Members of the Tellico Village Quilters made 85 children’s quilts over the past few months as part of a challenge to honor a former member.
Work from the Kids Quilt Challenge will go to organizations that help children and Head Start programs in Loudon and Monroe counties.
The challenge was a tribute to Sheryl Shoemaker, who alone made more than 100 quilts a year for children’s organizations.
Lori Rorstad, co-chair of the Village Quilters community service team, said the club wanted to keep helping those programs after Shoemaker’s passing.
“Before she got sick, we’d get 10 or 15 from her every month,” Rorstad said. “Sheryl made so many quilts, and we have the places, the family resource centers and Head Start programs, that are now used to having quilts from us because Sheryl made so many. And now we don’t have so many because not everyone does children’s quilts.
“We thought we need to get some kids quilts for the start of school next year because there’ll be all new kids,” she added. “We thought we’d have this challenge and honor Sheryl at the same time.”
Children’s quilts are usually smaller and have bigger blocks to make them more resistant to a child’s wear and tear. Quilters started with a randomly assigned bag of kid-friendly fabric with an image children would like, and then had to decide what fabric they had to complete the quilt and make it bright and colorful.
Rorstad estimated completing a children’s quilt could take five to 15 hours.
The challenge started in March. All 85 quilts were brought to the organization’s monthly meeting Friday at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church and put on display. The club’s nearly 300 members were asked to look over all the numbered entries, pick their favorite and place the corresponding number in a ballot box. The winner was announced at the meeting and received a gift certificate to a local quilting store.
Cheryl Szeluga won viewer’s choice with her baseball-themed quilt. Incorporating the famous “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” song, it features a depiction of each line of the song embroidered on every other square.
While Szeluga said she had some experience making quilts for her two young grandchildren, she hopes to do more children’s quilts in the future.
“I’ve got two grandbabies that are about six months apart that were born in 2019 and 2020, so I’ve done a couple of things for them, but not to this degree,” she said. “It’s wonderful. In fact, what I have determined is that I have a love for making the children’s quilts, so I’ll be making more now to donate as well.”
Rorstad addressed the club at the start of the meeting to thank members for their contribution to the challenge. She used the moment to share her past experience delivering quilts to children, recounting their delight at receiving such a unique gift, and recognized Shoemaker and her husband, Terry Shoemaker, who was in attendance.
The meeting also featured a regular quilt at the back of the room, which was part of a larger, ongoing challenge. The quilt is a raffle prize that will be won at the club’s biennial Quilt Show on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at Chota Recreation Center. More than 150 quilts will be on display over the two days.
In addition to the raffle, for which tickets will be still be available at the event, there will be a boutique of items members have made for purchase, vendors and a style show.
“Our Quilt Show, which is a big deal, that’s our primary fundraiser,” Rorstad said. “It’s our only fundraiser besides our membership fees, and we only have it every other year, so it’s really important to get as many people to it as we can.”