Skip-A-Week Quilt Club celebrates 90 years of fun, friendship, giving

by: Gus Jarvis The Skip-A-Week Quilt Club members, from left, Penny Kampf, Bea Morales and Judy Terrill discuss a quilt at last week’s meeting.

Ninety years ago, residents from around the Estacada region began meeting every-other week to socialize and create beautifully handcrafted quilts for their families and for those in the community in need of warmth.

Today, the Skip-A-Week Quilt Club tradition lives on stronger than ever, as the group meets on a weekly basis with nearly 50 members of all abilities. Attendees participate in all things quilting, from selecting fabric to putting in the last stitch of a beautifully finished quilt - the epitome of useable art.

'It's an art, so you can do your own thing,' Club President Martha Bachler said. 'You can do it in all different colors and in whatever way you want. The best thing is, they are usable. You can hang it on the wall or wear it out over time.'

The quilt club began in 1921 when a small group of women began meeting in their homes until the group grew to a size that required a larger meeting space. Finally, the Garfield Grange Building provided the space needed for the club to grow, and over the years, membership in the group has grown. On Wednesdays, members are spread throughout the building and take up almost every inch of space to fashion their quilts.

The group may be the oldest documented quilt club in Oregon, with many of today's members related to the club's founding members.

Skip-A-Week Quilt Club is dedicated to the community. It makes and donates quilts to the Estacada Fire Department to be given to people who have been burned out of their homes. The club also makes 'comfort quilts' for organizations such as the Children's Center for Abused Children in Oregon City, Grace House - a care center in Estacada for seniors - and Portland's Veterans Hospital, for patients and their families.

'They are very generous people,' club member Patricia Turner said. 'The group is very caring and always concerned about someone else. They are the most amazing people and I try to be here every week to be with them.'

'We have a really good bunch of girls here,' Bachler said during a Wednesday morning of quilting at the Grange building. 'We all get along really well. We have fun, we joke, we tease. We have really good friendships.'

Weekly meetings are held from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday, with members coming and going throughout the day. The first Wednesday of every month is not only a day of quilting but also a day of eating well. During its monthly business meeting, each member brings a dish to pass around. With all the wonderful homemade food, even some of their husbands show up for a meal and some quilt talk.

And while the club constantly focuses on helping those in need with their quilts, the group strives to be its own community within the greater community where members can enjoy the company of others and meet new community members as well.

Every year, the Skip-A-Week club passes out names of 'secret pals.' Throughout the year, each person remembers their secret pal at holidays with small gifts. The secret pal is a fun way members get acquainted with someone they did not know well.

It also teaches them how important it is to give and not necessarily be commended for it until the last meeting of the year, when all the secret pals present their final gift and are recognized.

'I think the camaraderie of everybody coming here, working on what they want and being together is what's special,' Bachler said. 'When we get talking, I suggest you don't be a husband because you are going to get talked about.'

The Skip-A-Week Quilt Club will celebrate its 90th anniversary at its annual quilt show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 22-23 at = Estacada High School. There will be quilts on display at the show, some of which will be available for purchase.