Handmade quilts have provided a way for Connee Greig to pursue a creative passion while giving back to her community for over 35 years, and now they’ve earned her the title of featured quilter for the 37th Annual Quilt Show hosted by the Flathead Quilters’ Guild.
Though she began making quilts as a way to relax and enjoy herself, her handiwork has become a beacon of comfort for newborn babies, cancer patients, veterans and others in need across the Flathead and beyond.
Many of her custom quilts are made to order for a specific customer or occasion, but much of her work she donates to nonprofit organizations as raffle or auction items or simply to keep others warm.
“I try to give back because it’s a passion that I have,” Greig said. “It’s special to get something handmade.”
Over the years, quilting has become a source of stress relief for Greig, too, cheering her up even on the saddest occasions.
She recalled the time she had to drop her only son off for his first day of college at Montana State University.
Her husband, she said, stopped without even having to ask at every quilting shop they passed on the way home to comfort her.
“I think it’s a peace of mind,” she said of her favorite hobby. “You feel good about yourself.”
She couldn’t guess how many quilts she’s made over the years or how long it takes to finish them, because for her, quilting is not about the numbers.
Equipped with enough fabric to last a lifetime and a determination to finish each piece she starts, she estimated that more than 20 quilts are scattered throughout her home, draped over each bed, across the couch and stacked up in her sewing room.
With a seamstress for a mother, Greig learned some basic sewing skills early on in life and over time, gained an interest first in embroidery and then quilting.
Her first official quilting lessons came from Marj Sanders, a well-known local instructor at Flathead Valley Community College back when the campus was located in downtown Kalispell.
Since then, despite her developed knowledge in the art, Greig has continued to attend forums, lessons and retreats, convinced that you can never know too much when it comes to something you love.
“I read once that if you have a passion for something, you make time for it,” Greig said.
A consistently early riser, she will often spend at least five or 10 minutes in the morning before work finishing seams or connecting squares in her sewing room despite having stayed up past midnight sewing the night before.
Even eating comes second when she’s focused on a quilt.
“For me, when I start sewing, food is the farthest thing from my mind,” Greig said. “It’s a fun addiction.”
When she isn’t sewing in her spare time, Greig works in the noncredit section of FVCC’s continuing education department, where a few of her pieces adorn the walls with splashes of color and intricate patterns.
From co-workers at the college to strangers in local quilt shops, Greig said she can’t help but try to get others involved in her favorite hobby and has become one of the area’s go-to resources for new quilters.
“If you have a good instructor or a patient person to work with, it’s not hard at all,” Greig said. “I think anyone can get into it.”
Greig’s work has been featured in a number of shows and won several awards, including peer choice awards presented by fellow quilters.
This year, the Flathead Quilters’ Guild, of which Greig has been a member for the last 30 years, selected her as the featured artist for the 2018 Quilt Show.
The show will feature more than 20 of Greig’s unique creations among the 160-plus quilts on display at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell.
A portion of the show proceeds will benefit FarmHands Nourish the Flathead and the Collumbia Falls Backpack Enhancement program.
Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21 and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.