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Patchwork Promotion

Bolatto goes all out to spread word about quilt show

MARSEILLES, Ill. — What do you get when you combine a profusion of spare fabric, a full-size SUV and one really ambitious quilter?

Hint: It’s sitting in Carole Bolatto’s driveway.

“Isn’t it crazy?” Bolatto says, pointing at her Chevy Tahoe. “You don’t see something like that everyday.”

In front of her house, perched above the sloping roads that abound near the Illinois River, she shows off her quilted SUV, which she made to advertise her group — the Pieces from the Heart Quilt Guild in Morris — and its upcoming March quilt show — Quilting in the Country.

Bolatto, the publicity chairman of the Quilt Guild, got the idea from a picture of a quilted-Volkswagen she saw in a magazine. She brought the idea to her club as a promotional idea.

“I just said, ‘I want to cover my Tahoe with a quilt,’” Bolatto says.

The quilt is comprised of more than 500 “orphan” fabric blocks, several buttons, and about 40-hours of hard work, undertaken during one week in the dog-days of late summer last year.

“I didn’t know how I was going to do it,” Bolatto says. “It was a challenge.”

Bolatto took up quilting just over 30 years ago, but, she says, she’s been sewing “forever.”

“If I see something, I can make it,” she says.

She’s undertaken some intricate projects before — she made her own prom dress in high school, and, more recently, has created a “barn quilt” that hangs from the top of the shed on her property.

But this was different. There’s no template for quilting over a vehicle, especially such a big one. So she had to create one.

First, members of the Quilt Guild donated extra fabric blocks to Bolatto. Then, using newsprint, she created cut-outs of every section of the vehicle. After that, it was just a matter of putting it all together.

“I tried to use something from everyone in the group,” she says.

She finished the cover in early September and took it out for Dwight’s Harvest Days parade and Coal City’s Octoberfest parade.

“It was fun seeing everyone’s reaction to it,” she says. “It made everybody smile.”

According to Bolatto, the quilted-Tahoe caught the attention of everybody — from fellow quilters to young guys, a demographic one doesn’t typically associate with quilting. One man, she says, half-jokingly asked her if she’d quilt a cover for his motor home.

“It really catches your eye,” she said.

At the quilt show, slated for Chapin’s East in Minooka on March 22 and 23, Bolatto will present a new piece. But there is a special reverence she has for the Tahoe-cover, “the most challenging quilt” she’s made.

“It was a fun project,” she says. “I felt like I did something that was different.”

And she hopes that it will draw people to the Quilt Guild and Quilting in the Country.

“If you think this is good, you should see the quilts at the show,” she said.


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