Laura Jones discusses quilting’s legacy in WNC

HALL OF WONDERS: The Bonclarken Conference Center in Flat Rock will again host the WNC Quilters Guild's A Garden of Quilts Show, Friday, May 17-Saturday, May 18. Photo by Dawn Sorrento

From adult coloring books to planking, fads come and go. But practical, rewarding crafts like quilting have shown that they’re here to stay.

Founded in 1982 and based in Hendersonville, the nonprofit Western North Carolina Quilters Guild features quilters of all skill levels and promotes all forms of quilting, including traditional, modern and art. Its members are currently preparing for the annual two-day quilt show extravaganza, A Garden of Quilts, which this year takes place Friday, May 17-Saturday, May 18, at the Bonclarken Conference Center’s Youth Activities Building in Flat Rock.

Taking a break from her sewing machine, group President Laura Jones recently spoke with Xpress about the continuing allure of the craft and how the guild strives to stay modern while sustaining tried-and-true practices.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Xpress: How did you become a quilter, and what has sustained your interest in this craft?

Jones: I have been quilting since childhood. My mother and both of my grandmothers were quilters, and I was raised stitching alongside them. I’ve always enjoyed having a creative outlet that results in something both functional and beautiful.

When I got to a point in my life when I had more time for quilting and wanted to increase my skill, I turned to the WNC Quilters Guild for support. Quilting offers a wide range of techniques, so even the most seasoned artists can find something fresh and interesting at guild meetings.

How long have you been guild president, and what does that role entail?

I was elected guild president in January 2023, and I will complete my two-year term in December. It’s a six-year commitment, starting with two years as vice president, learning the ropes, and ending with two years as emeritus, acting as an adviser.

My focus has been on welcoming new quilters and bringing our membership totals back to pre-COVID-19 pandemic numbers. We were also due for some housekeeping with our policies and technology updates. As the president, I lead meetings and help usher in new initiatives.

What do you consider the guild’s most significant milestones over its four-plus decades?

The guild has provided Western North Carolina with a consistent creative community since 1982. We bring quilting to the public with our biannual shows, demonstrations at the Mountain State Fair and other outreach programs through the community. We also sponsor a yearly scholarship for [Henderson or Transylvania County] students going to college in textile-related fields.

How has the guild been able to sustain membership in recent years?

Quilting has been growing in popularity in recent years, and the guild offers a community for both new and seasoned individuals. We offer programs with nationally known speakers reaching a broad range of expertise and interest.

Why does quilting remain such an appealing craft for so many people?

Quilting speaks to the nostalgia and urge to create that so many of us feel. With new, modern fabrics and patterns popping up all of the time, we can make things that are traditional and also current.

What are some of the main challenges the guild is facing as a nonprofit?

Our main challenge is finding volunteers for all of the jobs that need tending through the year. All of our positions are unpaid, and some take considerable time commitments.

What does the guild have in store for this year’s A Garden of Quilts show?

The Garden of Quilts show will display the handiwork of our membership and other local quilters, including young adults. We will host a number of vendors and a shop with sewing and quilted items for sale. There will be food and drink available and knowledgable docents answering questions on the floor.

What are the guild’s main goals for the rest of 2024?

Our goals are to carry on providing our members with exceptional programs and workshops to spark interest and build skill. We will also be working on updating our website and other issues relating to technology. Most of all, we hope to continue to provide a welcoming guild for quilters.

To learn more, visit


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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