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Quilters Make Creativity Fun

Making a quilt to throw over the bed or huddle in beside the winter fire is an ancient skill and a useful hobby. But it's far more than that to Polly Hutchins, who teaches the simple appliqué quilt making class for the Riverbank Recreation Department.

Hutchins gets really excited about quilt making, waxes almost poetic on the subject and can infect you with her enthusiasm.

"I'm really teaching you to get your creative juices running," she said. "You take a couple of patches to the fabric store, come across other patches and fabrics. And the quilt you were making for someone else, you are now making for yourself.

"There are wonderful colors and textures to be mixed. You start with a blank palette and use your imagination. You can have fishes and turtles for children, or more abstract stuff for adults. It's all in the cut and the color and the balance. It's fun. And after all that, after you've made it, you can stay warm in it too."

A well-made quilt with the batting (interior padding) sewn at close intervals into it will go through the washer and dryer without problems. The complicated ones can take up to a year to make but last forever.

"Anyone can quilt. You don't have to do it on a sewing machine. You can put patches together on a table. There are no rules. You can't plan a quilt. It plans you."

Hutchins started sewing at the age of 12, mostly clothes for her dolls and later clothes for herself.

"My mother was not a seamstress but an artist. I got my love of color from mom. My medium is fabric. My mom and I used to make hats with batting. We sometimes intended a purse and finished with a hat," Hutchins explained.

The next skill Hutchins wants to learn is spinning so she can work with wool and learn to dye it.

There were only three members in her class, Cindy Palmer, Pat Williams and Michele Garcia, in the beginners' class at the Riverbank Community Center on March 17. The class has nearly run its course, though it will return in the fall. Still, the four of them - instructor and students - intend to stick together to finish the quilts they have started, class or no class.

Applicants for her class often call ahead to see what patches and fabrics in what shapes and colors they should bring. She tells them simply to bring a pad and pencil for the first class. She wants to get that creativity moving.