Meet Sacramento's quilting ladies whose quilts are given to help the needy keep warm during the cold nights.
Tags:How Quilting Can Help People in Need,american quilting,craft tips,kvie,quilt making,quilting history america,quilting sacramento,quilts for the homeless,quilts for the needy,quilts for the poor
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How Quilting Can Help People in Need
Host: To most people a quilt is just something to keep them warm but there’s a lot more to this centuries old art a quilt can take anywhere from days to years to make. But without ceremony this small army of quilters will donate that time and their quilts to people they’ll never meet.
They were invented for warmth, but what makes this textile different from others, is that behind the quilt top, batting and backing, you can learn a lot about community service, our county’s history, our families and friendship.
Shirley Duncan: Well the camaraderie of the people with whom you’re quilting, and the bonds of friendship that are--
Shirley Duncan: Priceless, exactly. Its sisterhood you know there’s something there.
Host: And that something has brought the ladies in the River City Quilters Guild together every Thursday for the past 20-plus years. Most of the quilts they make will be given away. Some to charity; and some will be passed down, as a piece of family history.
Lila Erl: My grandmothers both quilted and my mother quilted, and so it’s been something that’s as long as I can remember, that there were quilts being made.
Host: It’s because of this tradition that you literally find history stitched into quilts. By the mid 1800s they were subtly telling America’s stories. Quilts were made to reflect the Civil War, and the famed quilter Harriet Powers used a needle and thread to show the strength of her faith in a time of slavery. And California’s history can also be found in quilts.
Shelly Atkinson: Well quilts, they’re not just functional or pretty to look at, but quilts actually tell stories about women who created them.
Host: An exhibit at the California Museum highlights quilts made by California pioneers.
Shelly Atkinson: For us to understand what women were doing in that time we’re now looking at their quilts because they sewed their stories into their quilts.
Host: Some quilts represent political beliefs.
Shelly Atkinson: We do know that the pattern was used to signify the Whig Party.
Host: And others give hints to what their families must’ve been like.
Shelly Atkinson: Well the log cabin quilt is used to signify the pioneers that were heading west most of the time they have a red square in the middle to signify the hearth of the home, and how important the home is to the family. Also it has some Civil War butternut in it, so a mans uniform from the Civil War was cut up and put into this quilt, so it gives you a sense of what the family was like these are records of women’s lives.
Host: They capture people’s lives, in both times of happiness and loss. And people have often turned to quilt-making to cope during difficult periods.
Lila Erl: It’s very therapeutic actually you can forget about a lot of bad things when you’re quilting.
Host: In Davis you can see examples of coping close up in an exhibit called Honor the Fallen. Mothers and friends of soldiers around the country have created these panels for a traveling quilt, honoring American servicemen and women who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Quilts help people, in some cases to remember and in other cases it’s more basic. When community service organizations told the ladies people were in need, they brought quilts.
Lila Erl: “Dear ladies, this thank you note is long, long over due but do want you to know how much my triplet boys have enjoyed your lovely baby quilts.”
Host: And in return the ladies get letters like these.
Lila Erl: “I dearly love it thank you for making such a lovely thing for people like me. I am 72 years old, homeless in Sacramento.”
Host: All thankful.
Lila Erl: “I’ve become really attached to it and I can’t sleep without it.”
Host: For getting a quilt when they might’ve needed one most.
Lila Erl: “My daughter experienced a seizure; it turned into the worst experience of our life. We received your beautiful and loving blanket at the most crucial times of our lives. It brought tears to my eyes, I was so touching and I can and I can’t thank you enough.”
Host: And that’s why the ladies in the River City Quilters Guild, along with nearly every quilting guild in the country make community service a priority.
Shelly Atkinson We delivered those quilts and it was mountaintop experience, it was a -- I don’t know what kind of words to call it, but it’s something that we will never ever forget.
Lila Erl: We would give them the quilt and this is what you would see.
Shelly Atkinson: Well it makes us all feel that it’s a project that is, so worthwhile that so many people do appreciate it.
Host: It’s appreciated as both an art and a craft. And for much more than just a way to keep warm. And as long as they keep meaning things like family, community and friendship, these ladies will keep meeting, every Thursday, to make more quilts.