Your grandmother may have had a sewing circle, or had a group of friends who would bring over fabric squares which they pieced together on a rack.
Santa Clarita has the SCV Quilt Guild.
“Our guild is a fun guild,” says quilter Donna Chipperfield of Agua Dulce, who joined the club in 1991. “Yes, we do a lot of work … but we also go out and have dinner once in a while and anybody is welcome to come.
Almost 30 years ago, a group of quilters created the non-profit Santa Clarita Quilt Guild to share their love of handcrafting, and at the same time, meet needs of others in the community. They pass on their skills to future generations through demonstrations and in working with Girl Scouts earning their Quilting Badge.
The group has contributed three quilts to the City of Santa Clarita, and one hangs in the City Council chambers. The members also adopt families in need, raising money for individuals without resources.
The goal of the SCV Quilt Guild is to serve the community, says Carol Carter, who serves on the community service committee for the club.
“We make quilts for our veterans through Habitat for Humanity,” she says. “Each veteran receives a quilt when they move into their new home.”
The non-profit organization also creates quilts for residents of the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles. They also support The Painted Turtle, a camp for children with special needs and medical issues.
“We donate turtle pillows and small quilts for each child to take home,” Carter says.
The Guide Dogs of America are supported by the non-profit, and the Santa Clarita Senior Center receives original work from the Quilt Guild, including placemats, shawls, wheelchair and lap quilts for seniors.
“We have a good group and we’re all oriented toward doing community service,” Chipperfield says.
Some of the other organizations benefiting from the work of the guild include: American Diabetes Association, Boy Scouts, Brownie Girl Scouts, Canyon Country Library, City of Hope, Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Santa Clarita Food Pantry, SCV Pregnancy Center, SCV Homeless Shelter, SCV Sheriff’s Department, United Cerebral Palsy, and others.
Canyon Country resident Bunny House joined the Quilt Guild after she retired from Union Bank in 2004. Her first quilting project involved matching up the points of triangles.
“It was all challenging, I’ve got to tell you,” she says. “At the time, I hadn’t used my sewing machine in … I can’t even tell you. I had packed it away.”
Like many of the guild’s members, House sewed when she was young. “When my daughter was born … the first two years she was in school I made everything she wore,” she says. “I made clothing for myself, and doll clothes. Before, it was actually more cost-effective than it is now, because fabric is really expensive.”
House says she’s a traditional quilter.
“I’m not a modern quilter,” House says. “I like traditional patterns. I don’t have a favorite pattern, but I do like stars.”
Traditional does not necessarily mean hand-sewn.
“Hand-quilting would not be an option at this point. I can do some hand-sewing, but hand-quilting would be intensive,” House says. “I know we have some members who do hand-quilting.”
Of course, some of the Guild prefer working by hand, one member in particular.
“She doesn’t even own a sewing machine,” Chipperfield says. “Everything is done by hand. And she pumps out some of the most beautiful quilts you have ever seen.”
Chipperfield, a former Quilt Guild president, quilts professionally, finishing people’s quilts for almost two decades now.
“Modern quilting now is quite different,” Chipperfield says. “It used to be quilts were made to be on beds. Now we do it for art. … You used to sit around a frame and you outlined your little squares or triangles. And now you do it by machine and your imagination is the only thing that hinders you.”
Chipperfield’s grandmother started her quilting when she was 9 years old, and she was hooked.
“Anybody who takes up quilting, it will become a passion for them,” she says.
Smithsonian refers to quilting as “fiber arts,” says Chipperfield, who adds that it resembles the work of visual artists.
“All quilts are beautiful,” she says. “It’s kind of like looking at paintings. Some will really jump out at you and others will kind of just intrigue you. With others you’ll say, ‘Hmm … that’s OK.’ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild meetings are held the second Thursday of every month from 7-9:30 p.m. at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, located at 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road. The club gets national and international quilting experts to come and speak, and will typically show examples of their work. Sometimes there’s a workshop, where members can become more knowledgeable quilters.
“If you had any desire to become one, or any sewing background you’d probably enjoy it,” House says. “It’s really gratifying to put a quilt together and see it come together and you can give it to someone who will appreciate it.”
For more information about the organization, visit SCVquiltguild.org.