Raluca Giurgiu and Dolly Schmucker work on quilts as part of an inter-generational sewing program.

Not Your Grandma's Quilting Group

The cohort of quilters at Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Luke in Chicago, Illinois, is not your grandma’s quilting group. Or at least it’s not only your grandma’s quilting group.

Visit a quilting session and you’ll see middle school-aged workers alongside seasoned members, producing quilts that will make their way to Lutheran World Relief and, from there, people in need around the world. This effort started around 2000 as a way to bring older and younger members of the congregation together. It has since blossomed into a full-on, inter-generational passing of the sewing machine.

Students work with their counterparts to produce quilts while simultaneously getting lessons on how those quilts will impact people around the world and where they end up.

Laura Abrahamson, a co-coordinator of programs at St. Luke said she observed the children watching a video about quilts that had gone to Angola. The people receiving them were living in extremely harsh conditions. “I watched the kids as they watched. They were all very moved by it.” “It was a great feeling in my heart,” said Christopher Luna, 13. “You’re helping someone across the world.” “People feel like you really can’t make a difference when you’re younger. But you can,” said Raluca Giurgiu, 14.

In their first year the students get instructions on how quilts are made. By the time they leave they can create their own. “… This was the first time I did something with my hands that would help people,” said Giselle Escamilla, 13. “I know other people will be using it to keep warm.” Laura said boys tend to be good on the machines because she tells them manipulating the pedals is like driving a car. “The downside is from month to month they forget the procedure,” she laughs.