Homemade quilts are somewhat magic. They often tell a story as they are hand-stitched with love and patience. A sense of calm, woven deep into the fabric, is often felt once the quilt is wrapped around one’s shoulders as troubles seem to melt away.
Each month, a group of women gather in Stallion Springs to harness this magic, knowing the power the quilts have on those in distress. Each year for the past decade, they churn out anywhere from 600 to 800 handcrafted quilts and deliver them to the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles where they are given to patients.
The women represent a portion of the Tehachapi Mountain Quilt Guild, and once called their creations Philanthropic Quilts.
“But it got to where one of our gals couldn't spell philanthropic, so we became Comfort Quilts,” said Nancy Dubie, one of the guild’s longest members along with Beve Bemis.
The idea to create children's quilts started when a child relative of a former guild member was diagnosed with cancer. She began making quilts for the Children’s Hospital. When other quilt guild members learned what she was doing for young patients, they decided to help her. Each November, she would travel to the hospital with 100 handmade quilts to donate.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Dubie. “The hospital has about 300 children at any given time, all with different types of illnesses.”
Some of the quilts are simple; some are not so simple. The easy pattern quilt tops can be made during one monthly meeting. The ones that are a little bit more complicated can take longer.
“It’s a group effort” said Roxanna Flint.
Assembling the pre-made kits is Monica Colella. Other members check out the kits from Colella, then put the quilt tops together after which other members will complete the quilts by attaching the backing and binding.
Said Dubie, “We have a wonderful time getting together. It doesn't matter how long we have been quilting; whenever we get together, we learn new things from each other.”
Flint is in charge of keeping track of the finished quilts, and decides which ones are most appropriate considering gender, age and need.
“We try to take as many quilts as possible because we found out that we are the only guild that donates to children's quilts in Los Angeles County," Flint said.
Most of the fabric for the quilts is donated by a woman in Camarillo, all but the backing. The quilt guild raises money for the backing by hosting quilt shows, which they do once every two years.
Currently, the quilters have 111 completed quilts on hand, not including the ones waiting to be bound and labeled.
Said Colella, “One year, we were able to take down 200 quilts, which was an awesome year. Last year, we took down 150 quilts. This year, depending on the health of our wonderful sewers and volunteers, we are hoping to take at least 100 to 125.”
No matter how fast they turn out the handmade Comfort Quilts, the other guild members say they remain in awe of the ones created by Frosti Acord.
Said Colella, “She is amazing, and makes the most fabulous quilts.”
Acord's quilts are considered to be the special ones, and are given to children who need a little extra comfort.
Said Flint, “They get super excited when they know that we are coming with quilts.”
Last year, 574 Comfort Quilts were distributed, which includes quilts created by their friendship group, From the Heart, whose members contribute to the guild's count for quilts which they donate to the Shriner's Hospital.
In addition to the quilts made for children, guild members create bereavement quilts, which are given to family members who have lost a loved one. They have also given their quilts to clients of the Family Life Pregnancy Center, victims of the mudslide and recent fires and clients of the Senior Center.
Said Dubie, “We try to keep as many local as we can. Anybody who has a child who is in distress, we try to make sure they get something.”
The Stallion Springs Police Department also carried two quilts in the trunks of patrol cars for a while, and officers would give them to children who had to be removed from homes.
Said Flint, “We are going to try to continue our efforts each year. It’s pretty important, and we do as much as we can.”
New members are always welcome to join monthly meetings, and beginners are welcome as well as the quilters are always willing to show you the ropes.
The Tehachapi Mountain Quilt Guild meets normally on the first Monday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Bear Valley Springs Church Hall, located at 26180 Plateau Way in Bear Valley Springs. Comfort Quilts meets the third Monday of the month at Stallion Springs Community Church, 18151 St. Andrews Drive in Stallion Springs.
Fabric donations of 100 percent cotton are also welcomed.
For more information, contact Robyn Woodhouse, president, at firstname.lastname@example.org.