A Group of Women, Dream and a Heart

Peggy Salo

Many stories and fables from our youth begin with “Once upon a time…” so this month we will trace the origin of the Robson Ranch Material Girls Club.

In the beginning there were four or five women with a love of sewing. Under the guiding hand of Barbara Hunt, a sewing club was started with Bea Pressler, Nancy Stogsdill, Beverly Haffer and Gayle Strack who dragged their machines, cutting mats, rotary cutters, rulers and fabric to the Sports Center to sew in one-half of the Toltec Room one morning a week. The women were only able to store an iron and table-top ironing board in that room. In spite of the energy expended, most of these women are still members of the current club.

During the winter of 2009, Pat Zumach and Bea Pressler decided to create a new club with 20 members with an emphasis on quilting, separate from the existing sewing club. Early projects, in addition to their personal projects, included the Christmas stocking project and two boot wall hangings constructed for a raffle that year which were both won by our own residents. Dreams swirled around during summer of 2009 when Betty Murphy asked the club for a wish list of items we would desire if we were to have our own room. A list was created with input from the members, and in January/February 2010 the club moved into our current room, Studio 2 in the Creative Arts Center outside the front gates at Robson Ranch. The club received almost everything they requested but were especially grateful for the longarm quilting machine Mr. Robson gave the club at a later date. Bea Pressler and Mary Syer continue educating club members on the intricacies of using this special machine.

In the fall of 2010 the club began making raffle quilts and selling tickets at various community venues to raise money to purchase fabric and additional supplies to make comfort and charity quilts. In addition to giving quilts to residents in Robson Ranch whenever there is a serious illness or a death of a spouse, each year a special charity is chosen to receive quilts.

Why do women and men quilt? Quilting, as we now know it, is truly part of Americana with the origin from European roots. It started out of necessity making plain fabric bed coverings (wool and cotton) and decorative hand quilting over plain fabric. The patterns of “New-world Quilting” express history, family stories, quilts that guided slaves running north to escape slavery, special artwork but most have been made out of love for family and friends. The possibilities are endless.

Hence the title of this article: A small group of women had a vision of expanding a hobby, dreamed big and created a club that provided an outlet for creativity and an opportunity to reach out to others. Now that’s a club with a heart!