Sewing Bee at the Melbourne Agri. Society Hall.

Dorothy Kilgour is one of the dedicated women who routinely donate their handiwork, in this case lap quilts for Alzheimer’s patients, to area seniors’ residences. The community sewing bee is held a few times a year at the Melbourne Agricultural Society hall.

Dorothy Kilgour is one of the dedicated women who routinely donate their handiwork, in this case lap quilts for Alzheimer’s patients, to area seniors’ residences. The community sewing bee is held a few times a year at the Melbourne Agricultural Society hall.

The clatter of sewing machines fills the confines of the Melbourne Agricultural Society Hall. About a dozen women look diligently at their handiwork, examining the fabric just a few inches from they eyes, then passing the material through the machines, stopping, examining and running the fabric through once more, and the sequence is repeated for several hours.

Meanwhile the pile of finished lap quilts on the table grows higher and higher.

This is the second meeting this winter for the Melbourne Community Sewing Bee. A group that was started by Betty McCracken in the fall of 2013 under the Homecraft Division of the Melbourne Agricultural Society in order to make lap quilts for people with Alzheimer’s disease in area senior’s residences.

McCracken has been sewing her entire life and a friend, a fellow sewer, told her about a project that a Sarnia group was doing to use their leftover material.

“Sewers and quilters always have leftovers and we often wonder what to do with the fabric,” said McCracken.

A few times a year, the dozen women meet and construct a one metre by one metre quilt, that benefits Alzheimer’s patients. McCracken is quick to point out that the quilts are not the professionally finished products. The quilts are created by using 16 different squares of tactile material. They are sewn together onto a backing, but there is no lining, and all of the squares are embellished with buttons, crinkly material and pockets.

“Alzheimer patients like to feel the material, so each square gives them a different experience,” she said. “Everything is tactile, they can touch it, feel it, and calms them. The quilts become a conversation piece because some of the family members might say, “Didn’t you have a dress made out of that? Or weren’t your pajamas made of this material?” It gets the family and the Alzheimer patient talking.”

The quilts are not for warmth but for touch. They are colourful, and some even have themes. McCracken said that since the sewing group has been meeting, more than 200 quilts have been fashioned. The finished products are dispersed to different seniors residences in the area, such as the McCormick Home, which has an Alzheimer Outreach Service, Strathmere Lodge and the facility in Delaware.

“We do a lot of homework,” said McCracken. “Since we only meet a few times a year, most of the women sew these quilts at home, but they like coming out here to Melbourne for the fellowship. It’s been a long, cold winter so everyone likes to get out.”

She said that the group would continue to make the quilts as long as there is a need. “Quite a few of us are addicted to making these,” she said.

The quilts take anywhere from three to six hours to make, and McCracken spends a lot of time preparing the squares for the sewing group.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she said. “We get to use all of our leftover fabric and the seniors residences get these quilts.”

At every outing there are new people joining the sewing bee, with the next one slated for March 14, from 9am-3pm, at the Melbourne Agricultural Society Hall, 21866 Melbourne Road. Lunch is provided.

[Cited from the strathroyagedispatch.com]

Ron Tyler

Ron Tyler

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