Bonnie Fiorelli has been quilting for 34 years. Her journey began when she saw a quilt on the porch of an antique store in Cumberland, Rhode Island. The store held quilting lessons and Bonnie joined the class, beginning her lifelong journey with quilting. Bonnie’s passion for the fabric technique became so deep over time that she began offering local quilting classes in 2018. “I love to quilt,” Bonnie said, “It brings me such joy to give someone a quilt that I have made, especially with them in mind. Everything today is geared toward purchasing online or without personal interaction. With a quilt, it says you mean a lot to me after taking the time to quilt something just for you. It’s a personal gesture that is thoughtful.” Bonnie and her family first came to Quechee after a close friend invited them to use his condominium for several days so that she could attend the Vermont Quilt Festival and her husband Bob could golf. “After coming to Quechee on vacations and weekends for ten years, we became full-time about fifteen years ago,” Bonnie said. “I brought my love of quilting with me to our new home.”

Bonnie instructing one of her beginner quiliting students, Joyce Baldwin.

Bonnie found that the Quechee Club Base Lodge was available on Wednesday mornings so she advertised for beginner quilting classes. “I had six students, and we had a great time,” she said. “As my students completed a few quilts, we decided to make an overnight bag just to change things up a bit, and, of course, it was quilted.”

“I enjoy seeing people understanding that they can make a lovely quilt, table runner, and it really is easy,” Bonnie said. “All they need to know is how to turn on their sewing machines, and I’ll teach them the rest.” Teaching gives the Quechee resident great pleasure. “The aha moment when my student understands what I’m telling them really isn’t that hard,” she said. “You just need to look at it one step at a time. The thought that I’m carrying on an art that is several hundred years old is very satisfying.”

Bonnie’s beginner quilters create a table runner in her course.

Indeed, current student Joyce E. Baldwin and veteran Sheryl Hoehner couldn’t be more pleased about participating in Bonnie’s classes. “I am forever grateful that Bonnie appeared in my life,” said Sheryl who discovered the quilting classes in the fall of 2019. “With Bonnie’s help, I’m now hard at work on a memory quilt for my husband. Again, a project over thirty years in the making!”

Decades ago, Joyce took a hand-quilting class and began a sampler using traditional patterns. But she never finished the project and is now hoping to learn how. “I’m also interested in experimenting with more contemporary styles and machine quilting,” said Joyce. “Bonnie’s class is small enough to give everyone individual attention, and she’s a whiz at simplifying instructions and techniques. I’m learning new methods and making friends with my sewing machine.”

Veteran and current student Cathy Paprocki first saw Bonnie’s ad on the Quechee Club calendar in October 2018. “I had a portable sewing machine that I hadn’t used in a very long time, and the table runner shown in her ad looked like something I could do,” she said. “We did both class and independent projects under Bonnie’s expert guidance. One of our most fun projects was a large, quilted tote bag with zipper. I’m so glad I started quilting lessons with Bonnie. Not only did I learn many different styles of quilting, I met other women who were also interested in learning new things and helping each other. A sense of humor also helps when there are days when you’re using your seam ripper more than your machine.”

There are currently five students in Bonnie’s classes that run each Thursday morning from 9-12. She still quilts almost every day and enjoys repairing antique family quilts in her spare time. Her students have enjoyed making memory quilts and t-shirt quilts made from a collection of sporting, dancing, or other collected materials.

“I love all the quilting methods I’ve learned including hand piecing, hand applique, and hand quilting as well as machine piecing and quilting,” Bonnie said. “I feel fortunate to be able to teach new people the joy of creating a family heirloom. Our mantra is: If it’s not fun, we don’t do it! Thankfully, it’s all fun.”

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