Hamilton resident Betty Gauld won best of show for her quilt at the Western Montana Fair last week.
The stunning queen-sized hand-stitched quilt called “Our Montana” has appliquéd and embroidered squares full of easily recognizable scenes of Montana – the capitol, Flathead Lake, Granite Park Chalet, the University of Montana, St. Mary’s Mission, Makishika State Park (dinosaurs), Gallatin River and St. Mary’s Lake. There are some personal squares depicting Gauld’s home in Missoula and family members on a sail boat. The colorful, detailed squares are surrounded with deep sapphire-blue sashing and bordered with print fabric of the state flower: bitterroots.
“Our Montana” was made as a gift for her son and took five years to complete. Gauld said she designs each block making two drawings of each – one is cut up to use as a pattern the other as a reminder of where to place each piece for sewing. She then embellishes each square with fancy embroidery stitches.
Gauld, a 92-year-old resident of Sapphire Lutheran Homes in Hamilton, was surprised that she won best of show at the Western Montana Fair.
“I didn’t think people would like it that well,” she said. “I liked it, but it isn’t put together with a lot of pieces all matching or anything like that.”
Gauld’s son made the trip to Missoula with her to see it on display during the fair. When she collected the quilt she was surprised that there was prize money.
“The best of show ribbon comes with a three-dollars premium,” she said proudly.
The first quilt she ever made was when she was 32, which means she has quilted for 60 years. She belonged to the Missoula Quilt Guild, although she doesn’t attend their meetings anymore.
“They meet at night and that’s a troubling thing because I don’t want to be driving around at night and get run over,” she said.
Gauld has made many quilts and has a scrapbook full of photos. She has given away most of the quilts to family and friends.
Race cars, dolls, baby quilts, a fan quilt from taffeta, church bazaar quilts, a sports quilt with a ball on each square, Sun Bonnet Sue, pinwheels, diamonds, the Olympics and more.
“I copied program covers from the Olympics,” she said. “I thought they were interesting covers. They made an in interesting quilt.”
Gauld won best of show for a quilt in 1983, and again in 2003. She has received quite a few blue ribbons but doesn’t count those awards for much.
“Once you get best of show you want them all,” she said.
Gauld has photos of her quilting friends and a special one of when she was quilting with her sister, but she said the most special quilting memory is when she gave “Our Montana” to her son.
“He’s kind of a macho guy, and I had it on the bed and I showed it to him and he looked it over and took its picture,” she said. “That was the best. He really liked it.”
Gauld was a stenographer for the Forest Service before she was married, before she had children and before she started quilting.
She is nearly half done with a second version of “Our Montana,” for her daughter this time.
Gauld said, “I quilt because it’s just fun to do.”