From pastel pink, blue and green to bright red, orange and yellow, thousands of cloth shapes are sewn together to create an overall breathtaking keepsake.

Every year, members of the New Mexico Quilters Association make a difference in the community by making quilts and donating them to various agencies.

Starting July 20, the quilters association will hold an exhibit at the Harvey House Museum, 104 N. First St. in Belen, where members will be hard at work on their sewing machines. And, almost every Saturday, a special quilting event will occur.

“We want to bring people into the museum. The reason we’re doing this is so people can see what the quilters do. It’s something fun and interesting to show the community. People can come and ask questions,” says Maurine McMillan, NMQA parliamentarian and director of the Harvey House Museum.

“We’re asking local people to bring their family quilts in. Take them out of the closet and come and show them to our members. If people have old fabric, bring it in to make a quilt.”

For six weeks, more than 200 quilts will be made and given to community service organizations such as Head Start and Casa Esperanza. The colorful quilts will be given to cancer patients at UNM Children’s Hospital.

Six-hundred quilts are expected to be made by the end of the year.

Being a member of NMQA is like having an extended family. Socializing is a big part of the cutting and sewing process as members inspire each other to try new things.

Different techniques help members form each new batch of quilts. Everyone is assigned a duty such as cutting fabric and attaching borders.

“New machines make quilting fun,” McMillan says. “It’s nice to see the work you did. Quilts are a joy to make.”

Every year, an amazing work of art, in the form of a Balloon Quilt to be raffled away at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, is created by local groups and a total of 70 NMQA members. The sale of raffle tickets helps raise money for the NMQA, the group’s only major fund-raiser for the entire year.

All of the hot air balloons depicted on the quilt are authentic balloons that have flown in the fiesta. Balloon owners are required to sign a release before the quilters association can reproduce the likeness on the quilt.

Brilliant fabrics are hand- and machine-stitched to create more than 100 balloons and embroidered baskets.

This year’s Balloon Quilt, Morning Glory, depicts a rush of balloons flying high above the Sandia Mountains. In the forefront of the quilt is an adobe house, surrounded by a desert scene, complete with yucca and cactus. The original design is by Louise Lucero.

On a unique note, the 2000 NMQA Balloon Quilt, “Millennium Valley Splendor,” designed by Betty Standiferd, is on display at the Belen Harvey House Museum, thanks to McMillan’s daughter, Michelle of Las Cruces, who won the quilt.

Maurine says she was shocked and thrilled to hear her daughter had the winning ticket out of the nearly 14,000 tickets sold. “Now the quilt is here in Belen for everyone to see.”

This year’s drawing will be held at the Balloon Fiesta Park on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 8:30 a.m., and you do not have to be present to win.

Tickets are $2 each and 3 for $5. They are available at Albu-querque quilt shops, the Belen Harvey House Museum and at the NMQA booth at the fiesta.

To learn more about the NMQA and its community service quilts, stop by the Belen Harvey House Museum.

The museum is open 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Call 861-0581 for information.

Seeing the Quilts

Check out the vast array of calendar events and discover NMQA service opportunities at

Organized in 1974, NMQA is an educational organization whose main purpose is to stimulate a greater interest in quilting. It costs $20 a year to be a member.

Quilting events begin following the opening reception on Saturday, July 20, at 12:30 p.m.

at the Belen Harvey House Museum. Museum hours are 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

For more information, call 861-0581.

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Jennifer Harmon