By Danielle Kutchel
When St John’s Quilters began with just 12 members 10 years ago, those involved never dreamed that their group would grow as quickly and successfully as it has.
Over that decade members have joined the Cranbourne-based group from as far afield as Pakenham and Dandenong, and it now counts around 60 people as regular members.
St John’s Quilters hold sewing days every Wednesday and on the third Saturday of each month at St John’s Anglican Church in Cranbourne.
Members can bring along a quilting project they’re currently working on, or they might work on one of the many group projects that the quilters complete.
Over the years, they’ve lovingly created and donated numerous quilts to cover premature babies in their incubators at Casey Hospital.
They’ve also sewed tiny quilts with donated fabric for mothers who have lost a child in a neo-natal death or stillbirth; these are wrapped around the little baby so Mum can hold them.
When a member’s daughter was placed in a nursing home with a hereditary brain disease, the quilters rallied to hold a charity day to make 14 quilts for the home – one for every bed.
And they’ve helped in other ways too, holding Biggest Morning Teas to raise funds for the Cancer Council and donating money to support those recovering from the Gippsland bushfires.
Founder Dianne Mitchell said it’s about much more than sewing; the group provides a social outlet for its members as well as an opportunity to learn new skills.
Tutors are regularly invited to the meetings as guest speakers, to speak about their quilting journey and share tips and tricks.
“We’re a busy little group!” Ms Mitchell said.
She said members have made firm friendships over the years, sharing not just their sewing, but laughs and a cup of coffee.
Members have told her they feel safe and welcomed in the group, which has no restrictions on membership.
“When it gets to the stage where we can’t fit people in, we’ll have to think more about that!” she laughed.
Reflecting on St John’s Quilters’ recent 10th birthday celebration, Ms Mitchell said she still enjoys the group as much as she did ten years ago.
“It’s seeing the happy contented people and seeing the beautiful work they do. We have some lovely quilters in the group and it’s a joy really, you keep on going to see their smiley faces,” she explained.
“I think it’s the general feel of goodwill that everybody brings to the room.”
Outside of lockdown, St John’s Quilters meet on Wednesdays 10am-1pm at St John’s Anglican Church and on the third Saturday of each month from 10am-3pm. Membership is $10 per year, plus a small room rental cost of $5 on a Saturday and $3 on a Wednesday.
The group is currently seeking funding to purchase new stronger trestle tables to sew on. For more information, please contact the church.