News of Otsego County


Quilting Captured Jim Bryden

Jim Bryden, Quilter:

Fabric Arts Captivated Man

With 18 years experience, Jim Bryden, is this year’s featured quilter at
The Major’s Inn Silver Jubilee Quilt Show. The Bargello style quilt behind him uses strips of fabric sewn together to create the appearance of movement. (Jennifer Hill/

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to

GILBERTSVILLE – Jim Bryden is not fazed by the fact he is the first man to be the featured quilter for The Major’s Inn Foundation’s annual quilt show – the 25th anniversary one, no less.

“If they want to put up with me that’s their decision,” the 81-year-old Sidney Center resident said.
About 20 of Bryden’s quilts will be displayed, mostly in a room exclusively for his work, along with 300 others quilts at The Major’s Inn Silver Jubilee show this weekend. And 44 quilters whose work was displayed in the first show in 1994, then called “Butternut Valley Quilts,” will have quilts exhibited in the 25th one.

“All of our quilters at the first show were from Butternuts,” said Diana Heeman, a founder of the quilt show and a long-time foundation volunteer. “But now we have some quilters from far away – Virginia and Maryland.”

Heeman had attended a quilt show in McIntosh, Fla., in the 1990s, and when she returned to Butternuts, she shared her impressions of the show with Cece Rowe, now the foundation’s director. They agreed a quilt show would work well at The Major’s Inn and be a way to raise funds for the inn’s restoration, which has been ongoing since Alan Cleinman, Cleinman Performance Partners’ in Oneonta, began the foundation in 1980.

“We had about 240 quilters in the first show, all from our community,” said Heeman. “It exceeded our expectations.”

About 75 volunteers work to put on the show, which includes hanging and labeling the quilts, making the lunches for the event’s visitors on all three days, and breaking the exhibit down afterward. Rowe curates the exhibit, with her cousin and neighbor Pat Cleinman as her right-hand assistant. “I’m fussy and meticulous,”

Rowe said. “I want each piece to stand on its own and not outshine or be outshined by another one.”
“We’ve kept this a non-juried show,” said Heeman. “We want everyone to feel their quilts are worthy of being shown.”

“Many of the girls at our show are featured in magazines and have won awards at the state and local level,” Heeman said. “They’re very involved with their communities. They make lap quilts for patients in nursing homes and hospitals and raffle them off.”

It is Bryden’s first time exhibiting his quilts at The Major’s Inn event, but they have been displayed in about 25 shows since his foray into quilting 18 years ago. His style – vivid colors often in geometrical patterns on a black background because he wants “people to open their eyes and see it” – has attracted attention locally.

“I just go along with whatever it is, what people want,” said Bryden.

Bryden began quilting the year he retired from his profession as a stone quarry cutter, in 2001. “Doing stonework was getting too rough for me to do in the winter, so I decided to draw my Social Security and live at home that winter,” he recounted. “But a week of being a couch potato didn’t go over very well.”

He asked his wife, Joan, a lifelong quilter, if she would teach him to quilt. Under her tutelage, Bryden cut 6-inch squares and stitched them together, then used an “inside-out” method that does not require using binding for making the quilt.

“If I can do it, anyone can do it,” Bryden said.

The funds raised from the show will go toward renovation of The Major’s Inn.


Fido Fest At Winter Carnival


DOG COMPETITION – 10:30 a.m. Check out the Fido Fest Dog show where dogs and their owners compete for titles in categories like best trick, waggiest tail, and best mirror image. Part of the Winter Carnival Festivities. Pioneer Park, Cooperstown. Info,

WINTERFEST – 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Stay warm and have fun with outdoor activities like sledding, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing,campfires and more. Cost, free. Gilbert Lake State Park, 18 CCC Road, Laurens. Info,

CABIN FEVER FILM SERIES – 6:30 p.m. “The Jungle Book” (1967). Refreshments available with proceeds benefiting Susquehanna animal Shelter. Clark Sports Center, 124 Cty. Hwy. 52, Cooperstown. Info,

Susquehanna Valley Quilters Celebrate 30 Years of Fabric, Fun

Susquehanna Valley Quilters

Mark 30 Years of Fabric, Fun

The ladies of the Susquehanna Valley Quilters gather for a photo before cutting the cake to celebrate the group's 30th birthday this evening at Elm Park Methodist Church. (Ian Austin/
The ladies of the Susquehanna Valley Quilters gather for a photo before cutting the cake to celebrate the group’s 30th birthday this evening at Elm Park Methodist Church. (Ian Austin/


Barbara Blanchard shows off the Sunbonnet Sue quilt her class made for her. (Ian Austin/
Barbara Blanchard shows off the Sunbonnet Sue quilt her class made for her. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – In 1986, a handful of women gathered to form the Susquehanna Valley Quilters and share their love of fabric craft.

“We got together and decided there was going to be a quilting renaissance,” said Debby Clough, who helped start the original group. “I started quilting in 1976, and it didn’t matter what we were working on. I was at a table surrounded by women, and I was happy.”

Now with 85 members, the SVQ celebrated their 30th birthday tonight with games, a slideshow of ephemera, a cake, hand-quilted caddy mugs for all the members present and plenty of memories. Quilting has even continued in recent years with people continuing to preserve memories with something similar to this memorystitch tshirt blanket.

“When I was president, I taught a class on Sunbonnet Sues,” said Barb Blanchard. “At the end of my term, everyone gave me a quilt with all their Sue squares in it!”

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