Volunteers sew quilts for people with cancer

When the women of Victoria's Quilts Canada get together once a month, it's like watching a well-oiled machine run.

Victoria’s Quilts Canada has roughly 58 members in Victoria and Esquimalt who get together once a month and sew about 27 to 35 quilts for people living with cancer in B.C.

Victoria’s Quilts Canada has roughly 58 members in Victoria and Esquimalt who get together once a month and sew about 27 to 35 quilts for people living with cancer in B.C.

When the women of Victoria’s Quilts Canada get together once a month, it’s like watching a well-oiled machine run.

Each of the roughly 58 women who come to the meetings at the Oaklands Chapel have certain jobs — some lay out hundreds of pieces of fabric, others help iron the fabric, while others get to work sewing, turning the fabric into quilts to be delivered to babies, teenagers and adults in the province battling cancer.

“We’re like a well-oiled machine now. Everybody’s got their little thing that they do,” said Esquimalt resident and 64-year-old quilter Chris Magel. “It just hums along like it’s own little deal.”

Magel originally founded Victoria’s Quilts Canada’s local branch in May 2010, after stumbling upon the organization during a contest that involved going from one fabric store to another.

As part of the national organization, people with cancer can request quilts, which are then sewn and delivered by mail.

Magel began with just fabric and a sewing machine, delivering the quilts to those with cancer in Victoria. Since then, the group of volunteers has grown, from two quilters to about 58 in Victoria, and roughly 28 in Parksville, serving people around the province.

Many women in the group, who range from 50 to 70 years of age, sew quilts on their own time, then bring them to the monthly meetings to put on the finishing touches.

“These women have made quilts for everyone in their family, their pets, everyone they can think of, but they still want to quilt and have no one to quilt for,” Magel said.

“So many people are touched by cancer.”

Every month, they send between 27 to 35 quilts and have produced more than 1,300 in the last six years. Most recently, the group received a $2,000 donation from the Victoria Foundation, an organization that manages charitable gifts from donors. The grant will be used to purchase fabric for 20 quilts.

“You think about the poor individual who will be getting this quilt, you wonder if it’s going to be good enough, but the feeling that you get . . . it’s just a feeling that I have to do it,” Magel said, adding some of the quilters had cancer themselves.

“They knew what it felt like to have cancer. (Quilters) really feel like they’ve done something important and have helped that individual.”

Victoria’s Quilts Canada is always looking for new quilters. They meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oaklands Chapel (2736 Fernwood Rd.) For more information visit victoriasquiltscanada.com