Miami Valley quilting groups focus on community projects, welcome new members

In the Miami Valley, quilting binds generous hearts into long friendships and continued community service. Area guilds and circles welcome seniors who are quilting experts or beginners.

“It’s all about the love of creating,” says Mary Ann Clifford, vice president of the Miami Valley Quilters Guild, which has members from across Dayton—from north and south suburbs, from Preble County clear to Xenia and Yellow Springs.

Clifford, 63, who learned the craft from her grandmother when she was a child, says guild members quilt all types of projects. They even have several male members focused on abstract quilting and art quilts.

Within the guild, groups focus on community projects for hospital NICUs and cancer units, veteran groups, and more. Classes and regular speakers help members sharpen their skills or start from basics. “There is a place for you,” Clifford notes.

The Miami Valley Quilters Guild meets the second Tuesday of each month at Knob Prairie Church in Enon, 203 W. Main St. The next meeting is Tuesday, November 14, at 6:30 p.m. Clifford adds, “Come early and introduce yourself.”

Dayton Project Linus meets monthly at the Beavercreek Senior Center. “Don’t think you have any skills? We will help you find them,” the chapter Facebook page declares. A chapter of the national organization, the group creates blanket/bed quilts, afghans and fleece quilts for children in crisis.

“I make practical quilts to be cuddled and used, put in the dryer and made warm on cold mornings when the grandkids sleep over,” says Barbara Faller, chapter assistant.

The retired teacher says she made her first quilt at age 45, and now, at 62, she strives to make 50 quilts a year for the chapter plus gifts for friends. She even invested in a small, longarm sewing machine that can stitch quilt tops, batting and backing together.

The chapter welcomes new quilters as well as seasoned veterans. “You only need a sewing machine,” says Faller. “We have lots of scraps.” Novices can cut squares and help hand-tie fleece blankets.

The next chapter meeting is 9 a.m. – noon Nov. 11 at the senior center, 3868 Dayton-Xenia Road.

Lynn Campbell, a retired businesswoman and teacher who lives in West Dayton, is Program Director of the Hands to Hearts Quilting Circle at Corinthian Baptist Church, 700 S. James H McGee Blvd. It meets 11 am. — 1 p.m. every Wednesday.

She urges novices and non-traditional quilters to come. “It’s not hard at all. The lines don’t have to be perfectly straight.” The church offers members fabric pieces, tools, even sewing machines.

Campbell says she started quilting at age 50, creating a small pillow for a close cousin. She quickly expanded into art quilts, taking classes at Wilberforce University from expert Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi. Now 73, Campbell says she recently showed one of her art quilts at a Springboro Performing Arts Center exhibition. “I love color—all the different color combinations. I like to break the rules,” she notes. “You can too.”

Toni Heggie, also 73, says she has created quilts for her grandsons using their favorite high school T-shirts. Her projects also cover her bed and are displayed on walls at her Centerville home. One of her bedrooms is a quilting studio for her “UFOs,” i.e., unfinished objects, she laughs.

The fourth Wednesday of the month you’ll find Heggie at the Creative Quilters Guild that meets at Normandy United Methodist Church, 450 W. Alex-Bell Rd. Members work together on community projects and share works during Show and Tell time. “I’ve made a lot of friends. There’s something about being with other quilters. You get motivated by things they have done.”

Newcomers can start by assisting with projects or trying new skills on one of the quilt blocks distributed every meeting. “Just start with a few simple things,” says Heggie, who didn’t begin quilting until age 59, though she’d been sewing since age 9.

Quilt camps are also available to quilters. Heggie is program directors for the summer Quilt Camps hosted by Kirkmont Center near Bellefountaine. Each summer quilters can register for one of two five-day camps that meet at the center, which was founded by the Presbyterian Church USA.

Many area churches and senior centers offer quilting groups, quilt shows and fabric sales. Check with these organizations to find more quilting opportunities.

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