By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Quilts of many colors displayed at Patricks

They hang in the general store, colorful pieces of fabric stitched together by an artist.

Some are made using patterns created by grandmothers, great-grandmothers and those who came before; some are designed by the quilter, a self-professed quilting addict who would rather cut, piece, pin and sew fabric together than eat.

The quilts are so beautiful, in fact, they caught the eye of a set design buyer working on the recent NBC movie, Coat of Many Colors.

Victor A. Sandoval, a set design buyer for the film, had only come to the store for burlap bags, said Jan Patrick, the quilt artist. The minute he crossed the threshold of Patrick’s Feed and Seed in Covington, however, he whipped out his phone and called set designer Gia Grosso.

“Victor said, ‘You have got to come see this,’” Patrick repeated. “When she [Grosso] came in, she asked who did the quilts.”

As soon as Grosso found out, she commissioned 10 quilts from Patrick.

The movie, Coat of Many Colors is based on a song written and performed by Dolly Parton about her early childhood in the Smoky Mountains. It is the first of four films made for NBC based on Parton’s songs. Coat of Many Colors (1971) will be followed by Jolene (1973), The Seeker (1975) and Here You Come Again (1971).

Scenes in the film were shot at Gaithers Plantation in Newton County and The Little Store in Downtown Covington.

NBC movie well-received

Patrick said she had no idea what network would be broadcasting the film, thinking it was some small, relatively unknown channel. “I didn’t find out how big it was until I made the quilts.”

The film premiered on NBC on Dec. 10. According to Variety, it drew an audience of over 13 million viewers, “the biggest crowd for an original movie on television since 2011.”

The two most visible quilts in the film, Patrick said, were a large, traditional string quilt, named for the long strips of fabric, the strings, and a small wall hanging of a cross designed by Patrick. The latter hung over the piano in the church scenes.

There are three other wall hangings just visible in the church scenes, Patrick said, though she doubted many other people noticed them. Though barely visible, she said she could see most of her remaining quilts.

Patrick’s Feed and Seed Store supplied more than the quilts, Patrick said. Grosso also used the price board hanging above the store’s check out area. Used by the store, which had been opened by Patrick’s father-in-law, E. L. “Pat” Patrick, in 1948, the price board was one of the few things that survived the 1959 fire that burned the original store down.

“The price board was against the wall,” Patrick said. “The wall fell in [during the fire] and covered the board, though some of the edges got singed.

Not only did the board survive, but the writing in chalk listing items for sale and prices also survived, she said. “The board is very authentic.

“People actually come by [the store] to see the price board,” she said. Set designer Grosso also used a “truck load” of the store’s displays, Patrick said, “some we didn’t even remember having.”

Learning from friends

Six of the 10 quilts made for the movie are on display at Patrick’s Feed and Seed Store. Four were purchased by the production company to be used for promotion. Though none of the quilts on display at Patrick’s Feed and Seed are for sale, Patrick said she will make quilts of the same designs people can buy. She will also design new quilts at people’s request.

People also bring her projects to complete.

“There are quilt tops a grandmother might have pieced,” she said. “They may bring in fabric has been part of their children’s clothing or belonging to someone who has passed.

“If you were to bring a quilt top your grandmother made, you can actually feel that person [when you’re quilting it],” she said. “And it’s wonderful to see peoples’ faces when you give it back. They come alive.”

Making a quilt top takes her between two day and 3 weeks, sometimes longer. After the top is completed, a layer of batting is sandwiched between the quilt top and a bottom layer. Most quilters chose a muslin or inexpensive cotton to back the quilt top. Patrick uses colorful fabrics because, she said, she wants both sides of the quilt to be beautiful.

Once the three pieces are pinned together, the actual quilting begins. Patrick will hand quilt, mostly for friends and family, but usually uses a Gammill Longarm Quilting Machine. The four-foot-by-two-foot fabric remains stationary as the quilter hand guides the machine, stitching together the layers of fabric with thread, like drawing lines, whorls and curlicues with a sewing needle.

Many quilts tell stories

Patrick said many of her quilts reflect the person she creates it for. For example, one of the quilts hanging at the store has panels of horses connected by a field of blue and white fabric with stars at each corner. The quilt, she said, memorialized a pair of beloved horses owned by a friend.

Another quilt, made with reproduction 1930s fabric, reminded Patrick of her aunt, who always wore aprons made of similar color and design. Still another was a tribute to her grandmother, made of fabric almost identical to clothing the older woman wore. Still another, pieced into blue, lavendar and turquoise six-pointed stars on a white field, was a memory of a trip taken to the Caribbean.

Patrick not only makes quilts, she teaches quilting at the feed store. “I like teaching beginners,” she said. “They haven’t developed bad habits. It’ll be fun for them and easier if they learn the right way to quilt.

“Everyone was a beginner at one time,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. That doesn’t mean you can’t  always learn more or won’t make mistakes. Every quilter teaches you something different.”

She learned the craft from friends and employees. Before that, she had been an avid fan of cross-stitch. Patrick’s Feed and Seed had a cross-stitch section, which sold supplies for doing the needlework.

Employees encouraged her to try quilting when making cross-stitch items became difficult. “Those of us who were cross stitching [at the time] had reached an age where we couldn’t see very well.”

So she tried quilting. That was over 20 years ago, and she hasn’t looked back. The cross-stitch section of Patrick’s Feed and Seed was replaced by a quilting supply department.

“Quilting is very addictive. When you give a person a quilt, the immediately start hugging it and feeling it. “There’s something about a quilt that makes you feel the love the person who made it has for you.”