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Queens Chronicle

A stitch in time for the winter chills

APEC now offering quilting club

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:24 am, Thu Feb 20, 2014.

Sew... is that worn-out blanket not enough to keep you warm this winter? Let the quilting club at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston provide a seamless path to warmth.

Every Monday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 228-06 Northern Blvd., participants come together to help each other stitch their way to comfort. Just don’t expect to put down that thread once spring hits.

“Once you start, you can’t stop,” Phyllis R. Pack said of her love for quilting. Back in November, Pack, a retiree from Astoria, wanted to find a place to donate her stack of 300 quilting books she had collected over the years and visited APEC as a possible location.

Not having space for her library, Pack and APEC opted for the next best option for sharing knowledge, a quilting club.

Pack’s fascination with quilting began when she saw Eleanor Burns, a celebrity in the quilting world, advertising an $18 kit complete with a rotary cutter and various tools to streamline the sewing process.

Back in 1986, Burns’ methods of using rips and strips in place of templates and scissors was considered the revolutionary technique. Now in 2014 it’s Facebook groups and patterns printed via a computer.

“This ain’t your grandma’s quilting club,” Pack said of the innovative methods used.

Every week, members bring in a quilting project to work on and share what they want to achieve. Based on the needs of the group, they might learn about a specific technique all together or break off to work on patches of their projects.

Recently, the members have been learning the “quilt-as-you-go” technique from Aimee Williams, a former teacher from East Elmhurst, who was first taught by Pack before the club was organized.

“We learn from each other,” Williams said about why she enjoys the group.

Williams’ skills have now led her to exhibit her creations at the Langston Hughes Library in Corona and the African-American Museum in Nassau County. Despite her high skill level, there’s always something new to learn and members can take turns teaching the class their specialty.

Another attendee, Liz Zapp, a retired pharmacist from Elmont, LI, has been involved with quilting for the past 15 years. She is also an example of how the quilting world has modernized over the last few years, having met Pack via an online bulletin board in the 1990s.

“We just wanted to go fabric shopping,” Zapp remembers of the reasons for first meeting. Today, the quilters will squeeze as many members as possible into a car for a road trip to a fabric store. It’s that communal and sharing aspect that Zapp says makes her regularly attend.

Many members such as Zapp have sewn quilts as gifts for loved ones and those in need. She has donated a few to women undergoing chemotherapy and prizes one she calls “Flying Geese” that she gave to her boyfriend.

Pack was once even offered $12,000 for a quilt she calls “Civil War,” which she gave to her brother. For her, however, the quilt, “truly made for love,” was not for sale.

What’s more important to Pack is that the members have a space to help each other.

When the club starts growing, since poor weather has led to many cancellations this season, Pack hopes to use the strength in numbers to create a large quilt with everyone so that APEC can raffle it off.

To join in on the fun, call APEC at (718) 229-4000. Participation costs $3 for members and $5 for nonmembers of APEC.

Welcome to the discussion.