Grapevine Quilters of Mendocino County

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Community quilting group in Ukiah reaching out to help

By KAREN RIFKIN
UPDATED:   12/19/2012 11:52:47 PM PST
for Ukiah Daily Journal

"As the one who is in charge of public relations for the Grapevine Quilters Guild, it is my job to let other people catch the vision that there is a need and that the heart of our guild is to give."

- Hayde Christopher

Grapevine Quilters of Mendocino County is a group of 80 women who come together regularly for educational and philanthropic purposes. They have sewing days when internationally known quilters such as Deb Karasik and Laura Fogg come to teach their specialties. Many members are drawn in for personal reasons -- a quilt for a new baby or an ailing relative -- and stay to work on donation quilt projects destined for local charities at home, soldiers returning from abroad and orphanages in other countries.

Hayde Christopher, in charge of public relations, wants to get the word out to the community. She says, "Our main heart mission is to provide every child in our county who is in need with a fabric hug, a quilt. We have workshops and sewing days where we get together at Calvary Way Church or the Elks Lodge to sew personal and community quilts. Our classes and events are open to the public and anyone can join and participate at any level."

Many of the donation quilts, some of which are currently on display at Momma's Café on State Street, go toward children in need. Recipients might include a premature baby in the hospital, a child receiving Child Protective Services, or a family at Project Sanctuary. Christopher says their goal this year is to fill the cupboards at CPS so that every child who comes in will receive a quilt. They also donate to the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort and Toys for Tots.

"When our teachers visit they will do what's called a trunk show. They bring suitcases full of lovely quilts and teach techniques like paper piecing and sewing curves. They bring their own special line of fabric and their own patterns and we learn how to sew what they have created. Anyone who wants to, skilled or not, can come and participate on an open quilt day. There is always something to do to help: ironing, hand cutting and stitching or machine sewing. We can always teach you what needs to be done," encourages Christopher.

The community quilts go to private people in need, as well. Individual family members received quilts after their house burned down and a woman who adopted two preemies into foster care was a recipient. Quilts for fundraisers were given to Relay for Life and River Oak Charter School. They look to see where there is a need.

Christopher says, "Every quilt has a story as does every quilter. People get into this for different reasons. Some people were brought up sewing and quilting, taught by their mothers and grandmothers. Others want to learn how to quilt to make gifts for their children or grandchildren. For me it was about my son who was going to Afghanistan; he asked me to make a quilt. I knew how to sew but this was a whole different thing, so I took a class and got it done just before he shipped out."

Members of the guild take cot-sized quilts to Travis Air Force Base and Camp Pendleton for wounded soldiers returning home; quilts were sent to Haiti after the earthquake; Sue Gowan takes quilts to an orphanage in Mexico; and every year at Christmas time they make sure each of the single mothers enrolled in the parenting program at Ukiah High receives a quilt.

"You become captivated by all the colors and the fabrics, your store room is bulging and all that material has to go somewhere. We are constantly in the process of making quilts. People find out what we are doing and they initially join for personal creations; then it moves into altruism. It helps us all connect to our community."

Personal quilts are on display in the library through January; community quilts are at Momma's Café for the month of December; and doll size quilts to be donated to Toys for Tots will be on display in April at Ukiah Natural Foods.

If you know of someone in need, want to participate or have material to donate, you can contact the guild at [email protected] or on Facebook.