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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County quilters find and bring comfort to others through their craft

DTH Quilt 2.jpg
DTH Photo Illustration. The Seymour Quilters have been meeting over Google Hangout's in lieu of in person meetings due to COVID-19. For member Susan Zeisel, "it's a way to stay connected and show what you've been working on."

Quilting seems to be a hobby of the past, but UNC first-year Olivia Sallis has found it and used it as a way to destress and manage her time.

Through projects like a colorful going-away quilt for her Spanish teacher a few years back to selling custom-made quilts through Facebook, Sallis has made it both a unique hobby and a business that she can learn from.

“I learned financial skills and marketing skills from quilting,” Sallis said. “I made a website for my business so I learned a bunch of skills from quilting in general. Also, the actual art of quilting requires a lot of detail and dexterity.”

Sallis is not alone in the business of making quilts for commission, friends and family. A local quilting group, Seymour Quilters, has made it a social opportunity to encourage each other in creating their various personal projects.

In the past, the Seymour Quilters met weekly to work together and quilt for charity, but since the pandemic, their meeting format has changed. Instead, they meet online every other Monday to stay connected and share their quarantine creativity. 

Seymour Quilting newcomer Sara Peach found the group in February and went to three meetings in person before the group moved online.

She said the online experience works because many of the women are familiar with each other. 

"It's a very relaxed, social, welcoming group, and it's a lot better than not seeing any of these people or their work,” Peach said.

One pillar of the quilting group is that they donate their artwork to various charities around the country. Group organizer and long-time quilter Susan Zeisel has taken this into consideration when selling her pieces, and has made it a point to use the money that she has earned through quilting for more supplies, rather than for personal use.

“I only sell them to make money to buy more fabric,” Zeisel said. “I don't make a profit. I don't get paid for my time essentially. I just do it because I love it. I try and learn new things all the time, and it keeps me challenged doing that.”

Peach said she joined the group because of the charity approach. The group donates quilts to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for underprivileged kids. 

“One of the things that drew me to the Seymour group is that they do a lot of donation quilts, and this is for area hospitals, pediatric units, hospice,” Peach said.

Whether it be the quilts they are working on for California wildfire survivors or the pillowcases they made for the Orange County Department of Social Services, the Seymour quilters' donations have made an impact in Chapel Hill and across the country. 

“We do this because we want to do this,” Zeisel said. “Not because we want a thank you.”


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