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The Bluewater Quilters’ Guild Outreach Program is furiously stitching up 27 quilts to fill a request from Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce. These beautiful handmade patchwork quilts will be given to the family members of the new home owners.

BWQG2As Rachelle MacKenzie, Business Manager for Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce put it, “For many years our Habitat Families have been very fortunate to receive quilts from the Bluewater Quilters’ Guild. The quilts are such a great gift to begin the new chapter of their life as a homeowner. The look on the children’s faces as they receive their bright colourful quilts is priceless. Habitat families are always very grateful to receive the quilts as the amount of work that goes into them is quite evident.”

The Guild, formed 32 years ago, only started keeping detailed records of all the quilts they give away in 2016, but in less than three years over 370 have gone to worthy causes! Carol Seaman, one of the three founding members, explained, “Quilters love what they make and are always happy to share their creations. From Baby Love Baskets to Quilts for Vets, we try to keep everyone in need of a hug, covered.”

BWQG3Community service is at the heart of the Guild’s workshop location, Pauline’s Place, across from Grey Fair on the main street in Owen Sound, as observed on a recent Thursday visit. One small room stocked shelves brimming with colour-sorted fabric donated by individuals and the area’s supportive fabric stores. Another room harboured a large cutting surface and more bins full of fabric cut to standard sizes. A hand-quilting frame was positioned by the storefront window to provide light to the quilters working there while in a back room a group of ladies were sewing on machines set up on desks awhile another ironed. It was a beehive of activity, banter and cheer. Members are invited to come pool their efforts at Pauline’s Place (named in memory of Pauline McCutcheon, a member who devoted many hours to Outreach) and the public is always welcome to drop in and see what is happening.

Marianne Gilmore and Ellen Crymble currently head the Outreach Program. Gilmore listed a few more of the many organizations that have been supported by the Guild: Grey Bruce Hospice, Victim Services, Quilts of Valour, Keystone and the GBRHC neonatal unit. “Making these quilts is a labour of love and done mostly with donated fabric.  However there are still additional costs for items such as thread and batting,” she noted.

Crymble recently embraced the challenge to help offset those costs. She is seeking out Community Partners and has brought in some much needed cash from local businesses.  In return the Partners can showcase one of the quilts in their business to promote both Outreach and their support of the Guild’s good works.  A complete list of these Community Partners is posted on the Guild Website  - www.bluewaterquilters.ca.

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June Sparling, a member since 1987 and still going strong, spearheads an initiative requested by the Alzheimer’s Society for fidget quilts. These are placemat sized, explained Sparling, with a variety of tactile stimulating objects attached such as zippers and beads, or textures like fur and lace that help to calm and occupy the hands of a person with dementia.

A Programme Committee works hard to line up great speakers for the 141 Guild members who meet on the third Monday of the month at the Bayshore Community Centre to share their passion for the craft of quilting in all its forms. “Guild meetings,” Seaman stated, “allow time to visit with our friends, share ideas, plan something special for everyone to enjoy, pick up a book from the Guild library and hear from a speaker on a subject dear to their heart. But the best part of the meeting is Show & Share - seeing what others have made since the last meeting. What an inspiration! But I should warn,” she added with a smile, “it usually inspires more creative pursuits.” Apparently there is a saying amongst quilters that the one who expires with the biggest fabric stash wins!

As part of the Guild’s mandate to promote quilting, beginner’s lessons, taught by experienced members, are offered in the evening at Pauline’s Place. Anyone interested can sign up (at Fabric Centre across from the Tim’s downtown) to be notified when the next session is organized. “Helping to teach someone how to make a quilt is very rewarding. Watching them get involved in making a quilt for someone else is even better,” summarized Seaman.

For more information or to offer support to Outreach contact the Guild via the website, search Bluewater Quilters’ Guild on Facebook, or drop into Pauline’s Place.

source: media release

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