Dalene Philpott first joined Independence’s Queen City Quilters for a meeting 40 years ago to appease her mother.
“I whined about it. I didn’t want to listen to women argue,” Philpott said. “My mother said, ‘It’s not like that. … if you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back.’”
Now, however, the club counts Philpott as one of its most long-standing and energetic members. She recalls that when she started attending, most of the women were her mother’s age. In the decades since, she’s had to reimagine quilting for a different generation.
For Philpott and the club’s seven other members, their hobby’s continued relevance can be summed up easily: a connecting thread between their pasts and the present, a way of preserving tradition.
“It’s a gift handed down,” shared Pamela Jenkins.
As she grew up, Jenkins’ grandparents taught her how to sew, and they often took over the hardest parts of her quilting projects. Today, Jenkins’ grandmother is legally blind, leaving her to carry on the beloved family pastime.
Already, Jenkins’ grandchildren enjoy quilting and practice on her sewing machine.
The club’s members estimate that they each have dozens of hand-me-down quilts and other unfinished projects stored in their basements. Recently, Philpott brought one of her mother’s embroidery pieces and the group worked it into a larger quilt.
This desire to keep material and explore its future use also stands out as a theme for the club. In particular, member Helen Close fondly remembers a visitor who was no longer quilting and decided to donate old supplies to the group. Close found nursery rhyme quilt blocks among these scraps, which led to one of her favorite creations: a whimsical children’s quilt she gave to her stepson’s youngest daughter.
A common question – often shouted above the general chatter and bustle of meetings – is “Who’s got what?”
Each week, the club puts out a call for a certain color – last week, pink, the week before that, purple. The table at the center of the room in the Roger T. Sermon Community Center where the quilters meet quickly becomes a collage of varied shades.
“A lot of people don’t understand what they can do with what they have,” Jenkins said.
Following with that message, the Queen City Quilters try to use quilts to fulfill community needs. The club has donated handiwork to local cancer centers and animal shelters. Members say it helps them see added value in their craft.
“Seeing a big jumble of fabric come together … it’s just awesome,” Close said.
IF YOU GO
The Queen City Quilters meet 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Roger T. Sermon Community Center, 201 N. Dodgion St., Independence. Community center membership is required.