By Dottie Dewberry
For the WPT
“A quilt is something you make to keep someone you love warm.”
To understand why some people make quilts is to understand that we all march to the beat of a different drummer. Jimmy Fulgham is such a person; the beat goes on and so does he. He has filled his life with a variety of projects that keeps him focused on living life to the fullest; his newest but lasting project is his quilting.
His story goes back to the military when he was processed at the VA hospital. He received a quilt called the Quilt of Valor, which was donated by a quilting guild that has given away more than 800 quilts to soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers suffering from PTSD. Most of the quilts were done in red, white and blue; this gave Jimmy the kick start that he needed to revalidate his interest in quilting.
When asked when he first got into quilting, he replied that his mother, Judy Hunt Fulgham, let him cut pieces for each square. When sewn into the pattern it eventually makes a block, when added to other blocks it makes the quilt top. As he grew older, she let him sew the pieces together using the machine.
Since his first quilt that was called the Fence Row, he has made many for family members. His most recent one, the Double Wedding Ring, was made for his brother Danny, who recently got married. He made one for his son Travis; one for his daughter Julie, one for his Aunt Kathy Horton and one for his granddaughter Paislee.
From the simplest task in quilting, he has moved from established patterns to designing some of his own. He saw the pattern he did for his granddaughter on YouTube; it has a design of raised flowers in the blocks.
Back in the day when he was into doing magic shows, he designed a quilt where each block looked like a hand of cards. Jimmy says that he used to perform magic routines for birthday parties, for family reunions, and for schools on Career Day. Once when he found out that a child named Hunter from Mathiston wanted to meet him, he did a show for the child at his home. Later Jimmy had his grandmother mail all of his magic paraphernalia to the child for Christmas.
One of his quilt projects used neckties to form the blocks. Jimmy says that the ties are taken apart, ironed, cut to fit the pattern and sewn together. The block looks like strips of neckties that form a square that is sewn into another square until the completed block is formed. This particular quilt is only four blocks wide by six blocks long. It took 40 ties to make this throw quilt.
He says he goes to Lowe’s to he gets his Plexiglas templates cut. Then he used a rotary cutter to cut the pieces.
He was happy to say that eight years ago his children gave him a sewing machine; now he has a Janome sewing machine that will sew 1,600 stitches per minute. That’s pretty fast, I think.
When I asked him if he used a traditional quilting frame, he replied that he used a large hoop. When asked why he did not use the more traditional frame, he informed me that to purchase a long arm quilting frame that they range in price from $1,000 to $8,000s. He did say that he could build one but what he has works just fine.
The blocks that make up the quilt of Jimmy’s life include his family, his friends, the military, his magic shows, the special-needs children, gardening, some traveling and quilting for those he loves, and especially in memory of his mother, who died at the age of 47 of cancer. I love you, Momma.