Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quilters give away 80 quilts


In an increasingly fast-paced world where nearly anything can be purchased at a nearby shopping mall or with the click of a computer mouse, making a quilt from scratch may seem to many a time-consuming hobby better left to automated sewing machines.
But for the nearly 300 members of the Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara and Goleta, simply swiping a credit card for a quilt cannot replace the satisfaction of seeing something through from start to finish.

“The idea that you decorated it, you picked out the colors, you stitched it up and every stitch is your own is invaluable,” said Linda Sepulveda, a longtime member of the Quilters Guild.
The only thing that can top making the quilt, however, is giving it away once finished.
That’s where the true mission of the Quilters Guild comes into play. Tonight at 7, Quilters Guild members will donate 80 quilts to Transition House, a local nonprofit that serves homeless families.
Each year the Quilters Guild chooses a community group to donate to. A couple of years ago quilts were donated to Hospice of Santa Barbara, which were then given to people suffering from terminal illness. Last year, guild members made 300 small quilts for the local chapter of Project Linus, which gave the quilts to children.
Since its inception in 1988, Quilters Guild members have valiantly attended the group’s monthly meetings, where speakers from throughout the country are often featured.
Marty Frolli said the guild grew from a small group of women who would meet each month to discuss quilting at the Goleta Public Library.
She said it was her who brought up the idea of organizing the guild, charging dues and booking speakers.
“As soon as we started doing that we began attracting people to the guild,” she said.
Now guild members have a modest library of quilting related books that can be checked out for a month at a time, and the speakers are a staple at each meeting.
Frolli, who teachers an adult education quilting class three days per week at Santa Barbara City College, said making a quilt can take anywhere from a weekend to several years, and once finished, are nearly impossible to make money off of unless they break into the realm of fine art, as many do.
“They say it’s coming off the bed and going on the walls,” she said. “You cannot make money making traditional quilts because people won’t spend the money.”
Frolli said a small quilt made for a baby could cost anywhere from $50 to $100 in materials alone. So when people see a $1,000 price tag for a king-sized quilt, they go to Wal-Mart.
For Frolli and many other members of the guild, quilting is more than a labor of love; it’s a passion that has tied the good and bad moments of their lives together.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Frolli said she came upon emergency vehicles in a Santa Barbara street aiding a man of Middle Eastern descent who had been beaten by passersby.
As she sat in her home later that night contemplating the incident, Frolli said she did what she always does when times of stress arise, and began making a quilt. By the end of the night, she’d made an American flag. Frolli’s sister, a Maryland doctor, said if she wanted to make several of the flags, she’d make sure they’d be given to people impacted by the attack on the Pentagon.
Frolli got the guild involved and before they knew it, more than 1,100 American flag quilts were made. She said every family that lost a loved one in the Pentagon attack received a quilt, as did every family that lost a New York City firefighter.
“The project escalated,” she said. “I still get mail from that. People are still thanking me.”
Sepulveda said her most recently completed quilt was started by her late sister more than seven months ago.
Sepulveda’s sister died of breast cancer while working on the quilt, which would have been her second and was to be auctioned off to benefit cancer research.
After her sister died, Sepulveda said she took the next seven months completing the quilt, which will be auctioned off just as her sister wanted.
Sepulveda is one of the many guild members who doesn’t fit inside the box of the stereotypical quilter. She’s a doctor at a Los Angeles hospital where she treats patients with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“It’s a hobby that takes me away from what I do and provides me with gratification in another way,” she said. “It’s an art form.”
Though not a member of the guild, yet, Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum said her grandmother taught her to quilt and she’s loved doing it ever since.
Aside from watching her three grandchildren sleep on the quilts she’s made for them, Blum said quilting gives her a satisfaction of seeing things through that politics doesn’t always offer.
“I wish I could spend more time doing it,” she said. “I love coming up with a product when you get done.”
Frolli said a fellow quilter once said she enjoyed quilting because it is one of the few things in life that don’t unravel.
“Things are always coming undone but with a quilt you can put together this creative, beautiful masterpiece and it doesn’t come undone,” she said. “You just get to enjoy it and be comforted by it.”
More information about the guild is available at

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