A stitch in time brings happiness to others

July 14, 2022

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Tzedkah Quilt Group’s display at the Sandler Family Campus: Celia Friedman, Nancy Wall, Jeanette Friedman, Roz Weinstein, Marsha Moody, Jeanne Zentz, and Paula Russel.

The quilters at Ohef Sholom Temple are all about creating beautiful designs that bring joy and provide a rewarding sense of community. Marsha Moody says it’s fun, creative, and meaningful.

“I’ve always loved fabric,” Moody says. “When we lived in Charlottesville in 1983/84, I walked into an Amish quilt shop. At that time, I couldn’t afford to buy one, so I decided to learn.” It took several years before she became serious about quilting.

“The Tzedakah Quilt Group was the first time that I actually started to sew with a group. We learn so much from each other and support each other.”

Nancy Wall, fellow quilter, says, “It’s a fabric hug made with love.”

A lot goes into the finished product. The basic steps are learning to use a sewing or sewing/quilting machine, having the right tools, understanding patterns, and choosing fabric. After colors and fabrics are chosen, the squares need to be cut into strips and sewn into a muslin foundation and a top is put on the backing, followed by stitching, trimming, binding, adding a label, and ironing throughout the entire process. The different styles include patchwork, appliqué, paper-pieced, traditional, and modern.

“What our group does is a form of patchwork called string quilts,” Moody explains. “The inspiration for this type of quilting came from a site called the Heartstring Quilting Project, when I realized I had too many fabric scraps left over from other projects.” In addition to the string quilts, Moody says she loves to make small art quilts, something she was inspired to do after a visit to Ireland. “I came home and created one that gave me the feel of that beautiful country.”

Contrary to appearances, even though many of these are true works of art, one does not need to be artistic to quilt. One only needs “a desire to work with fabric and create something. There are many types and styles of quilts, and all abilities and skills can create,” Moody adds.

A true collaborative effort, “everyone comes to the group with different skill sets which are shared,” says Moody. “We will teach the steps as needed and cooperate on choosing the fabric. One of our favorite times is organizing the finished quilt blocks till we are satisfied with the design.”

“The opportunity to learn something new was exciting, and Marsha’s method made quilting simple,” says Celia Friedman, a member of the group. “Along the way, I’ve enjoyed the company of other congregants. There is such a warm feeling being able to offer some warmth through these quilts to others. A real treat is the most wonderful thank you letters from the recipients of our quilts.”

Moody’s favorite quilt ever? “It’s hard to say. I loved making the chuppah for my daughter, Diane, and also baby quilts for all four of my grandkids. But I think my favorite quilt was a miniature art quilt I made for the International Quilt Festival.”

The quilters have had two different displays at the Sandler Family Campus, and have also displayed the quilts at OST during several Jewish Family Service volunteer luncheons. “We started with JFS to work with the Hampton Roads’ Jewish community. At the beginning of the pandemic, JFS couldn’t take the quilts, so we gave them to Virginia Supportive Housing, as suggested by Sharon Nusbaum, who was on their board. We plan on splitting between both groups this year. It’s fun to quilt and to know our creations will be loved and enjoyed by many people.”

-Debbie Burke

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