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On Your Mark, Get Set, Quilt!
By Diane Hoskins - March 22, 2009

Quilting is not a lost art…it's alive and well at the Rock Church Quilting Ministry.

"The quilting ministry is made up of ladies of all ages with skill levels that vary from novice to expert, and anyone who is interested in learning to quilt is welcome to join," says Teresa Church, leader of the ministry.

Depending on skill level and quilt pattern selected, it takes about 40 hours for a member to complete one quilt.

Nevertheless, one member, Theresa, had never sewn a stitch in her life.

"I just went out and bought a sewing machine and showed up," said Theresa. "The sewing machines today are so easy. They practically thread themselves. All you do is step on the pedal and go! The only thing you have to learn to create a quilt is how to sew in a straight line!"

Another member, Nancy, is fairly experienced and is in the process of finishing her second quilt top. "My machine is 30 years old, but it still works great! It's fun to see these little squares come together to make something beautiful" says Nancy.

You don't need lots of supplies to join the Quilting Ministry. There are extra sewing machines, ironing boards, cutting boards, and "kits" of quilting materials already cut into strips that are ready to be stitched together and made into a top piece. Experienced quilters pair up with beginners, teaching them the techniques.

A group of about 10 to 12 ladies usually come together on a Saturday from 9 AM to 3 PM. The meeting starts out with prayer—for each other and for the people who will receive the quilts. Each member has a Rock Church quilt project they are working on.

The camaraderie is evident as the ladies start their work, with quilting phrases floating through the air.. "Can I use your cutter?” “Let's piece this together.” “That quilt is going to pop with that fabric color!” “We'll do the squares out of this material and the strips out of this…."

They break for lunch, and the friendships continue to build as the quilters get to know each other better. For Debbie, the quilting group is what made her feel more connected to the Rock Church.

"I have found real fellowship here. I like that we devote six hours to be together. It gives us more time to share about our lives and form friendships. We've even gone on outings as a group to the San Diego Quilt Show and the 'Road to California' Quilting Convention in Ontario."

How does a quilt come together?

One of the favorite designs is a prayer quilt. It is a 42"x54" lap quilt which is a good size for carrying to medical appointments, laying on hospital beds, or using with wheelchairs.

The squares are made by sewing strips of fabric together. These squares are then sewn into rows, which become the quilt top. It is then pinned to a layer of batting and fabric backing.

The actual quilting is done by sewing these three layers together with either a simple straight stitch, or with beautiful designs using a special "long arm" sewing machine. The binding hem is then sewn on with a machine and then turned over and hand sewn to complete the quilt. Ties can then be added where each tie represents a prayer said for the recipient. The quilters gather around the quilt and pray as they tie the strings.

There are many ways to support the quilting ministry. Donations of bolts of flannel material for backing, or cotton material for the square tops are always appreciated. Volunteers can come and help cut material, lay out the squares, pin the layers, or sew the quilts together and finish the edging.

"We would love to have more quilters!" said Church. "The more hands we have, the more quilts we can produce to bless the children of San Diego!"

For more information about the Quilting Ministry, click here »