‘Quilts are just big, warm hugs’ says Alberni quilter

The Sunshine Quilters are part of the Days With the Arts weekend of studio tours, happening April 16–17.

Shirley Bone of the Sunshine Quilters works on a split 9 patch patterned quilt that the group will sell to raise funds for supplies.

Entering the craft room at Echo Centre on a Wednesday morning when the Sunshine Quilters have taken over the space is a colourful affair—both literally and figuratively.

Sewing machines, some of them glossy black Singers circa the early 1900s dominate the giant craft tables. One end is delegated to cutting and measuring, and there is usually an ironing board set up at the back of the room for pressing. Members—sometimes as many as 20—have fabric projects in various stages of completion, some of them demanding hand-stitching, some of them awaiting the machines.

The conversation is just as colourful as the projects, and members admit the quilting group is as much about the social aspect as it is about sewing.

The Sunshine Quilters are part of the Days With the Arts weekend of studio tours, happening April 16–17. They will be set up in the lobby at Echo Centre with examples of their work. Members will also be on hand to answer any questions; some of them will bring along current pieces that need hand stitching.

“Quilts are just big, warm hugs,” says Barbara Smith, who has been with the Sunshine Quilters since the club’s inception 11 years ago. “There’s so much to quilting: so many techniques and so many things you can do. There’s always more.”

Hand pieces, crazy quilts, art quilts, handwork, appliqué (15 different types)—and the list goes on, she says.

“When you start you kind of get obsessed. You will turn into a fabric-holic.”

The quilters often work on group projects, such as Christmas-themed placemats that were donated to Meals on Wheels for their clients last December, or quilts donated to charities for fundraising. Some members, like Shirley Bone, create their own quilts for donation.

Bone has donated quilts to the SPCA, Special Olympics and the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock for fundraising. She started quilting 10 years ago when she retired, and says she loves watching the colours of a quilt pull together. She often creates two quilts of the same pattern, only using varying colours.

Bone has been with the Sunshine Quilters for 10 years and is a regular at the Wednesday morning gatherings. “I like to see what other people are doing, get ideas for myself,” she says. “We get together and help each other.”

The Sunshine Quilters meet every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Craftroom A at Echo Centre. The club is open to all Sunshine Club members with an interest in sewing. Please call 250-723-2181 for more information.


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