The Wetaskiwin Quilters Group is a social organization, but the love of quilting is the reason approximately 18 ladies have been meeting twice a month since 1999 to share their passion. As well as making and donating 50-80 quilts per year (depending on the year), the Quilters also make several monetary donations yearly to various deserving organizations. The fortunate recipients in 2014 are the ALS Society of Alberta, Kids with Cancer Society and the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin. The quilts displayed in the attached picture are designated for the ‘Little Warriors Project’.
“The donations are possible because of the love of quilting and dedication of our members,” explained Eileen Elligott. “We host a quilt show and a quilt raffle every two years to make these (monetary donations) possible.”
Eileen, Joyce Blackwell, Betty Ohman and Joyce Berger reminisced about the ‘old days’ of quilting. When layers of fabric are joined together by the running of stitches through the three layers of material, it became known as quilting. Years ago quilts were made from ‘carded’ bats of sheep wool (insulation layer) layered between two layers of cloth, usually cotton, because as the Quilters explained, “It is a material that is easy to work with and wears well.” The three layers were stretched on a wooden frame and ladies would gather to hand stitch the layers into a quilt.
Today, most quilts are made with an upper fabric layer, quilted to a layer of microfleece. The quilters sew together smaller pieces of fabric into a larger patchwork ‘block’ of fabric. A series of blocks are assembled into a large, decorative piece of artwork which becomes the top of the quilt. The blocks are often joined by plain fabric strips.
Quilts are often associated with important life events such as marriage, the birth of a child or a family member or close friend leaving home. The considerable time and effort required to make a quilt is cherished by those who are fortunate enough to be gifted with a one on that special occasion.
Quilts are timeless treasures of art so cherished they are handed down through generations. Modern quilts are not always intended for use as bedding, and may be used as wall hangings, table runners or decorations on couches and chairs.
Mrs. Elligott reminisces how involved quilting can be. “When we moved into our new condo I took charge of having the basement developed. The contractor I hired couldn’t believe I needed such a big room for a sewing room. If I could have had my way I would have had them put the wall one or two studs further.” She describes her warmth for the hobby. “I especially really enjoy making baby quilts. And when the mother receives it, I really enjoy her reaction. I think all of us really enjoy making quilts and quilted items for Long Term Care because we know they are in need of them and they really appreciate them.” She laughingly added, “You never know when we will be up there.”
Over the years, the recreation enjoyed by the Wetaskiwin quilters has evolved into providing comfort through quilt donations, as well as monetary support for various needs in and around the community. The list of grateful recipients from the Group has included:
• Long Term Care, Wetaskiwin Hospital (quilts).
• Teen Moms Program, run by the local Health Unit (quilts).
• Wetaskiwin Ginger Bread and Glitter (raffle quilts for their auctions).
• Wetaskiwin Meals On Wheels Program (place mats).
• Wetaskiwin Hospital Ladies Auxiliary (quilts for their auctions).
• Wetaskiwin Health Foundation, Women’s Health (cash donation).
• Wetaskiwin Habitat for Humanity (celebration quilts for each home). • Wetaskiwin & District Victim Services (cash donation).
• Wetaskiwin Good Shepherd Lutheran Home (Respite Room quilt).
• Compassion House, a facility in Edmonton for recovering breast cancer patients (quilts).
• Quilts of Valour, an across Canada organization distributing quilts to wounded soldiers.
• Wetaskiwin New Year’s Babies (quilts).
• Wetaskiwin Operation Christmas Child (cash donation).
• STARS, Edmonton Base (cash donation).
• Help for a young blind man raising funds, by sewing beverage jackets (Edmonton Stollery Hospital).
• Wetaskiwin Secret Santa (cash donation).
And now, the Boys and Girls Club, ALS Society, Kids with Cancer and the Little Warriors Project are added to the extensive list.
Fortunately in Wetaskiwin there is a group of quilt lovers whose devoted interest in quilts will continue to pass their love for this pastime on to future generations. Those patches of fabric, the stitches and the multitude of quilts and cash donations the Wetaskiwin Quilters Group distribute to fortunate recipients are all symbolic of their friendship and love for others. For more info, contact Eileen Elligott at 780.352.3746.
Pictured: Joyce Berger, Joyce Blackwell and Betty Ohman Display the donation given to the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin. Photo by Barry McDonald