Ask Dr. Barb
More fun
Comment or question?
Print editions
« 'This is not the Star-Ledger': Reflections on 20 years with NJ's largest newspaper | Main | Happy Valentine's Day: What's happening to the flowers? »

Harvest Quilters Show 2019: an April 6 showcase of textile art in Scotch Plains

Renate Bieber of Westfield and one of her quilts. She is featured artist for this year's Harvest Quilters' show.Like many quilters, Renate Bieber knows that stitching together pieces of cloth to form a material mosaic can be a meditation. 


In the more than 30 years she has been quilting, it has been not only to sew together patterns and scenes, but to relax.


Community service has been a focal point for Bieber, who was born and raised in Germany and worked as a Foreign Service National at the American Consulate in Munich. She always made time for quilting during a stint as a stay-at-home mom and substitute teacher, and while also volunteering. She has lived for 27 years in Westfield, where she and her husband, Michael, raised three children, now adults.


“I started out making a very traditional baby quilt in 1987, when my first child was born, and that was the path I happily followed for many years,” says Bieber who has made more than 50 quilts over the years. 


About two dozen of her quilts will be among those displayed on April 6 at the 36th annual quilt show of the Harvest Quilters of Central New Jersey. The show, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be at  Willow Grove Presbyterian Church, 1961 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains. (Monthly guild meetings also are held at the church.)


Showcased at the event will be more than 100 hand- and machine-sewn quilts of all skill levels from a variety of age groups. Traditional and art quilts are included, as well as those from the "New Jersey Challenge" competition where quilters were encouraged to incorporate something that reflects the state. Art quilts, wall hangings, table runners, lap- and bed-size quilts can be seen. Story boards tell how and why many of the quilts were created.


The show, "Sharing the Quilts XXXVI," will include quilting demonstrations, presentations and raffles. At 10 a.m.,  award-winning quilter Elsa Hahn will lead a session on American barn quilt painting. At 2:00pm, Dana Balsamo, an American Quilter's Society-certified quilt appraiser, will present "Evaluating your Quilt: Is it a Treasure?" Balsamo, who works with antique and vintage textiles and their conservation through her Princeton company Material Pleasures, also will be available for written quilt appraisals and verbal evaluations. For children, there's a scavenger hunt to locate a variety of motifs on show quilts.


A display of Underground Railroad quilts will explore the folk legend of how quilts in the 1800s may have played a role in the network of escape routes used by fleeing slaves. This is just one way that quilts -- the homespun art of women’s history --  have factored into American lives and the stories of our country’s development, according to show organizers.


Admission is $7 for adults, and $3 for children under age 12. Proceeds will benefiit the guild's charitable and educational efforts. Visit for more information and to download a discount coupon. The quilt show is wheelchair accessible and will bring in vendors as well as a tearoom for lunch and snacks.


Harvest Quilters have been presenting annual quilt shows since 1983. The annual event and monthly meetings provide an opportunity for quilters to mingle and compare techniques while everyone, including the least experienced and beginners, can learn. Those attending the quilt show can ask questions about the quilts from the very members who created them, and they can vote to award ribbons to the quilts they like best.


For Bieber, a 2015 Harvest Quilter’s challenge led to a change in style. For the challenge of creating an art quilt depicting a common idiom, she left tradition behind and stitched “Still Waters Run Deep," an original, three-dimensional water lily-themed design.


The piece won a guild ribbon and, later, first place in the craft category at Union County's Senior Citizens Art Exhibit. It was jury selected for state-level competition. Two of Bieber's other original art quilts, “Poppy Day” and ‘Whirligig,” also placed at the county senior's exhibit. All three quilts will be among those displayed at this year's quilt show. Bieber's work was previously displayed at a Kean University exhibit.


“I enjoy the process of making quilts, giving them as gifts or using them in my daily life,” says Bieber, who grew up in Munich, Germany, where all children learned to knit, crochet and embroider in elementary school. She learned sewing in the upper grades.


Her quilts celebrate family and friend’s birthdays, graduations and weddings. Pieces in her "My Journey" exhibit at the quilt show will demonstrate how fabric selection transformed three quilts made from the same pattern. Her daughter’s Halloween birthday quilt has "spider webs" of sparkling silver thread. Bieber also quilts unique utilitarian items, and on display will be her Challah cover, tea bag caddie, thread catcher and sewing needle case.


A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, she has held numerous positions in the Westfield Chapter of Hadassah, a Jewish women’s service group, of which she was president from 1996 to 1998, and voted Woman of the Year in 1999. After many years of volunteering, she was elected PTO president of McKinley School from 2000 to 2002. Bieber also ran the box office as director of ticket sales for the Westfield Community Players from 2008 to 2017. She has been a Harvest Quilters member since 2005, and serves as the guild's meeting leader and publicity chair.




Several area sewing studios offer classes for those who would like to learn quilting, or expand their skills.


Cultured Expressions: This sewing and quilting Studio at 1417 Main St. in Rahway offers classes, events and quilting-related excursions along with fabrics and supplies. Click on the shop name to get the current class list and more informaton.


Fabricland: The new location of this venerable New Jersey fabric store, now at 270 US Route 22 West in
Greenbrook, features a 2,000-square-foot sewing school, and quilting is always on the class list. The fabric store shares its showroom with the related family business, Metropolitan Window Fashions. Click on the store name for more information.     


Urban Sewciety: This sewing and quilting studio at 307 South Ave. West in Westfield focuses on after-school classes and summer camps, but offers programs for adults, too. The store hosts events and sells unique designer patterns along with fabrics and supplies. Click on the shop name to see the calendar of events and classes. 



Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>