Thursday, 31 January 2019

Bayside Quilters: Where creativity meets compassion

By Saihini Naidoo

Bayside quilters donate over 200 quilts per year to SECASA which have on them a label ‘a quilt from the heart made with love for you’.  For many of our clients they have never been given anything that has been made especially for them.  Bayside quilters are absolutely wonderful to do this for our clients.  Our manager, Carolyn Worth, goes to their AGM each year to talk about the quilts and what a difference they make to the lives of our clients.

The story behind the label

The quilters wanted to have a label that said ‘a quilt from the heart made with love for you’ but then one of them got worried that people might not know how to wash them properly.  So one year they changed the label to washing instructions.  Our manager pointed out that, while washing instructions were very practical, they might not be as useful for our clients as the words ‘a quilt from the heart made with love for you’.  So now the label includes both the love from the heart message and a small line at the bottom on how to care for them.

About Bayside quilters

Bayside Quilters [ ] is a community group which strives to encourage and support the art of patchwork and quilting in its local community. Through the work of its members, the group also provide support to local charities such as Very Special Kids, the Sandringham Hospital neonatal unit and the premature baby unit at the Mercy Hospital in Heidelberg.
Members range from ages 30 to 80 years and meet once a month on a Saturday, at the Beaumauris Library from 10am onwards. There is also an annual retreat where members get together in a different setting to socialise and improve their quilting skills.
Marg Armstrong, a longstanding member of Bayside Quilters, explained that the organisation recently celebrated its 15th birthday. Whilst this years’ celebration was subdued, the Bayside Quilters’ 10th birthday five years’ prior, attracted a catered lunch and the uniting of members both old and young.
Mrs Armstrong described herself as sewer and a quilter. She explained that she used to sew her own clothes when she was young, taking after her Mother who also had an interest in this area.
“Sewing is my creative outlet” she said.
Founding member Mrs Helen Heimann explained that the organisation did not always have the reach that it does now. “We started off with 30 to 40 members and now we have [approximately] 160 in total”.
Mrs Heimann was also grateful for grants from Bayside Council and Bendigo Bank. She explained that these funds enable Bayside Quilters to purchase useful materials such as fabric and wadding which are essential to quilting.
Bayside Quilters has a strong commitment to community values. In addition to the aforementioned charities, the organisation also donates funds to Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, Cancer research and homelessness. Furthermore, the proceeds from the soup and rolls served at monthly meetings are also donated to drought relief.
Mrs Heimann explained that members of Bayside Quilters are conscious of making quilts for children and adults. She also said that she loved receiving letters from quilt recipients, as that made the organisation’s work worth it.
“We love our sewing our quilts and love knowing that they go to a worthy cause” she said.
“It is very rewarding to know that it means so much to these people and that is why Bayside Quilters as got to where it is today”.
In some of SECASA’s counselling rooms there are quilts hung on the walls.  One client commented on how beautiful a particular quilt was so the counsellor gave her the quilt.  The client said it was the best gift she’d ever been given.  The counsellor thought, sadly, that this was true. A long term SECASA client had been ill in hospital and her counsellor took a quilt to her in hospital.  Not only did it brighten up her room, but it let her know that people were still thinking of her because she didn’t have a lot of people in her life.
From a counsellor:  “… my clients are always thrilled to receive a quilt, every one of them.  I get so much pleasure in seeing the happiness on their faces as their eyes light up and their faces break out into a wide smile.  They feel cared for and really special as I explain how some women get together to make these special quilts and the concept of a safety blanket…  One said “I don’t get gifts so this is really special.  I feel loved.”  A 7 year old client told me she took it to her school the next day (after receiving the quilt) to show it to her friends and now she takes it for every seep over.

Some quilts are very personal. One quilter talked about her specialty quilt. She said it had a piece of a dress she had as a baby, a piece of her wedding dress, a piece from a waistcoat her father wore etc. A specialty quilt may take years to complete and is filled with memories.
Bayside quilters donate over 200 quilts per year to SECASA which have on them a label ‘a quilt from the heart made with love for you’

One of my clients, a gorgeous 5 year old boy.. called his quilt Scooby Doo and brought [it] to every counselling session. He apparently took the quilt to every outing (even tried to take it to school) and said it was the best thing ever”.


I was so happy to receive a quilt and bear as a gift from my social worker. It felt like I had won a prize and I was flooded with joy”.


When I am down, I reach for my favourite blankie. We’ve been through many a hard time together


Upon finding out that Bayside Quilters are made my special people who want to let clients know that they are loved and cared for: “I just look at it on the top of my bed, where I have placed it, and I feel their love”

 Marg Armstrong and Judith Baxter from Bayside Quilters

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