Quilt Guild Makes Donations to Gift of Life Housing and Legacy House
May 18, 2022
When the Block Builders Quilt Guild met on May 10 in the Blaine County Library's Meeting Room, members unveiled their projects completed for Gift of Life Housing and Harold & Carmen Poulsen Legacy Housing. The Block Builders will be donating 26 quilts to these complimentary housing facilities for Great Falls Clinic Hospital and Benefis Hospital patients.
After the meeting was called to order by President Sharon Reed, the sixteen members in attendance listened to a show and tell session. Those who had assembled and sewn quilts for the housing projects each held up her artwork in turn and spoke about the challenges and pleasures in the creative process. Several thanked Katie Frye for the final quilting step in their projects, and a couple commented on the challenge of sewing on flannel or with minky. Frye cheered when Deborah Arriola tossed her a bag of minky and flannel scraps to be used in a future project.
Also known as cuddle fleece, minky is a special type of synthetic, hypo-allergenic plush fabric that is 100% polyester knit. Softer to the touch than fleece, minky is used primarily to make baby blankets and other baby items since the fabric is warm, soft, and resembles fur.
Because it's a knit fabric, minky stretches, a feature which can cause it to be a bit shifty when sewing and cutting. Although the nap adds to the overall plushness, it also increases the sewing challenge and requires a patient technique.
Featuring variations in fabric, pattern, color, and technique, the quilts were as varied as their makers. From NASCAR to patriotic themes, many spoke about using scraps or "using up my stash" to complete their projects. A flannel quilt created by Barb Ranstrom featured a border of prairie points, giving it a unique and decorative edge.
Prairie points are folded triangles made from fabric squares. Besides providing a "quirky and fun" method for binding a quilt, prairie points can be used to decorate table runners, pillows, and tea towels.
Another quilt, designed by Diana Martin, incorporated a fabric with the names of all of the National Parks. Although she worried the quilt might be "too busy" or that she used "too much green fabric," guild members complimented Martin's artistry and what she described as "stitching in the ditch" to attach the quilt's layers.
"Stitching in the ditch" is a technique which involves sewing down the channel of an existing seam (the "ditch") to secure pieces of material in place without the stitches being seen on the outside. By sewing down the seam line in a matching thread color, the stitches are hidden from the outside. In a form of sewing wizardry, the technique creates invisible lines of stitching.
These quilters clearly have a language of their own. Not only through their specialized vocabulary but also through fabric, quilters express themselves. Their projects provide proof that they are adept at manipulating shapes, colors, and patterns to achieve dazzling visual displays that also tell stories.
Funded by generous gifts from people like the Block Builders, Gift of Life Housing and Legacy House provide free, temporary housing to patients and families who need to remain close to a medical facility in Great Falls. Typically, the housing is reserved for patients who live outside Great Falls and are receiving treatment for cancer or another illness, parents who have a child in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), or family members with a loved one who is receiving inpatient or outpatient treatment at either Great Falls Clinic or Benefis Hospital.