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Quilting produces results at Riverview Community Centre

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This Saturday afternoon is anything but lazy for the 12 women who are sitting with scissors at their sewing machines using a new technique they have just learned to make unique quilts.


"Aren’t they doing phenomenal work?" said instructor Mary Backhaus. She was joined by another quilter, and former Winnipegger, who travelled all the way from Sioux Narrows, Ont. to teach the one block technique to members of the Riverview Quilting Group.


Sioux Narrows is located almost 300 kilometres from Winnipeg. When asked about driving such a long way, Backhaus said: "It’s for quilting. Of course we’ll come."


"It’s a process. The quilts are all made from one fabric. It is amazing that you can get so many designs out of one fabric," she added.


Preparing the fabric takes time, concentration and creative vision. The quilters cut pieces of the fabric and sew the fabric back together to produce a new design.


"You have to really think about what you’re doing and how you’re going to place your fabric. It’s not a pattern that you can just read," quilter Sue Zaparniuk said.


The quilters mount their personally-patterned fabrics on the wall to allow them a better look at the designs they create.


"It takes a while," said quilter Maria Sipriano. "You leave the created pattern on the wall and then come back to it and maybe change it around."


"Then it’ll be another day of sewing, putting a backing on using the same fabric, sandwiching it all and finally quilting it together," Zaparniak added.


The quilting club members learn something different every time they get together and they often bring in a guest who teaches them a new technique. More than 30 women show up at some of these quilting sessions.


Newcomers with their sewing machines are welcome to join the group, which has been around for more than 50 years. Many of the current quilters have been with the club for the past 15 years.


"It’s nice to see what other people make and you get ideas from other people," said longtime quilter and sewer Heather Glaser.


In January, the group gets busy making quilt kits for the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, which in turn donates the finished products to people living in personal care homes in Manitoba. The quilts are assembled by volunteers throughout the city.


These 36-inch square quilts are composed of various textured fabrics such as fleece, seersucker and flannel. They are meant to sit on a person’s lap and to stimulate touch. The group aims to prepare 10,000 sensory stimulation quilts, one for every person living in a personal care home in the province.


Another thing the group does is share a potluck supper. Delicious smells waft from the kitchen as I’m leaving Riverview Community Centre. After they dine, many of the quilters will return to their machines and continue their efforts until 10 p.m. Some of the women will return Sunday to continue their creative work.


"It’s fun to be together as a group," Backhaus said.


Dianne Doney is a community correspondent for Fort Rouge. You can contact her at diannemary@hotmail.com.

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