When the annual Delta Quilters Guild Quilt Show opens at the Brentwood Community Center Saturday, Aug. 17, the work of local quilter Julie Bretz will be featured along with 180 quilts expected to be on display.
This is the first year the guild has featured an individual quilter, and as a past guild president and the winner of the guild’s best-in-show award for the last two years, Bretz was an obvious choice.
“Julie is our featured quilter,” said Mary Black of the Delta Quilters Guild. “First of all, she exports every type of quilting. She enjoys all of it. She just does it all. She’s a beautiful quilter, and she’s always willing to share with everybody what she’s learned.”
Sharing her knowledge comes naturally for Bretz. A resident of Brentwood since 1976, she’s a retired educator who spent her career teaching in the Livermore area. Bretz has sewed most of her life, and got her start as a child when she found her $12 monthly clothing allowance didn’t go very far. Bretz was introduced to quilting nearly 30 years ago.
“In 1990, I visited a friend who had just made a little wall hanging,” explained Bretz. “I looked at that and said, ‘I want to learn how to do that.’ I started quilting, and I haven’t stopped.”
The quilting process is comprised of two separate activities, said Bretz. Piecing is the process of creating the top of the quilt, while quilting involves stitching of the top piece to the back, with batting sandwiched in between. The weight of the batting determines how warm a quilt will be, and Bretz said, in the past, old wool blankets were sometimes used as batting. The top, back and batting are often sent to a commercial operation to complete the quilting on what’s known as a longarm machine, though the process can be done on a sewing machine, or even by hand.
“I kind of decided I will machine-quilt smaller quilts, up to twin size,” Bretz said. “If it’s much larger than that — like a queen size — I will generally send it out and pay somebody to do it. It’s a lot cheaper than buying the (longarm) machine.”
True to her roots as a teacher, Bretz taught her mother to quilt, reversing the traditional process through which the skill is handed down from one generation to the next.
“At the age of 70, I started teaching my mom how to quilt — kind of like the tables were turned,” said Bretz. “She became quite an avid quilter. At her funeral 18 years later, there were quilts everywhere. That was a really special time.”
The Delta Quilters Guild Quilt Show will run Saturday, Aug. 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors to the show on Saturday will have a place to store their farmers market purchases while they browse through the displays. Awards will be determined solely by the votes submitted by visitors, who are encouraged to cast votes for as many quilts as they like. Raffle tickets will be on sale, with prizes including an opportunity quilt, Disney admission tickets and a sewing machine. Admission to the show is $10, good for both days of the event. Visitors under age 8 and over 80 are admitted for free.
“Our theme this year is ‘Journey of the Quilter,’” said Black. “So we have a display on beginning quilts — first quilts — by many of our members. We also are incorporating a presentation this year of quilts honoring veterans, which we do through our guild. We make quilts for local veterans. We typically present one to two per month to local veterans. We’re going to present four quilts on Saturday at 2 p.m. It’s going to be great. The VFW color guard will be there. We’ll have a really nice presentation. That’s added this year.”
In addition to donating quilts to local veterans, the guild also makes quilts for children staying at Shepherd’s Gate and fidget quilts for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Funds raised during the event will help pay for the materials to support these donations.