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Quilting Bee in North Salem Provides Layers of Comfort

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - The North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps building was humming with the sound of sewing machines and buzzing with chatter on Wednesday morning as more than a dozen members of Comfort Quilt convened for the semi-monthly session they attend.

Comfort Quilt is a group within the Northern Star Quilters' Guild , an active organization serving the Westchester, Putnam area and outlying districts.

North Salem’s Brenda Strauss paused in her sewing to recall that she started quilting with a group of friends in the neighborhood in the early ‘70s. “Once I started it took over my life. I am obsessed with quilts,” she said. “I like handling the fabric and the design part of it. There are days when I am very busy but I need to find at least ten minutes to do some quilting. I’ve got to satisfy my hobby.”

Joyce Sullivan of Somers’ Heritage Hills took up quilting shortly after her husband passed away more than 20 years ago. “I was trying to fill in time and boy has it ever done that,” she said. “There is always something new to learn. Always new tricks. In the last few years I’ve gotten interested in art quilting but I like this group too because it’s traditional.” Art quilting incorporates other materials, such as paper and beading.

Karen Carlson and Carol Auer co-facilitate the group. Carlson, a 15-year veteran, explained, “We make quilts for charities like women’s shelters, hospices and child welfare agencies. We’ve made 24 quilts for the Ronald McDonald House. But usually when we make them, we don’t know where they’ll end up.”

Quilting has grown in popularity since the bi-centennial in 1976, Carlson pointed out. “These days there are lots more tools, lots more fabrics, a lot more quilt shows and lots more people involved.”

Auer, who made her first quilt in 1973, added, “A lot of material is donated. Most of our supplies are contributed by Northern Star members. I love the camaraderie and developing my skills. You can try new patterns on things that you’re not invested in.”

Everyone brings her own kit and her own sewing machine to the sessions. Quilt size is usually limited by the width of the fabric. The normal size is 44 inches by 60 inches. “We have fun and we feel productive,” said Carlson. “If you like to make them -- you like to make them.”

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