In a year that left so many hanging by a thread, three Bowdoinham women have found a way to come together to turn their needlework into symbols of history through quilting — all while keeping their physical distance.

The quilt that was made during the pandemic by Bowdoinham women Joanne Savoie

What started as three women’s creative idea during the pandemic has turned into a small community project. Nan Curtis, Joanne Savoie, and Betsy Steen said they got the idea from the “Historical Quilt of Bowdoinham 1762 to 1912,” which was made in 2012 to commemorate the town’s 150th year.

“Steen and Curtis were a part of the quilt made in 2012. They often spoke about making the next quilt to celebrate Bowdoinham’s 100 years between 1912 and 2012,” said Joanne Savoie, the organizer, and publicist of the project. “It was an idea they had been mulling over for years. However, we decided to start working on it only in December 2020.”

As many as 29 women and a 10-year-old child were part of this project and the information about the project was spread through word-of-mouth and social media.

The quilt includes 35 square blocks of using leftover fabrics from the 2012 quilt.

“We had saved a lot of material from the last quilt that we had made,” said the historical expert for the project Betsy Steen. “Much to our surprise, we discovered that there was enough material that matched our first quilt. Moreover, whenever there was a need for a specific fabric piece, we always helped each other to see if we had something in our houses.”


According to Steen, it was a great community activity during

Bowdoinham women who took part in making the quilt. Joanne Savoie

the pandemic. “All discussions about the project were held through zoom meetings,” she added.

The technique used to make the quit is called “quilt-as-you-go,” where square blocks are quilted before assembling the full quilt, said Nan Curtis, the quilting expert of the project.

The squares depict important buildings and other historical sites like the green bridge, smelt kitchen, school, farmers market and fire station. A separate square dedicated to “Celebrate Bowdoinham,” a town festival that happens every fall, is also made.

The final product, 35 squares, was joined by strips of black fabric by Curtis in June.

“It’s a painless way to learn about the town’s history for people who don’t naturally go to these places. It was a good way to learn,” said Curtis.


The women are currently creating a quilt book featuring pictures of every single square with information about each quilter who took part in the project.

They are also planning to showcase the quilt at the annual Pine Tree Quilter Guild next year.

However, for now, the quilt will be on display during the “Celebrate Bowdoinham” festival. Later, it will be permanently displayed next to the Bowdoinham historical quilt at the Merrymeeting Hall community center.


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