by Dave Warner
The Ilion Piecemakers Quilt Guild spent Wednesday hanging their work in the Little Falls Public Library’s gallery room for a show that began on Thursday and will run through September 1st.
Penny Watkins, a member of the group said that they started in 1983 and she has been a member for several years now. “Basically, our quilt guild donates everything, to nursing homes, and even police departments so that when they pick up a child to put them in foster care they have a blanket to take with them.”
She said that the walker bags on display during the show are for the nursing homes. “Everything we do is a community project. ”
Irene Szatao has been in the group since the beginning and she said that they started with just a dozen people. “I really like the idea that we support the veterans as well. To me, that’s the most notable group that we support. We designed red white and blue quilts for them called Quilts of Valor.”
She said that the group created at least 25 quilts for that project, and they were donated to the VA hospital in Syracuse. “They were in the hospital, they served us, and I think that was notable.”
Every couple of years the group also raffles off a quilt to raise money for the local food bank. “That helps us pay for the material, and the batting as well,” said Watkins.
She also said that you’ll see a lot of the same blocks in the quilts on display. “That’s because we had a challenge and everybody made the blocks and we put them together.”
The group gets a lot of their ideas and inspiration from each other, and when they meet, they can work on either personal projects or quilts that will be donated.
Szatao said that many of them make quilts for relatives and friends.
Watkins said that it can be a real challenge when someone comes up with a new block to quilt. “Some of them can be much more intricate. Somebody in the group can make one that’s really interesting, and then everyone in the group wants to make it.”
The group sometimes invites instructors in to teach new patterns. “We hire them to come in and they give us lessons,” she said.
They’ve also brought children in from Johnson Park to show them how to make quilts. Watkins said that the children wanted to learn how to use a sewing machine. “So, we gave them a little basic lesson on it and did some simple quilts that allowed each one of them to take one home at the end of the day.”
She said that some of the children didn’t even have a pillow or pillowcases, so they provided some of those as well. “They all had a smile on their faces because they had a great time,” stated Szatao.
Both women were excited about the response from the children and are looking for ways to continue it in the future.
An average quilt takes about six months to make, but they said a typical donation quilt might take just one day.
The group currently has about 38 members in Ilion and the surrounding area, and if you are interested in joining them, you can find their membership form below the images. The fee to be a member is $20/year and they meet twice a month at the community center in German Flatts.