Sandra Abbott (left) and Claire Bellmond hold up a baby quilt for the Pregnancy Outreach Program.

Sandra Abbott (left) and Claire Bellmond hold up a baby quilt for the Pregnancy Outreach Program.

Quilting for a cause great therapy

The Senior Stitchers stitch together more than quilts during their weekly meetings.

The Senior Stitchers stitch together more than quilts during their weekly meetings.

They meet every Tuesday from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m. finishing with a cup of tea upstairs gathered around a table.

They help to keep the Seniors’ Activity Centre maintained, learn new skills, and enjoy some camaraderie away from everyday chores.

As Adriana Calabrese says, “It’s therapy.”

Everybody is in agreement with that!

“It keeps us out of mischief and gets us out of the house,” adds Sandra Abbott.

Gladys Paulson and Claire Bellmond say the Senior Stitchers and the Seniors’ Activity Centre in general has been a great place to meet new friends and enjoy some new activities.

The Senior Stitchers have been making quilts in the basement of the centre for many years and are thrilled that their little workroom was made larger this past summer thanks to the support of the centre’s board and a group of volunteers lead by Rod Voth who did the construction.

“The only expense was for the construction materials,” Bellmond says.

Enjoying their hobby and each other’s company isn’t their only reward.

The quilters take pride in knowing their work is supporting several good causes. They make baby quilts for the Pregnancy Outreach Program, which are given to newborns in the community.

They make lap quilts to keep residents at Deni House warm and cosy in their wheelchairs.

And they make two large quilts each year which are raffled to raise funds to help with the upkeep of the Seniors’ Activity Centre.

“It’s a worthwhile cause,” Bellmond says.

The Old Age Pensioners Organization (OAPO) runs the raffle and in turn donates the funds to the Seniors’ Activity Centre, says Floris Martineau.

Over many years that they have been operating, the Senior Stitchers have raised thousands of dollars for the Seniors’ Activity Centre, so it was with great delight that the stitchers learned that the expansion of their quilting room would be among the renovations and upgrades taking place at the centre last summer.

In addition to enlarging the room to double its size, adding more storage and working space. Renovations included a design wall covered with a fabric that the stitchers can put up their fabric design plans without using pins, a piecing table and lots of storage for the fabric, thread and other materials.

The renovation included replacing the carpet on the floor with lino. The lino makes it much easier to clean up dropped pins and bits of thread and fabric produced in the quilting process.

The room is equipped with two sewing machines, you can bring your own if you wish, and two quilting frames, for hand quilting.

The quilts that are raffled off are all hand quilted.

A quilt is comprised of the flimsy, or patterned top that we see, the lining or warm batting in the middle and the cover or backing on the other side.

The stitchers only use cotton fabric for their quilts, because it makes a nice sharp edge when ironed and breaths nicely which makes for a more comfortable quilt.

The OAPO also gives the group a few hundred dollars a year for thread and some items such as the batting that they may need to make the quilts, but all of the fabric material they use for their community projects is donated.

Sandra Abbott makes hand written labels using a fabric pen for the back of every quilt they make for donation or charitable fundraising.

The Senior Stitchers label lets people know that they have something special from a community group that cares and has a passion for quilting.

“It’s an obsession you know,” Bellmond. “Anyone is welcome to join us.”

Paulson adds: “It’s a great way to meet new friends. You need little or no experience in quilting, just a desire to create something special.