The Castle Quilters
Quilting Together for More than 20 Years

Mary Hanson started a quilting group called Castle Quilters in 1998. The group is named after the Rochester Senior Center’s location at the time—the Castle building in Rochester. “We started having beginner classes about how to sew and quilt. We’ve been together since 1998 and have seven or eight from the original group,” she explains.

“We’re small but mighty,” says Hanson of the 17-member group she leads. “They’re all very active and open to helping out organizations.” Hanson notes the group consists of retired nurses, teachers and retail workers. They are all members of 125 Live, where they meet every Monday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

A quilting family
“We’re together, like a family. Everyone is supportive,” says Hanson. “Each girl has their own niches, and we have beginners to advanced quilters.” Each of their meetings includes having coffee, sharing what they’re working on, a business meeting and, of course, spending time quilting together. Hanson points out you don’t need to know how to quilt to be part of the group. “We have beginning classes about how to quilt. We’re very accepting.” The Castle Quilters is one of the social groups at 125 Live, and anyone who is a 125 Live member can join the group. All ages are welcome.
Regarding the quilting designs, Hanson mentions, “We have a couple designers in the group that come up with the designs. We have some plain squares. Some are plain, fancy or really nice.”

Giving back to the community
Every year, the Castle Quilters donate quilts and other handmade items to local organizations. “We now have 20 organizations we give to each year,” shares Hanson. They also ask the organizations about their needs each year and try to accommodate them the next year. In an average month, Hanson notes that the ladies in the quilting group log more than 800 volunteer hours. In addition to working on the quilts at their meetings, the ladies in the group bring their work home to continue sewing.

Quilting sales and fun
The Castle Quilters have sales every July and November. Besides large quilts, the group also makes many other handmade items including garment protectors, lap quilts, children’s quilts, Christmas quilts and tote bags.

The proceeds of the annual sales go to a 125 Live fund the group uses to buy supplies, as well as an annual bus trip for the members of the quilting group. The trip is a thank-you to the group, explains Hanson. She says they take a day trip to a nearby town for shopping and lunch together. “We also have a ‘quilt fairy’ that comes, and each person gets a bag of fabric to take home,” she says. “They must do something and make something out of it.”
Whether they’re working or playing together, sewing is a literal thread that ties this group together

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Alison is a writer and editor living in Rochester, Minnesota, with her two dogs and her cat.

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