Handmade: Quilting creates a bond of sisterhood

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

The art of quilting is the common thread that connects a group of women who meet once a week (September through June) at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. They call themselves the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Wednesday Night Quilting Sisters, a group founded in 1986 by Dr. Sarah Adams Reese.

Southfield resident Florene Kirk Smith, who’s currently in her third year as president, says, “For nearly 28 years, we have committed ourselves to promoting, preserving and teaching the art of African-American quilting.”

Additionally, members work to help needy individuals in the community. For instance, they contribute to the Zeta Stork’s Nest Foundation, which distributes layette sets to low-income expectant or new mothers in Wayne County. “We make up layettes and give those out in December,” says Smith. “In the layettes, we include a handmade quilt by one of the members, one (purchased) blanket, sleepers, onesies, socks, bibs, a receiving blanket and disposable diapers.”

Smith adds, “Our church gives out boxed lunches to the homeless at Thanksgiving. Our group makes fabric bags and then we fill those with personal hygiene items, like soap, body wash, toothpaste and brushes.” Members of the church then go out and distribute the personal hygiene bags to homeless Detroiters.

There are currently 24 members in the group and among them are two women who quilt entirely by hand, and one man. Membership is open to anyone, including individuals who don’t know how to quilt.

On Saturday, this talented group of quilting sisters will host their biannual quilt show, themed “Rhapsody in Color,” inside the Fellowship Hall of the church, at 18700 James Couzens Freeway in Detroit. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m., admission is free, and quilts will be available for sale.

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. For more news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.

Easy Baby Quilt

Level: Advanced beginner

Estimated time: Three hours

Tools: Sewing machine, rotary cutter, ruler, sewing needle, straight pins, sewing chalk, washing machine, iron

Supplies: A 40- by 40-inch piece of 100 percent cotton fabric for top of quilt, a 40- by 40-inch piece of 100 percent cotton (or flannel) fabric for back, a 40- by 40-inch piece of batting, 5 yards of premade bias tape, matching thread


1. Wash and press all cotton fabric.

2. Lay fabric on table (or floor) with wrong sides facing, and with batting in middle. Neatly pin baste from center outward.

3. Starting from center and working outward on both sides, draw parallel lines all the way across every 4 inches with chalk.

4. Now, starting from center, sew along these lines, working outward and removing pins as you go along.

5. Trim all edges evenly, using rotary cutter and ruler, for perfect square.

6. Sew bias tape together to make one continuous strip for binding, which will enclose raw edges of quilt. Press seams open.

7. With wrong sides facing, press strip in half lengthwise for a double thickness of binding.

8. Then, place double-folded bias tape over edge of quilt, matching raw edges of binding to edges of right side of quilt.

9. Stitch around quilt, folding ends over at corners to enclose raw edges. To end sewing, trim excess length from binding, leaving about a 2-inch tail, and finish sewing, overlapping ends.

10. Turn binding to back and finish by hand with blind hem stitch.

Contact Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Wednesday Night Quilting Sisters at (313) 861-1285.