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Posts Tagged ‘Young Quilters’

Young Canadian Quilters With Heart

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Road to California 2015 was quite the adventure for Alexus Jekill, age 11, and Charlotte Upitis, age 9. Both girls are from Calgary, Canada and both girls had their first ever quilts displayed in the special exhibit, The Next Generation.

[caption id="attachment_3204" align="aligncenter" width="593"]Photo by Gregory Case Photography Photo by Gregory Case Photography[/caption]

Alexus and Charlotte are not new to sewing. Charlotte has been sewing since she was four years old when she got her first sewing machine. Alexus has been sewing for the past two years. Both girls sew on Bernina sewing machines. Charlotte has the limited edition machine with peacock feathers and loves to sew clothing, purses, and accessories. Alexus has the limited edition with butterflies that she uses to sew pajamas. She also takes art classes at the Calgary School of Art where she has begun using fabric as one of her mediums.

Sewing for charities is a passion for both girls. They have sewn and donated clothing for Hats for Hearts, a Canadian fundraiser that raises awareness for stroke victims. Charlotte’s grandfather passed away from a stroke when Charlotte was 1 years old. She then had small hemorrhagic strokes in her cerebellum herself due to a sudden medical illness when she was two years old, requiring Charlotte to have to learn how to sit and walk again herself.

It was Charlotte’s mom, Kathryn Upitis, who found out about Road to California and the special exhibit. An article on Road’s blog about triplet girls who sewed attending Road 2014 first caught Kathryn’s interest because Alexus has a twin sister. Then, when she heard about The Next Generation special exhibit, she knew Alexus and Charlotte would want to enter.

The quilts Alexus and Charlotte entered in The Next Generation were the first quilts either girl had made. Both girls dedicated their quilts to a family friend, Toni Kohn Woodward, who had passed away last September from a heart embolism. At the time, Toni was in her 20’s and pregnant. The star on Charlotte’s quilts was added before the quilt show as a way everyone could remember Toni.

[caption id="attachment_3206" align="aligncenter" width="591"]Photo by Gregory Case Photography Photo by Gregory Case Photography[/caption]


Road to California was the first quilt show Charlotte and Alexus had ever been to. What did the girls think about seeing their quilts in person at the exhibit? Charlotte said, “I was so excited to see it. It made me happy.” Alexus added, “I thought it was crazy!”

Alexus and Charlotte are already planning for their next sewing projects: phone cases and backpacks.





A Field Trip Of Dreams

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Do you remember your elementary school field trips?

You probably went to a museum or to an art exhibit; the zoo or the fire station. Maybe you even went to a theatrical performance. For 5th and 6th grade students in the Quilt Club at Innovative Horizons Charter School, their field trip was to attend Road to California!!

[caption id="attachment_3037" align="aligncenter" width="662"]Photo by Gregory Case Photography Photo by Gregory Case Photography[/caption]


A low, socio-economic school located in the low, socio-economic Perris Elementary School District, Innovative Horizons Charter School’s  Quilt Club is in its second year under the direction of teacher (and quilter) Abbie Van Buskirk. The original intent of the club said Ms. Buskirk was to enable students to “learn to sew something for themselves and to sew something for them to give away.”

[caption id="attachment_3039" align="aligncenter" width="673"]_I4C8028 Photo by Gregory Case Photography[/caption]

This year, there are 25 fifth grade and ten sixth grade students participating in the after school club.  “I joined the Quilt Club to make quilts for people who need warmth in the cold,” said 5th grader Jesus Ayala. Added Cain Gonzales, another 5th grade student, “I wanted to make quilts for preemies.” 

The club meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 1-1/2 hours.  It has access to 8 Brother sewing machines which were donated to the school along with cutting boards and cutting tools. Students cut out their own projects using fabric donated by Ms. Van Buskirk and other faculty at the school. Christine Tober, a mom of one of the club members and a volunteer with the Quilt Club, said of the program, “My son has been in the Quilt Club for 2 years and has become an advanced quilter. I love the opportunity the club gives the kids not only to learn how to quilt, but for them to socialize, use their math skills, and participate in something.”

[caption id="attachment_3040" align="aligncenter" width="708"]_I4C8066 Photo by Gregory Case Photography[/caption]

Ms. Buskirk approached her school district and Road to California to attend the show. The district provided the buses from its art funding.  After a one hour bus ride, the students were greeted at the show by Road’s owner, Carolyn Reese, and well known quilter Eleanor Burns. Many of the students were familiar with Eleanor’s Quilt in a Day and so they treated her like a celebrity!!

And Eleanor was just as excited to see them. “I started sewing when I was young so I know firsthand the benefits of how sewing will keep you healthy and give you something to look forward to each day. I hope these children will keep sewing the rest of their life.”

The students were divided in to three groups and given a three hour tour of the show. Each group took turns learning about long arm quilting machines and cutting tools; visited the Celebrating 150 Years of California State Parks special exhibit and met with the Egyptian quilters at their special exhibit. They were thrilled with the special treatment they received and were inspired but what they saw.

Carolyn Reese enjoyed hosting the students.  “It’s important to let the younger generation experience the different aspects of quilting and learn that it’s much more than making blankets.”        

[caption id="attachment_3038" align="aligncenter" width="618"]_I4C8024 Photo by Gregory Case Photography[/caption]

For the Quilt Club of Innovative Horizons Charter School, going to Road to California was the field trip of their dreams!!