Handmade: Quilters find piecing together meaningful

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News
Members of the Farmington Community Library Quilters at a recent meeting.


Crafting alone in the privacy of one's home can be a satisfying and productive way to spend leisure time. Yet, there's something about being in the company of others who share your passion for the same, or a similar craft, that 'feeds the (creative) soul,' if you will.

Member Jan Jacobs stitches a quilt during a recent meeting.

The Farmington Community Library Quilters has been doing just that for its members since it was founded about 10 years ago by a woman who taught memoir writing at the library.

Group leader Lori Rhode of Farmington Hills said, "It brings quilters together to share their work in progress. We don't bring in guest teachers, but we have different skill levels in the group, from beginners to advanced.

"Quilting is like other crafts, where people like to do it with others. It's communal. They like to collaborate. We're not a guild; it's more of a social group of people who have a common interest in quilt making."

Members of the Farmington Community Library Quilters include (from left) Ruth Ann Carter,  Joyce Montante, Andrea Cushman, Letty Abraham, Dalphine Lamb, Esther Lacy, Susan Horner, group leader Lori Rhode, and Jan Jacobs.

Out of the 50 members, about 10-20 attend the meetings held year-round, every first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at Farmington Community Library, 32737 W. 12 Mile in Farmington, where they piece fabric together for making quilts.

"Usually people bring in their work, and we have a show-and-tell. In the last year, most days of our meeting, people set up sewing projects. Five to 10 come in and work on projects at the library because some don't have space at home, or they just want to work together," said Rhode. "(And), sometimes we have a local retail person come in and do a trunk show." 

There's usually some business conducted at the meetings, including plans for the group's participation in the city's Festival of the Arts.

Quilt-making challenges are sometimes part of group activities, like the one they did last year where you had to create a quilt using a traditional nine-patch. "We also went to a well-known quilt teacher in the state and took a class. The pattern (we used) was called "Twisted Sisters," and everyone made a variation of the pattern."

As a charity project, members made approximately 75 quilts which they donated to residents of Piquette Square, an apartment complex in the Milwaukee-Junction area of Detroit for formerly homeless veterans.

"(And), since we meet at the library, we've done things like teach a class for children at the library in the summer for basic sewing. We have one in July, and one in August. We usually have about 25 kids sign up, and they usually range in age from 8-11," said Rhode. "We've also made a raffle quilt. It was a fundraiser for Friends of the Library."  And, twice a year, the group holds a "Saturday Sew-In" from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for anyone interested in quilt making. 

There's no residency requirement for becoming a member of the Farmington Community Library Quilters. Anyone can join, even those who don't know how to quilt. "We have a variety of skill levels, and we're very accepting of beginners, and willing to get people started -- not do it all for them, but give advice and guidance on how to learn quilting," explained Rhode.

"When I first started quilting, I learned hand-piecing," she said. "Now, I do all my quilting with a sewing machine. Not everyone has a sewing machine, at first. We guide people where they can learn (to quilt), but we help them as well."

Becoming a member of the group is free. "We don't charge dues, but we're a member of the Farmington Community Arts Council, and dues for that are $30 a year, so we pass the hat once a year so we can pay for membership," said Rhode. "It keeps us in touch with the art community, and helps us pay the cost for the Festival of Arts.

Rhode is looking forward to the group participating in more quilt shows in the area "because it's a fun way to see what other people have made." 

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact the Farmington Community Library Quilters at laura.scott@farmlib.org.