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Prison-made quilts go to kids in foster care

CCQ receives thanks for donationsCCQ recently donated quilts made in our classes at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility to Kinship House, a Portland nonprofit that serves kids in foster care. We received a touching thank-you letter.

Dear Coffee Creek Quilters,

We truly appreciate your selecting Kinship House as the beneficiary of your efforts. Your decision to provide your handmade quilts to children in foster care was heart felt and very touching.

We had several children walk up with wide eyes to the selection available and touch the blankets with hesitant hands, as though they could not believe that something so beautiful could be meant for them.

One young girl was told by her foster parents that she already had enough blankets at home, that she did not need another one. But for several weeks she would ask to see a certain quilt, blue and brown with pictures of kittens. For some reason this particular quilt called to her. Finally she convinced her Dad to let her trade in one of her blankets to be able to take that blanket home. The day she was allowed to carry it out the door, she cradled it in her arms so tenderly. I am sure that blanket will be with her for many years.

Everyone who heard where the quilts came from understood the importance of the connection between those making the quilts and the children and families receiving them. They felt the love, the sorrow and the hope that each blanket represented.

We are truly grateful to have been a part of your program!


Tia Shows
Kinship House


You can learn more about Kinship House at their website.

Class time with Coffee Creek Quilters

Class time at CCCFPeople often ask us how we structure our quilting classes at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.

In some ways it’s the same as a class in a quilt shop. Instructors explain the basics of cutting strips of fabric with rulers, rotary cutters, and mats. Students learn to thread a sewing machine, sew quarter inch seams, and follow a pattern.

In other ways, CCQ classes are very different. Prison security rules require that we count every pin, needle, and rotary cutter blade before taking them in to class. We pass through a metal detector before entering the dining room where class is held. And there are restrictions on the color of clothing we can wear, such as no blue jeans.

Our goals are similar to quilt shop classes, but with some differences. We want our students to become proficient in quilt-making techniques. But we also strive to teach patience, perseverance, problem-solving and the importance of quality work. We work to nurture our students’ self-confidence and self-esteem, attributes that we hope will enhance their success at living in the community after release from prison.

CCQ instructor quilts in Stitches in Bloom show

Stitches in bloomThree CCQ instructors entered quilts in the recent Stitches in Bloom quilt show at The Oregon Garden in Silverton.

Mary Ann McCammon, who teaches in our Thursday afternoon class, entered her art quilt “Blue is not my favorite color,” pictured at left. Mary Ann made this quilt in recognition of the limited choices experienced by incarcerated women who are required to wear navy blue tee shirts, blue sweatshirts, and blue jeans, all boldly labeled with the word “inmate.” The quilting program at CCCF is an opportunity for women to learn life enhancing skills — and they get to choose the colors for their quilts.

Dee Burson, an instructor in our Tuesday evening class, won a People’s Choice award in the art category for her “Pachyderm Posies” quilt pictured at left. Although Dee has been sewing/crafting/quilting for 30+ years, this was her first attempt at an art quilt and her first submission to a quilt show outside of her guild. We think it’s pretty impressive!

Nancy Dudley, an instructor in our Tuesday morning class, won a People’s Choice award in the the traditional quilt category for her quilt titled “The Flowers that Bloom on My Quilt Tra La.” We regret that we don’t have a picture of Nancy’s quilt to post here.

Stitches in Bloom is an annual event featuring beautiful quilts, vendors selling quilting wares, lectures by featured artists and demonstrations by quilting vendors. Additional information can be found on the Oregon Garden website. Mark your calendars for next year’s show on January 22-24, 2016.