April 20, 2013 in City

Stitched out of heart

Unique quilts for kids help with hospital stays
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Adele Carter leads a group of members of the Washington State Quilters that makes quilts for children being treated at Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. She has made more than three dozen quilts over the years for sick children.
(Full-size photo)

If you go

Spokane Women’s Show

When: Today, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 a.m.-noon

Where: Spokane Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Cost: $5 admission; Race for the Cure participants get in free

Spokane chapter

The Spokane chapter of the Washington State Quilters has about 550 dues-paying members. They make and give away about 1,000 quilts a year to about 30 local and regional nonprofits. The chapter’s main fundraising event is the annual Quilt Show in October. For more information, visit www.wsqspokane.org.

The art of quilting usually isn’t associated with speed.

Longtime quilter Adele Carter, for example, just finished a project she’s been working on for 16 years.

But the 79-year-old north Spokane resident also has made a quilt in one day, for a seriously ill newborn who was expected to live just a short time. Carter still chokes up when she recalls the white quilt with its angel applique; she guesses the baby’s parents wanted to bury her wrapped in the blanket.

Carter never met that baby or her parents, but her blankets have comforted more than three dozen sick children over the years. Other members of the Washington State Quilters who are part of the same network likewise have produced special quilts reflecting kids’ interests. Members provide 40 to 60 quilts a year to patients at Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

Carter will talk about the program at the Washington State Quilters booth in the Spokane Women’s Show this weekend.

She made her first quilt for a hospital patient in 1995, featuring cats, for a little girl.

“Then the lady who asked me to do the quilt asked me to take over (the program). I was so hooked by that time I had to continue,” she said.

She keeps records in a recipe box of members and the quilts they’ve made. Some of the creations feature Angry Birds, dogs, butterflies, Harry Potter, eagles, helicopters, Notre Dame football, the board game Sorry and Tinkerbell.

Brynna Gang, of Moscow, Idaho, got a quilt three weeks ago that features hats.

“Very, very individual and interesting hats,” and in her favorite color, green, she said. The 13-year-old is undergoing chemotherapy at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital right now. “I think their quilts are beautiful,” she said.

Some requests are more challenging than others.

Tammy Brickner, the child life specialist at Sacred Heart who arranges the quilt requests and delivers the finished blankets to kids, once asked for a quilt featuring the ’70s rock band Kiss. Carter confesses she didn’t know what Kiss was, but the quilter who got the assignment found a pennant featuring band members that she used as the centerpiece.

Quilters who take part in the program buy the materials used in the quilts and typically produce them within a few weeks to a month, Carter said.

Brickner said she asks for rush orders from time to time. Yet no matter the lead time, the finished products are always “amazing, stunning quilts,” Brickner said.

Patients’ “eyes light up when they see these quilts. Several kids bring their quilts with them each time they come to the hospital,” she said.

Carter said her husband, Bill, sometimes asks her when she’s going to stop making quilts.

“I said, ‘When I can no longer thread a needle or no longer talk on the phone.’ ”

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