Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

May 11, 2013

Senior Focus: Creating 'covers of love'

For over a year now, dedicated ladies — and a few gentlemen — have met faithfully, using their passion and talents to create more than 100 quilts for injured children and adults. The assembled group, called Stitches of Kindness, originated at the Senior Center Network’s satellite location in Interlochen and was founded by Linn Alessio.

“Linn first came to us at Interlochen in the grief support group after losing her husband,” said Sharon Neumann, outreach coordinator for the Senior Center Network. “She was searching for something to do that had meaning for the memory of her husband and her mother…ultimately, she realized that she wanted to do something with quilting.”

“I had lost my mother and my husband within nine months of each other,” Alessio explains. “Everyone grieves and honors their loved ones differently, but for me personally, the way that I could honor them the most was to give back some of the love and kindness they gave to me. Quilts had been in my family for years. To me, a quilt is not a blanket — a quilt is a cover of love.”

Quilting can be traced back to ancient Egypt and China, where three layers of fabrics — top, batting for warmth and backing — were stitched together in such a way as to keep the middle layer from slipping and clumping.

Quilting in America became popular in the 19th century and has become a unique American custom because it was developed as a blend of different ethnic and cultural traditions.

The patchwork and appliqué designs that were created are distinctly American. Quilts are also an important part of American Folk Art.

Once Alessio finalized the vision of what she wanted to do, Neumann put the program in place and secured time for it in the Senior Center’s schedule.

Alessio’s next step was to talk to a skilled quilter. In her case, that was Necia Bugai. Bugai helped Alessio select a good sewing machine model and came up with a few simple sewing designs for the quilts. With the sewing machines she purchased and a pile of material, she descended on the Senior Center in Interlochen.

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