Quilters will mark 25th anniversary

Jane Salmon, Village Quilters president, from left, Carole Spahn, founder, and Pat Anderson, Shop Hop coordinator, showcase quilts at the Chota Recreation Center.

For more than two decades, the Village Quilters have offered the opportunity to learn and showcase sewing talents.

Carole Spahn founded the group in October 1996 in hopes of sharing her interest with others.

“Actually, I expected eight or nine people just sitting around quilting, eight or nine old ladies,” Spahn said with a laugh. “But from the initial beginning it became so much more than I envisioned.

“I just put a note out on our Village website, or whatever it was called back then, and just said, ‘If anybody’s interested in quilting, meet me at the Yacht Club on Friday.’ Had more than 20 people show up. They all joined in and some of them were very good quilters and they really got us off to a good start. One thing that I do think was important — and still is — from one of the very first meetings (is) a woman came that was part of the charity that made quilts for premature infants and we started almost from day one making quilts for people that needed them.”

The group has blossomed to more than 300 members in and around Tellico Village that meet the second Friday of each month at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church.

“It’s open arms to anybody with a common interest,” Jane Salmon, president, said.

“At the beginning we named it the Village Quilters,” Spahn added. “We didn’t call it the Tellico Village Quilters because we wanted people from the surrounding areas to join us.”

The group focuses on charitable causes and donated quilts for organizations like East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Caris Healthcare, domestic violence centers, nursing homes and Quilts of Valor.

“I mean we gave over 1,000 quilts last year alone,” Salmon said. “Of course that was during COVID so people had a little bit more time to work. That was a banner year. But still that’s remarkable we donated over 1,000 quilts last year alone, and since they’ve started counting we have donated over 7,000 quilts to various charities.”

In honor of the group’s 25th anniversary, a Shop Hop fundraiser is set for June 8-10 and features six regional quilt stores. Each store has supported the guild during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pat Anderson, Shop Hop coordinator, said the fundraiser is good way for quilters and businesses to support each other.

“Because of COVID, our quilt show was canceled and that is our major fundraiser to keep the guild going, to supply the community projects and bring in the national speakers,” Anderson said. “What happened was I was out in the community and our shops, the local quilt shops are also hurting from COVID from being shut down, but all the shops involved in this are guild members and one of them came to me and said, ‘I’m worried because how are you going to sustain the guild without your quilt show,’ and it was a local shop that was her idea to do a Shop Hop. Another shop owner said to me we could make it a fundraiser and sell passports. What I did was a printed up passports and sold them for $5 each to anybody. You don’t have to be a guild member to be involved.”

Passports can be found at the six shops — Mom & Megg Shop in Dandridge, Stitches ‘N’ Stuff Fabric Shoppe in Powell, Mountain Creek Quilt Shop and Twisted Sisters Quilt Shop, both in Maryville, and Magic Cat and Joyful Noise, which aren’t brick-and-mortar stores and will be located 9 a.m.-3 p.m. June 8-10 at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church. The other stores operate under regular business hours. The Quilters’ Boutique will also be available at the church.

Shop Hop is a first and comes at a time when funds are especially needed. Salmon said the group hopes to see the show’s return in 2022.

“When I look at the budget we’ve got speakers coming in, and while we’re going to make it through this year, the following year we don’t know because still have not been able to schedule a quilt show,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of things that haven’t come back from COVID. At this point every little bit helps.”