Story of infant's surgery touches quilters

Prayer quilt created in time for hospital trip
Sep. 12, 2013 @ 09:20 AM

A sign atop the entrance of a plain, one-story building in a sharp bend of Hartland Road near the Burke County line says "Hartland Coffee Shop," but the building sits empty most of the time.

Each Thursday a band of women who share not only a lifeteime of friendship but also a love of quilts brings the building to life. Most are members of Littlejohn United Methodist Church in Gamewell, where about two years ago the church's women's group wanted a quilt for a church raffle. The Hartland Quilters was born.

Louise Corpening, 83, is the annointed leader by virtue of her quilting skills.

"She's been quilting for 15 years. Louise taught us how to quilt," Betty Marcum said. "It's something I've always wanted to learn to do."

Soon, family and friends, and the church, were receiving quilts. The "cottage industry," as the women call it, was in full swing.

"They learned very well," Corpening said. "I taught them how to pick out material, cutting, choosing the fabric designs, and machine-quilting."

Last month, their attention was caught by a story in the News-Topic about Monica Blanton's baby daughter, Madison Rae, who needed life-saving surgery at Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem due to a heart defect that limits blood flow to her heart and lungs.

"We all read about Monica and Madison, and so I brought the idea to the class," Corpening said. "We had talked about doing things in the community. It was a no-brainer."

They set about making a prayer quilt. The idea behind a prayer quilt is simple: A heavy thread is used to take stitches through the quilt layers, and the ends are left free to be tied with square knot. As each knot is tied, a silent prayer is said for someone in special need, who then receives the finished quilt.

On Sept. 5, they brought their materials to the coffee shop and got to work. Made using blind stitches and a cotton binding, the flannel quilt quickly came together. Stitched into the quilt was a message: "This quilt was made with love for Madison. Each knot represents a prayer that was said for you."

The goal was to finish the quilt before Madison's surgery. As the group was putting the finishing touches on the quilt last week, Blanton and Madison Rae arrived to pick it up. Members of the group carefully placed the quilt on Madson as she lay in her carrier.

"There aren't any words," Blanton told the quilters through tears. "It's just amazing to see how God's working, with all the love and support. This means more than you'll ever know."

Madison had her surgery Wednesday morning at Brenner and was recovering Wednesday, the prayer quilt gently atop her.