COQUILLE — A common quilting quote goes like this: A quilt will warm your body and comfort your soul.
That saying could not be more true for quilters from the Coquille Valley Art Association and Bandon who joined forces to help people who lost their homes to California's deadly wildfires this year. Both groups routinely meet and donate their works to local groups in need.
A label attached to most of the quilts that reads, "Made especially for you by your friends in Coos County, Oregon," is shown on one of the qu…
But this time, it was different.
Stitch by stitch and block by block, the women traded stories, traded fabric and traded projects to finish more than 100 quilts in a month that will be hand-delivered to the Oroville Hope Center in Butte County, California, in time for Christmas. Many of the Camp Fire wildfire victims are having trouble finding housing as some of the coldest winter months arrive.
Truly, the quilters took on a labor of love.
"I think all of us are just driven," quilter Kathy Chambers said. She, like many others, stayed up until the wee hours of the night, piecing together colorful fabric to make the quilt tops, adding the batting between the top and the backing, adding sashing and binding and, finally, the quilting part: those detailed stitching designs that set off the entire quilt. "It's seldom you can do something that really matters," she said.
Concerned their contributions could be easily dismissed in the flood of food and clothing donations, the quilters diligently made calls and connected with the right officials so their creations would go to people in need.
The quilters met at the Coquille Valley Art Center on Wednesday to put the final touches on the quilts. As they pinned together blocks, bound the quilts, cut stray threads, added labels and quilted the projects, they also admired their work. The pile of quilts grew, as exclamations of, "Oh, I love that panel!" and "Look at those colors!" and "I just love that design!" filled the room.
Quilter Diane Follansbee pins a quilt top at the Coquille Valley Art Center on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. She and other quilters from Coos Coun…
"I don't think we have a loser in the bunch," quilter Carol Todd said, looking at the craftsmanship of all the quilts.
The CVAA quilters, with about 25 members, usually gather on Wednesdays at the Coquille Valley Art Center to trade tips, talk about projects and work on their quilts. Two long rows of tables at the art center are filled with piles of fabric, thread, and sewing machines humming. For this project, they added extra work parties on Tuesdays. Many took projects home to work on.
The effort was the brainchild of Rochelle Wiese, of the Coquille quilt group. The first email she sent out to other members, asking if there was any interest in the project, was in mid-November.
"It came together really fast," quilter Margaret Frontella said.
A month later, the women had assembled the quilts that range in size from small, for infants, to queen size. The quillters dug into their private stashes of fabric and thread, cleaning out their closets and shelves. After all, what quilter doesn't have a stash of fabric just waiting to be used?
"We're using as much of Rochelle's fabric stash as possible," quilter Diane Follansbee said, laughing.
Other friends and community members also contributed to the project. Roughly $1,800 in donations went to buying batting, backing fabric, thread and cutting tools. The quilters used coupons and the good will of some stores to score deals on batting that would have been twice as much otherwise.
A detail shot of one of the quilts made by Coquille Valley Art Association quilters for California wildfire victims shows the intricate quilti…
"We opted for the good stuff," Wiese said of the cotton batting they procured. "It should last quite a while."
The quilters also accepted blocks and quilt tops from the Bandon, Ore., group of quilters. Each quilt assembled from scratch includes a label that reads, "Made especially for you by your friends in Coos County, Oregon."
Donors included both private citizens and local companies. Kathy Phillips, Carol Stange, Pat Weaver, Sarah Miller, the Coquille Rotary, Banner Bank, Coos-Curry Electric, and First Community Credit Union made it possible for the women to buy fabric, batting and thread.