Pisgah Sisterhood of Quilters makes comfort, piece by piece

Apr. 22, 2013 @ 04:13 PM

In the basement of Pisgah Baptist Church, eight women are making comfort.

Comfort, of course, isn’t a tangible thing. But a handmade quilt is about as close as it gets.

Since 2011, the Pisgah Sisterhood of Quilters has made a quilt for anyone the members think might need one – people who are sick, or have a new baby, or are confined in rest homes. Sometimes, it’s “just because.”

The group meets each Monday morning in a basement room dedicated as their own. The walls are lined with quilts they’ve made. In the corner rests a simple photo album featuring photos of grinning recipients holding up their quilts, with hand-lettered captions.

It started with a quilt for their pastor. Not long after that, the sisterhood made a quilt for Thelma Burton, the church’s piano player, who had cancer.

During her time in the hospital, Burton never let the quilt out of her sight. When she died, the quilt instead of flowers was draped over her casket.

“She said she could feel the love in that quilt,” quilter Shirley Crisp said.

Each of the eight women in the group – JoAnn Nichols, Thelma Coffey, Linda Ford, Billie Hood, Sybil Myers, Shirley Crisp, Debbie Price and Alma Arney – took different paths to the little room in the basement.

Nichols was a prize-winning quilter already. Others had never made a quilt. Most had sewn and quilted with their mothers as children, or when their own sons and daughters were growing up.

But now, on Monday mornings, they’re all working on pieces of the same quilt. When you round the corner in the basement, you can hear the whir of the sewing machines and the laughter rising above it.

The “sisterhood” part of the name doesn’t come from nowhere. Sometimes they laugh and sometimes they cry, the quilters said, but they do it all together.

They’re prolific quilters, too. In 2012, they made 56 quilts and gave 48 away. This year, they’ve already made their way through 10.

Each quilt they give away has a label sewn in, letting you know it’s been made especially for you by the Pisgah Sisterhood of Quilters.

They stay until noon on Mondays, usually – sometimes 1 or 2.

“Sometimes we get carried away,” Nichols said.

And the more people hear about what the sisterhood does, the more donated fabric makes its way through their door. Two of their sewing machines were donated, and most of their fabric and supplies are as well.

“The more we make,” quilter Linda Ford said, “the more we get.”

Quilter Billie Hood said the rest of the experience is reciprocal that way, too – as it turns out, receiving a warm, handmade quilt isn’t the only way to find comfort.

“The quilts not only bless the people who get them,” Hood said. “They bless us.”