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Get your sewing machines ready

Quilting is therapeutic, creative outlet

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Cindy Kaufman, owner of Family Quilt Shop, sews together pieces of fabric in her quilting studio.

If you can sew a straight line, you can quilt.

That’s Cindy Kaufman’s philosophy.

Kaufman, owner of the Family Quilt Shop, 1200 A St., said learning how to make a quilt is easy.

“There are classes they can take,” Kaufman said. “Most classes in most shops, they find an easy pattern and have them do that.”

In Kaufman’s classes, she teaches block patterns like “flying geese” and “hour glasses” to beginners.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Cindy Kaufman, owner of Family Quilt Shop, sews together pieces of fabric in her quilting studio.

However, with most businesses closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Kaufman’s quilting studio has been quite empty of quilters for the past month.

Although the classes are canceled and the store’s doors are closed to shoppers for the time being, Kaufman said she is still working on quilts herself and can take individual orders of materials for customers to pick up.

The quilting veteran is always eager to assist a new quilter.

“I help anybody that needs it because I have been doing this for 48 years,” she said. “I just like to help.”

One thing Kaufman sees new quilters struggling with is cutting the fabric they plan to use.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Plenty of pre-cut fabrics are available at Family Quilt Shop, 1200 A St.

“You’re not cutting with scissors, you’re cutting with rotary cutters,” she said. “To get them so that they can keep the ruler steady and keep the measurement right is probably one of the hardest problems, but it doesn’t take long to get going on it.”

Jo Seltz, owner of Tillies Quilts, 17 S. 12th St., said that while more people are focusing on sewing non-medical face masks right now, she did get a lot of people interested in quilting when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations of staying home first began.

Although her store is also closed and quilting classes canceled, Seltz said she is also able to put together orders of materials for quilters to come pick up.

Seltz thinks that quilting is a great activity for individuals and families to do while they’re having to spend more time at home with social distancing.

“I think lots of times the ladies, whether they’re quilting with friends or family, they do it for that socialization,” she said. “You can be talking while you’re working. A lot of family conversations and different topics can come up with that.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Cindy Kaufman, owner of Family Quilt Shop, holds one of her favorite quilts in her store. While the store is closed to shoppers, quilters can still make orders with Kaufman to pick up.

For younger kids, quilting can be educational, she said. Kids can learn math and fractions while measuring and cutting out fabric. They also learn what colors look good together when quiltmaking.

“There are little kids that start it with their grandmas and make doll quilts and stuff like that,” Kaufman added. “Or they can do ‘scrapping,’ where they sew scraps together until it gets big enough to be a quilt. You just keep making more of those blocks to put together. If you get scraps, you can play with those.”

Using scraps to quilt is a great way to create a totally one-of-a-kind quilt, she said.

“They were called ‘crazy quilts’ in generations before and they turned out beautiful,” Kaufman said.

For those who may be running short on fabric, other materials can be used to quilt, like old T-shirts.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Cindy Kaufman, owner of Family Quilt Shop, has many books with hundreds of quilting patterns available for purchase.

“A great memory quilt for those kids from their high school years,” Seltz said. “It showcases those high school years for those kids.”

Quilting is “good for you,” Seltz said.

“It’s great therapy when you’re sitting there sewing — you’ve got time to think of different things,” she said. “I encourage people to do some sewing during this time. When you’re done, you feel like you’ve accomplished something, there’s something that you’ve created with your hands.”

Quilters can find plenty of quilting patterns and designs at either shop, or they can find hundreds available online as well. For those just learning how to quilt, YouTube features plenty of introductory videos.

Family Quilt Shop can be reached at 515-576-0295. Tillies Quilts can be reached at 515-576-6265.

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