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Crafting heirlooms in the SCV

Quilters are passionate about their craft, which can take many forms

Posted: June 15, 2013 5:39 p.m.
Updated: June 15, 2013 5:39 p.m.

Susie Bakman has her 2004 Patriotic Quilt on display at Valencia Westfield Town Center.

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It is the secret that all quilters share said Glenna Beaver of Valencia, a quilter for 30 years: "She who dies with the largest stash wins."

The "stash" is the quilters supply of fabric which inhabits boxes under beds, fill up closets and garages and sometimes needs to be smuggled into the house.

"I started quilting to use up all my fabric scraps since I’ve been sewing since I was 12," Beaver said. "I now have about 100 times the fabric I started with."

Susie Bakman of Canyon Country said the Quilt Guild has had speakers who discussed how they get their fabric into the house.

"One lady said she always prewashes her fabric. She throws her fabric directly into the washing machine in the garage when she gets home from the store," Bakman said. "That way her husband never sees it, it just comes into the house with the laundry."

Bakman started quilting in 2000. She said she was attracted to the craft because she likes puzzles.

"I like to make my own patterns, it’s a mathematical puzzle when you do that," Bakman said.

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild are passionate about their craft.

Carolyn Walker of Saugus has been a member of the Guild for nearly 10 years.

"I fell in love with quilting," Walker said. "Once I started I was hooked."

Walker started quilting after watching her mother-in-law quilt. When she retired in 1999 she found a quilting group to help her learn the art and started quilting in earnest.

She keeps track of all the quilts she has made and who in a journal.

One of her quilts she has been working on, a "Grandmother’s Flower Garden" quilt has taken her more than 6 1/2 years. "But it is all by hand," she said.

Walker said she often starts something new before finishing previous projects.

"It’s fun to start something new," she said.

She had 14 grandchildren and each has received a quilt.

Walker estimates that she has made nearly 50 quilts.

The "Grandmother’s Flower Garden" quilt she has renamed the "Grandfather’s Flower Garden." She made the king-size quilt for her husband.

It is the only quilt she has kept track of the time she has invested in its construction.

In the 6 years, 10 months she has spent 1,127 hours and 15 minutes in crafting the quilt top.

The SCV Quilt Guild has more than 100 members, many of whom are also members of smaller, mini-groups.

Beaver, Bakman, Ann Watts, Ruth Grossnickle and Carolyn Walker are members of the unofficial "Quilt & Eat" mini-group.

"It might be Quilt ‘n Eat, that’s how unofficial we are, we don’t even have an official way to spell our name," said Bakman.

Beaver said the members of the minigroup are "like sisters."

"We’re accountable to each other, we heckle each other, it’s become more than club, it’s become a friendship and a relationship," she said.

Beaver said the group has gotten smaller through the years, "but we’re still as connected as we were," she said.

Quilts are often passed down from generation to generation as heirlooms.

After her mother died Beaver found an heirloom quilt started by her great-grandmother had started.

"My great-grandmother had pieced, my grandmother had quilted and my mother had bound," she said.

Beaver kept the quilt in a cedar chest for a long time then decided she wanted to enjoy the quilt. She took it out of the chest and has been using, and enjoying it since.

Ruth Grossnickle of Valencia started quilting after taking a few classes at a local quilt shop. She made her first quilt in 1991.

"Quilting is pacifying for me," she said. "I don’t machine quilt, I hand quilt. Give me something to quilt with my hands and I just get lost in it."

She estimates she has made more than 50 quilts.

All of the quilters said they have worked on numerous quilts by themselves and with others. As well as quilts to donate to nonprofits to raffle off or quilts to give to the homeless or to comfort those in distress.

The SCV Quilt Guild has contributed three quilts to the City of Santa Clarita, one that hangs in or near the council chamber, a "travel" quilt and the Mall Quilt which is on permanent display at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

Beaver has made nearly 40 quilts for babies "dedicated" in her church. She started making these special gifts 18 years ago.

She said quilting is both relaxing and "aggravating."

Beaver encouraged anyone interested in quilting to attend a meeting of the SCV Quilt Guild.

"We want as many people hooked on our addiction as possible," she said.

Bakman said there is "something for everyone" in quilting.

There are many kinds of quilts, art quilts, memory quilts and the traditional "bed" quilt.

In addition, quilters make seasonal wall hangings and other smaller type of "quilts."

As befits a true work of art many modern quilters are careful to sign and date the backs of their quilts.

Walker said many quilters now also include the town where the quilt is made and the year it was finished.

"Its really, really important to label your quilts," said Bakman. "Quilts tend to get passed down. It’s a shame to look at that beautiful work and not know where it came from, who did it, when it was done, where they were located."

Bakman said the bare minimum should include who made the quilt, when it was made and where it was made. She also encourages quilt makers to include who the quilt was made for, and why, or for what occasion.

The SCV Quilt Guild hosts a quilt show in the SCV every two years. The next show will be held in 2014.

Members of the "Quilt & Eat" group currently have quilts on display near the Food Court at Westfield Valencia Town Center. The quilt display will be up until July 5. The quilts can be found near the entrance to the Food Court on the side of the mall near the Sisley Italian Kitchen restaurant.

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