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This group is about more than quilting

By ELIZABETH MACAULEY

Chronicle Staff Writer

MANSFIELD — The Mansfield Senior Center’s quilting group is more than just a place to quilt, it’s an active learning environment.

Seniors attend the quilting group in need of inspiration for unfinished projects and to learn new techniques they haven’t conquered yet.

Pat Ferguson is the quilting instructor at the senior center and has been quilting since 1995.

“If we get stumped, Pat will help us,” said Anita Evans of Mansfield.

Peggy Beckett-Rinker, of Storrs, who has been quilting since 1980, is learning how to use a machine while quilting in the group.

“You learn a lot in a group that you wouldn’t get learning at home,” said Beckett-Rinker. “It’s really productive.”

“We all learn from each other,” Ferguson said. “And we have a very talented group of ladies, many of whom do their own designs and patterns.”

Seniors quilt tote bags, art quilts, wall hangings, accessories, table runners and large quilts while at the senior center, Ferguson said.

Ferguson finds sewing quilts to be satisfying because they always fit, unlike sewing clothing.

It’s important to understand that quilting has evolved throughout the years.

“We don’t quilt like our grandmas would have,” Ferguson said.

“Quilting started with people using old clothing to keep warm,” Ferguson said. “Nobody quilted in the ’50s and ’60s because you were considered poor if you had to quilt.”

However, in the 1970s, quilting began to gain popularity again, Ferguson said.

Since then, it has continued to take off with varieties of fabrics available to purchase in stores.

“My mom was surprised I buy fabric for quilts,” said Lexie Beebe of Storrs. “She always used old fabrics.”

Many people would cut up old feedsacks and use the patterns on them for quilts, Evans said.

The seniors often share and trade different fabric pieces they have purchased with each other during the group.

“Many of us go to the hardware store for quilting supplies as well,” said Ferguson. “It’s a lot cheaper.”

The quilting group spends the whole day together.

According to Ferguson, the group meets twice a month and quilts all day because you can get more done that way.

“It’s very social and therapeutic,” Ferguson said.

“I enjoy the camaraderie, sharing and seeing what others are doing,” Beebe said. “It’s an escape like any other hobby.”

For more information, call the Mansfield Senior at 860-429-0262 or visit patfergusonquilts.com.

 

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