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Handmade quilts warm body and soul

Quilters provide comfort to area kids one stitch at a time

Created date

February 26th, 2013

March is typically reserved for the Irish and all things green. But there s another lesser-known group celebrating their heritage this month. Quilting enthusiasts across the country will be celebrating National Quilting Day on the third Saturday in March. No one appreciates the comfort a warm quilt can bring quite as well as the Oak Leaf Quilters, a group of ladies who live at Oak Crest, the Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md., and make quilts for children at area hospitals.

Work of art

We make a variety of sizes some for preemie babies, some for toddlers, and others for teenagers, says Nina Goodman, the group s organizer. We also have done a bunch of different themed quilts like lady bugs and tractors; every one of them is unique. Some of them are really a work of art. Once completed, the quilts are delivered to the children s units of Johns Hopkins, Franklin Square, and Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital off Northern Parkway. Although Nina had done some embroidery and other small sewing projects, including quilting a blanket her aunt had pieced together, it wasn t until she moved to Oak Crest four years ago that she really took to the hobby. After we moved, I decided to check out the Oak Leaf Quilters just to see what kinds of things they do, says Nina. The group was already established, and the lady who was coordinating the club at the time was preparing to move to be closer to her kids. She asked me if I would be interested in leading the group. At first, I wasn t sure what to think; I really hadn t planned on that. Knowing that without leadership the group would likely dissolve, Nina agreed. Ever since, she and the group s nine other members have been meeting weekly in the Crestview crafts room to chat and stitch. Last year they made 177 quilts, most of which were made from donated materials. We ve been fortunate enough to manage without spending a lot of money, says Nina. We always welcome donations of cotton or flannel fabric, yarn, and batting.

Sew easy

To the casual observer, quilting may seem complicated, but according to Nina, most of the women are novices like herself. Some of the ladies crochet, and we have another lady from Norway who was once a seamstress, says Nina. Basically a quilt is just three layers: the top, which is the decorative pattern; then there s the bottom or the backing; and lastly, the inside or batting. We take the bottom piece and fold it over to make a border. Then we tie the pieces with crochet cotton like the old-time comforters used to use. The great thing about quilting is you can improvise, and if for some reason one of the pieces is too small, we can add borders and other decorative things to make it work. Occasionally, the Oak Leaf Quilters display their quilts in the cases outside the crafts room, as well as at the annual Oak Crest craft exhibit. From time to time, they also raffle their quilts. Most recently, some of the ladies have turned their sewing talents into a way to help people in other countries by sewing dresses for homeless children in Korea and Vietnam. No matter what they re making, Nina says, the companionship is equally as satisfying as the sewing itself. I enjoy talking with all the ladies while we work, she says. I really value their friendship. We always have a good time together and teach each other new things. It s a lot of fun!