When members of the East Pasco Quilt Guild come together, it’s more than a meeting about the best pattern to quilt, or best fabric to buy or best colors to use.
It’s a club where members get a chance to showcase their creativity, catch up with each other and share their enthusiasm for a pastime they cherish.
The guild’s meetings, which last about two hours, generally feature a chance to learn a few new things about quilting.
The gathering, held on the second Monday evening of the month, also gives club members a chance to show off quilts they’ve completed, to encourage each other and share what they know about various techniques.
Club members have at least one thing in common: A passion for creating quilts.
During a recent conversation with a half-dozen club members, it soon became clear that these women absolutely adore cutting fabric into pieces and then stitching it back together again.
Of course, their finished projects look nothing like the bolts of fabric they started with.
Club member Jane Hancock has been quilting for about 40 years.
“My grandmother taught me to sew, and so we come from a long line of quilters and seamstresses,” she said.
“I was sewing with my grandmother when I was probably 5 and was in 4H, and won lots of trophies and ribbons and all that for my sewing. And, it just kind of morphed into quilting,” Hancock said.
Kelli Boles said she began with hand-piecing, then moved up to machine piecing and now is long-arm quilting, which involves using a large machine and is the final step in sandwiching a quilt together.
Many quilters piece together the quilt tops and then have someone else, such as Boles, handle the final step of attaching the quilt top to its backing.
In fact, Boles recently completed that chore for Susan Anderson, another member of the club.
Boles couldn’t wait to show Anderson the final result, and when she did, Anderson’s eyes brimmed with tears of joy.
“I just love sewing,” Anderson said. “I just love the sound of the machine. It just has a nice rhythm to it.
She adores making quilts.
“I love all of it: Cutting the pieces, picking out the fabric, the whole process,” she said.
She began sewing as a young girl— making crude doll clothes for her Barbie doll. Next, she graduated to making her own school clothes.
“I made my first quilt when I was in the eighth grade for Home Ec,” she said, using a cardboard template for her squares.
Another club member, Susan Weick, said she began quilting about 35 years ago when she was living in New York.
“My neighbor taught me. She taught me hand-stitching. We used to just go have coffee and doughnuts, and sit and stitch,” she said. “I learned through her critiquing,” Weick said.
She was an exacting teacher, and a good one, Weick added. “Everything had to be perfect.”
Club member Ginny Lane said she enjoys making all sorts of quilts, from quilts small enough for a baby to those large enough to cover a king-size bed.
Sandi Morgan, who is Kelli’s mom, began quilting nearly a half-century ago.
Her grandmother, who was a tailor, taught her to sew when she was about 9.
In her family, sewing skills skipped a generation.
“My mother, bless her heart, couldn’t sew a button on anything,” Morgan said, with a good-natured laugh.
From making simple squares, Morgan’s quilting interests and abilities have broadened. In fact, she now works at Quilts on Plum Lane in downtown Dade City, and Anderson works there, too.
Using thread and fabric to make new memories
Quilting provides a way to become absorbed in both the art and act of creation, escaping from life’s everyday stress and worries, the women said.
Quilting is history, too, Hancock said. She has some quilt tops made by her mother and her aunts, dating back to the 1920s. She intends to have them quilted and then to give them as wedding gifts to her children. Thus, these family heirlooms will pass from one generation, to another, to another.
Being part of the guild also offers ample opportunities to give back to the community, too, members said.
The guild routinely gives a quilt when someone moves into a Habitat for Humanity house.
They also make a quilt for Saint Anthony Catholic School each year, starting the quilt with a piece of fabric from a school uniform. The school auctions off the quilt to raise money.
They give a quilt to Pioneer Florida Museum & Heritage Village each year, and one to a local organization. Tickets are sold for the opportunity to win each of the quilts, with proceeds benefiting those groups.
Club members also make quilted Christmas stockings, which are given to various charities, and they make quilts to give to veterans.
The club, which incorporated a decade ago, has about 60 members.
It welcomes anyone, but so far there has been just one male member, and he stopped coming.
It’s open to anyone interested in quilting, whether accomplished or not. And, young members can join, too, but those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.
The club has two shows each year. One show is at the annual Kumquat Festival in Dade City and the other one is at Farm Fest at the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village.
Beyond sharing a common interest in quilting, members also share a common interest in each other, they said.
“It’s more than just a club. It’s a group of people who truly care about each other, and are there for each other,” Hancock said.
She experienced the depth of that caring when her world turned upside down.
“My husband was killed a little over two years ago and, man, did they rally,” Hancock said.
“He was riding his bicycle, and he was killed on Lake Iola Road and, man, within minutes this one was there with tons of food. These were there with support. They just wrap their arms around you and envelope you,” she said.
Published August 1, 2018