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Scouts patch pride into quilt

(ran PW, PS editions)

It's mid-January, and the big meeting room is a soft flurry of activity. Twenty members of Girl Scout Junior Troop 63, Indian Echo Neighborhood, are putting the finishing touches on the big, bright quilt they're making for the West Pasco Quilters' Guild show in three weeks.

"I sewed two squares together on the sewing machine," said a proud Mandy Nagy, 9, as she sucked at a needle prick she had just made in her pointing finger while quilting her name tag.

"I stuck myself about eight times," she added, with a little grimace.

All the needle pricks and hours of sewing will probably be forgotten when the quilt is displayed as part of the big "Sew Many Quilts 2000" show this Saturday and Sunday at the Veterans Memorial Park center, 14333 Hicks Road, Hudson. Exhibit hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $4.

The two days will be packed with exhibits of quilted items and a variety of activities.

"We have four fashion shows planned and seven demonstrations in the two days," said Marsha White, publicity chairwoman for the quilters' group. Those in the fashion show will wear quilted items such as vests, skirts and jackets.

Dozens of full-sized and baby quilts made by the group's 269 members will be the centerpiece of the show. In addition, a traveling show of quilts from the national Hoffman Challenge competition will be hung around the walls; a boutique filled with small quilted items will be open; and quilting teachers will give short lessons in stitching techniques. The quilters will hold a silent auction of small quilts to raise funds for the Friends of the Park.

"This is very popular, since the participants can go home with a small quilt of their own," Ms. White said.

More than 1,500 people attended the guild's last quilt show in 1998, Ms. White said.

"Many of our members have years of quality experience to their credit, and quite a few have received public recognition and acclaim in many parts of the United States," she said. "We are pleased to present what will be a first class show."

The Girl Scouts' quilt was started in October, when the scouts and members of the guild met at the recreation center to plan their schedule of work. Guild members Kathy Hill and Ellen DeIntinis, who are chairwomen of the show, asked the girls, ages 8 to 10, to draw blocks for a quilt. Five weeks later, guild members brought sewing machines and helped the scouts put the blocks together.

The quilting sessions were just part of the project. Since the scouts were also working on their Textiles and Fibers badges, they also studied pictures and samples of other quilts and types of sewing, such as embroidery, applique and ornamental quilting.

Girls from seven different schools helped put the quilt together, said troop leader Lisa Peary, who has been with the troop for two years.

The "Sew Many Quilts" show also is a contest for the adult quilters. The judge is Katharine Stubbs Ward of Riviera Beach, an award-winning quilter who was named the 1996 Teacher of the Year by Professional Quilter Magazine.

All the quilts in the show are either machine or hand stitched (no tied quilts) and all are owned or made by the guild members, Ms. White said. Some will be for sale.

"We are a very active and enthusiastic quilting group," Ms. White said. "We work with the community by supplying quilts for the police, nursing homes, day care centers, food drives, baby showers for local organizations that need assistance for future mothers."

A popular part of the show is Merchants Mall, a row of booths with items from five area stores with quilting materials.

The show's featured event is the "Kimono Collection," which is several entries and winners from the Hoffman Challenge's traveling quilting exhibit. Those who entered incorporated two yards of a muted floral pattern called Les Jardins Collection from the Hoffman California Fabric line into their quilted pieces.