Comfort. Care. Coziness. All of these warm feelings are conveyed in a hand-crafted quilt. Over the years, quilting has remained one of the most popular hobbies in the country. It often brings images of Amish and Mennonite women gathered around a frame with a needle in hand to stitch together. Thanks to the ongoing popularity of quilting, modern stitchers continue to meet together, putting needle to fabric with creative designs and collaborations.

The Quilting Season in Saline offers patrons a space to share their love of quilting while enjoying the camaraderie in a social setting. Owner Mary Lindquist offers many classes and encourages fellow stitchers to meet up for holiday projects, charitable causes, and more.

“Quilting is important for so many reasons,” Lindquist said. “I believe that working with beauty, creating with your own hands, and the peacefulness found with a project feeds one’s soul. Women are so structured, time-oriented, and activity-directed, they lose sight of themselves. In a nutshell, these are the reasons to encourage women to have a creative project.”

One recent offering is the Ladies Literary Club, which combines a Block of the Month with a Book of the Month. Quilters meet to stitch together and discuss fiction and nonfiction books written by women.

“My job is to create interesting projects for them, both with handwork and also projects that use the sewing machine,” Lindquist said. She also encourages patrons to come together to work on charitable projects. They sew pillowcases for patients at C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. They sew and sell hand-made stockings during the holiday season, with the proceeds of sales going to local seniors in need.

Quilting for a Cause

For more than 19 years, Jo Goings and friends have been meeting once a month for quilting and companionship. The quilting ministry, which meets at Christ Our King Lutheran Church in Saline, makes quilts that are distributed in the community and around the world.

“Our quilts exude such warmth and comfort to everyone, not just to look at, but to some that are actually receiving it who probably need warmth and comfort more than anybody,” Goings said. “The majority of fabric used in our quilts is from donations,” she added.

“When we were shut down because of COVID, my concern was that people would have found something else to fill their time. We had more people when we returned in August than we have had for a long time, and it continues today,” Goings said.

Goings noted that people are hungry for fellowship, and that is what the quilting group provides. The ladies bring lunch, share desserts and a quilting-related devotion, and work together on the colorful creations. In 2021, they made over 200 quilts distributed to agencies in Southeast Michigan and international relief organizations.

Finding a Quilt Community

Quilters often enjoy one part of the process more than others. For some, it is the meditative pleasure that comes from hand-stitching. For others, it is the sewing that allows them to bring the many colorful fabrics together.

Marty MacLeod enjoys the design process. “With a good design and selected fabrics bundled together, I’m able to envision the finished quilt in my head,” she said.

MacLeod enjoys the companionship that comes with quilting groups.

“Now that I’m retired, I’ve joined two quilt groups. I liken it to book clubs. You can certainly read/quilt on your own and finish exactly what you make time for, or you can read or quilt with a group to enrich the experience. And quilt groups are as different as book clubs. Many are open to all, while others are invitation-only.”

A quilter interested in joining a group may start at local shops or search out area guilds. “If you can’t find a compatible group, it’s simple to start your own with a few like-minded friends,” MacLeod suggests.

“Some work independently on their art but want a similarly serious group to inspire, critique, and challenge them. Some simply want to socialize while completing their own projects. Other groups are production-oriented, playing off each other’s strengths to create and donate piles of quilts and cheerful pillowcases for hospitals, shelters, veterans, and nursing homes. No matter the group, show-and-tell sessions are as fun and affirming as they were back in first grade!” MacLeod said.

The internet is also a resource for quilters. With virtual classes, video tutorials, and blogs, artisans can find plenty of inspiration. Companies such as Spoonflower can even help clients design their own fabrics.

“Many people have found like-minded quilters online, with organized groups spanning continents,” MacLeod said. “The whole world is open to today’s quilters.”