It’s easy to assume that all the quilters in West Texas are women old enough to collect social security. However, the treasurer of the Abilene Quilters Guild is a millennial who has entered several quilts in the upcoming 23rd Annual Stars Over Abilene Regional Quilt Show.
“A lot of people tell me, ‘Oh! You’re a quilter!’,” laughed Jud Beall.
The 32-year-old male quilter does stand out in the guild. But he said there’s actually a large community of male quilters online. He has learned that people understand it takes a lot of patience to make a quilt, regardless of who you are.
“They know that it takes hours and hours,” Beall said. “So a lot of people really appreciate that whether you’re male or female, 32 years old or 82 years old.”
Beall said quilting has seen an explosion of popularity in the past decade thanks to activity online. Tutorials on YouTube, hashtags on Instagram and pages on Facebook have made it more fun for beginners to pick up quilting as a hobby.
He got started 18 months ago while visiting his aunt’s quilt shop in Early.
“I learned that quilters use patterns,” Beall said. “I didn’t even know that, I just thought quilters came up with all these amazing designs.”
So he decided to give it a try. He used precut pieces of fabric and put them together with a machine. Then he passed his handiwork over to a professional long-arm quilter to complete the stitching. That first quilt has become a comfort blanket for his six-year-old son.
Next he tried cutting up his own fabric, which he found to be more enjoyable.
“I’m working on a quilt right now that is almost 2500 individual pieces of fabric, it’s kind of like a puzzle to put it back together,” Beall said. “It’s relaxing but at the same time it challenges my brain.”
His goal is to become a better quilter so that he can rent time on a the long-arm machines to complete the stitching himself instead of relying on a professional. Being in the Abilene Quilter’s Guild has allowed him to learn about a variety of techniques from guest speakers. He's also learned that he gravitates toward modern fabrics and styles instead of the traditional quilting patterns.
“Another reason why I love quilting is you never have two quilts that are the same,” Beall said. “When you come to the quilt show, every quilt is going to be different and it’s fascinating because there’s going to be quilts that are 100 years old and quilts that are ten days old.”