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Wainscott Sewing Society Is Stitching Once More

Thu, 10/19/2023 - 12:33

After a 30-year hiatus, the Wainscott Sewing Society is stitching once more

On Tuesday, Barbara Ann Wilson, Joyce Walker, and Mary Petrie, from left, worked on cutting and pressing pieces of the Wainscott Sewing Society’s work in progress, a history quilt.
Christine Sampson

It had been at least 30 years, likely more, since the Wainscott Sewing Society did any actual sewing. That changed earlier this year, when eight members of the group, all with multigenerational ties to the hamlet, took up scissors, needles, and thread once more.

The result is a colorful pinwheel-style quilt, sometimes called a windmill quilt, that was carefully stitched both by hand and machine, and which will be raffled off as a fund-raiser on Nov. 10 at the Wainscott Sewing Society’s annual covered dish dinner. The quilt raffle has generated quite a buzz, selling more than 1,000 tickets to date, said Barbara D’Andrea, the group’s treasurer. “It’s like the Powerball” of Wainscott, she joked.

The sewing society, which was established in 1969, oversees the care and maintenance of the Wainscott Chapel, a historic building that has served as a schoolhouse, a polling site, a wartime Red Cross unit, a wedding venue, a community center, and the longtime meeting place of the hamlet’s Citizens Advisory Committee. It has never actually been commissioned as a church for a particular religious denomination, but there is a bell in the tower. The society recently installed an indoor bathroom to replace the chapel’s working outhouse, thought at the time to be the last such outhouse in East Hampton Town. Today there are 40 members, all of them women; those who live outside of Wainscott may join if they are sponsored by two other members.

From left, Mary Petrie, Barbara D'Andrea, Liz Hedges, Joyce Walker, Barbara Ann Wilson, and Quincy Eggerton displayed the pinwheel quilt they made. Not pictured are Patricia D'Andrea and Tanya Nevins, who also contributed to the quilt. Christine Sampson

 

Sewing is “a little throwback to our ancestors,” said Liz Hedges, a group member. “Learning new things,” like this craft, “has been one of the joys of retirement.”

“It’s a sisterhood,” added Quincy Egginton, a retired art teacher, whose husband, Hersey, is on the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee.

“And it’s about community,” Ms. D’Andrea concluded. “We’ve gotten pretty good at it.”

The sewing group meets for nearly three hours each Tuesday morning at the chapel, where another of the society’s quilts, a hand-sewn creation dating back approximately to the World War I era, hangs inside a protective glass case.

A few of the members had experience with sewing, and some were novices. “I’ve been an artist all my life, and taught art for my whole career, but the precision needed for quilting is very challenging,” Ms. Egginton said. “It’s systematic. All the steps have to be carefully planned out.”

Ms. D’Andrea said they employed an “assembly line”-style process of making the queen-size pinwheel quilt, which took about six months to finish. The Sewing Society had enough extra squares left over to create a baby quilt. That was presented as a gift of appreciation to Carolyn Logan Gluck, the chairwoman of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, who recently became a grandmother.

“I was speechless — beyond touched — to have received so truly special a gift from the quilters of the Sewing Society,” Ms. Logan Gluck said on Tuesday. “Madeleine, my first grandchild, spent most of her waking hours lying upon it, this, her first summer in Wainscott. To me it embodies much of what Wainscott is about: community, generosity of spirit, and love for tradition.”

There’s a touching story, too, about the origin of the fabric the Sewing Society is using. It came from a dear friend of Ms. Hedges, Suzy Tankersly, who lived in Syracuse and visited Long Island’s East End, and who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in April. “She made quilts up until the day. . . ,” Ms. Hedges said, trailing off for a moment before continuing, “She was very gifted. Her husband didn’t know what to do with all this, so he was thrilled for me to take it.”

The pinwheel quilt raffle will take place at the covered dish supper on Nov. 10, at 6 p.m. at the chapel, which is on Wainscott Main Street. Desserts and beverages are provided, but guests prepare dishes to share for dinner. More information, as well as raffle tickets, can be had by calling 631-537-1330 or messaging the group on Facebook.

Next up for the Sewing Society is a history quilt that will “tell the story of Wainscott,” Ms. D’Andrea said, comparing it to similar quilts created by volunteers on North Haven and Montauk. It is to be hung on the chapel wall above the antique quilt’s glass case.

She’s working on squares featuring a windmill and the old general store, which is located at the house on Wainscott Hollow Road where she and her husband, Dennis D’Andrea, live. Joyce Walker is creating a panel featuring a basket of potatoes, with help from Barbara Ann Wilson, whose family for many years owned GNI Motors, the former gas station, car sales, and auto repair business on the highway. Ms. Hedges is creating a farm scene based on a photo that she took “right from my back door,” she said. Ms. Egginton is working on a panel featuring the beach looking toward Kilkare and Georgica Pond, and Ms. Petrie is working on an ocean scene featuring a whale, “since we now have whales off Wainscott!” she said.

“It’s carrying on the tradition,” Ms. Walker said. “Our mothers used to quilt. It’s nice to get back to it.”

“It feels really good,” Ms. D’Andrea said of the group’s return to sewing. “We’re remembering the past, and becoming a part of it.”

 

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