, the quilts themselves have changed.

"You know people, say about our quilt show that it's not your grandmother's quilts anymore," said Jeanette Pilak, the show's executive director.

That's because quilts now are made for much more than comfort or warmth. They are made as pieces of art. With techniques and applications evolving everyday.

This year's show has 1,401 quilts, made by quilters over and under the age of 18, by men and women. They range in size from large to small to patches. They also come in almost any theme you could imagine.

The show is the biggest of its kind in the world. But to residents in Sisters, it's just a show that happens every year at this time.

"Every second Saturday in July, you just know it's quilt show and you sort of just pitch in and help," said Jillian Zepeda of the Stichin' Post. "It sort of brings the community together."

"In the 1880s, when the little church or hardware store burned down, it was the quilters who got together to raffle off a quilt to raise money to help," Pilak said.

For centuries, patch by patch, quilters have been piecing communities together.

"More generations are coming, so we hope they come for years to come," Aase said.

And come they will, to give back to a community of quilters and appreciate their craft.

Learn much more about it at

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