Quilting is alive and well in Dozier

Published 7:43 am Thursday, October 21, 2010

Emma Jane Ellison works on an “aster” quilt at the Dozier community center.

While Gee’s Bend may lay claim to the most famous group of quilters in Alabama, Crenshaw County features its own group keeping the tradition alive.

Every weekday morning, visitors to the Dozier community center can find a group of seniors gathered around a large wooden frame that covers much of a room.

Stretched across that frame is the current quilting project.

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“We always meet about 7:30 in the morning and quilt until lunch,” said director Mildred Boland.

Finishing a quilt usually takes about a week, and Monday is usually the day an old quilt is finished and a new one is begun.

“We can put them out in as little as three days,” Boland said.

Despite the fact that a lot of hard work goes into the quilts, it’s not a job for those who work on them.

“I look forward to it every day,” said Emma Jane Ellison. “I love it. I didn’t sit still long enough to learn how to do it from momma, but I came down and these ladies taught me so much.”

Other quilters enjoy different aspects of the activity.

“I’ve got thousands of quilt patterns,” said Eva Stringer. “I’ve been collecting them since I was in high school, and I’ve got thousands of them. You can just be driving along and pick out quilt patterns everywhere. There’s just something that gets in your blood.”

“It’s a great hobby to have,” agreed Addie Hudson.

In addition to providing a pastime, quilting also accomplishes several other goals.

Much like the days before television and the telephone, sitting around a quilt offers the opportunity to catch up on the day’s news and discuss current issues.

The Dozier quilters also say that it’s about preserving the art of using a needle and thread.

“Kids just don’t know how to do this,” Boland said. “Before long, it’s going to be a thing of the past.”

The quilting has been going on in Dozier for 10 or 15 years, and Boland helped start the activity after moving to the area after she retired.

While no one’s sure of the exact number of quilts they’ve worked on, Boland took a guess.

“We’ve probably done 500 or more,” she laughed. “I’ve supplied all my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids with them.”

That’s what happens to the quilts: they take turns bringing in new quilts to work on, and when one is finished, its owner takes it home.

Currently, the project is what’s called an “aster” quilt, and the quilters recently finished a quilt with a “double wedding-ring” pattern.

There aren’t any plans to stop quilting anytime soon, either.

“Quilting is really a blessing for us,” Boland said.