Archive | Prison quilting RSS feed for this section

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.

Prison quilting

Watch a video about Coffee Creek Quilters

Coffee Creek Quilters is featured in this video produced by, a web-based “TV show” from Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. It was filmed last August at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility by a TQS film crew and includes interviews with CCQ past president Mary Ann McCammon and several of our students in the Tuesday morning class. It was produced to run as part of TQS episode #1205 which features landscape quilter Sue Rasmussen.

We thank for their generosity in creating this video about our program and granting permission for us to include it on our website.

Prison quilting

A poem for CCQ students

CCQ classroomA presentation of our quilting program was made at the August CCCF Prison Advisory Committee meeting. Instructors described the program and a panel of four students told the committee what the program meant to them. Tom Swearingen, co-chair of the Advisory Committee and a cowboy poet, wrote a poem about our program. He was touched by the work our students do and wrote this poem to celebrate their efforts.



For the Coffee Creek Inmate Quilters

So, you say you want to be a giver, not a taker any more
And you’re committed to spend the time to tackle that big chore.
You’re working through the changes that you know you need to make
To get yourself together, no more hearts you want to break.
Including yours, because you know the trail that you’ve been on
Is one that leads to nowhere, except all kinds of wrong.
Why, it’s the one that brought you to the place you are right now
But you know there is a better path, and you’ll get on to it somehow.
Oh, it won’t be easy, it’s no quick short cut
It’s going to take full effort of your brains, your heart, your gut.
And support from good people that will help you make it through
And show you how to navigate the troubles you’ll come to.
But get on that good new road, and your future will unroll
You‘ll see the bright horizon even from the darkest hole.
You start by picking pieces of your life up off the floor
And putting them back together, but better than before.
Kind of like a quilter taking scraps and spools of thread
And creating a thing of beauty to grace a child’s bed.
Or making a treasure of memories for an old man’s final days
Stitching quits, giving comfort, in so many lives and ways.
Those little squares of yellow, they came from a worn out skirt
And that patch of blue that makes the sky, is from an old work shirt.
But it’s no matter where those scraps are from, or what they’ve all been through
It’s how they’re stitched together now, to make something clean and new.
So, you want to be a giver, not a taker any more
Grab some thread, and pick those pieces off the floor.
-Tom Swearingen

Prison quilting, Women in prison