They gather in a classroom at Faith Tabernacle Church in Hollister, what was the former Harris Chapel Baptist Church on Highway 561.
This is the second incarnation of the classes started by Mary Ann Qualls and the group is nearing its third year.
Qualls had a previous class which went for 10 years.
While Qualls is the founder, the women gathered today learn from each other.
Qualls has been quilting since 1980. “I taught myself, visited people who quilted. I made my own quilting frame. I wanted to learn and wanted to share it with others.”
At 84, she is a retired school teacher, who raised four children and started teaching when her youngest child started kindergarten.
It took her four years to get to the point she felt comfortable enough to teach the craft, learning it from a variety of quilters, including one lady who quilted on her knees. “I get so much joy. I wanted them to enjoy it.”
On the first Saturday of the month, Qualls said, “We lose ourselves in our quilts.”
One of the members of the class, Laura Richardson, is an experienced quilter. “I’ve been doing this since I could get up to the sewing machine. It’s relaxing. When you’re doing it, it’s all you think about.”
Sharon Golliday is new to quilting and has been working on her first one for the past year.
Qualls has been her mentor in the effort. “She doesn’t really teach you, she pulls it out of you. She says everybody has it in them, they just need to pull it out.”
For her first effort, Golliday is concentrating on squares. “Squares are much easier.”
She enjoys the monthly classes. “It’s not only a chance to do artistic stuff but to get together.”
Lucy Richardson has been quilting for 30 years. “I think it’s a puzzle. I find it’s something challenging. It’s just relaxing. If you get keyed up, it brings you back to even.”
Gracie Boone can find herself quilting until 2 in the morning. “You lose track of time. I’ve found it’s a place where I can escape.”
Despite learning quilting from her grandmother, she still learns tips and tricks from Qualls.
Catherine Richardson is working on her ninth quilt in the class. She made five for her grandchildren. “I always have sewn a little. I like this better than anything.”
It’s about the colors and patterns, she said. “I love to use my fingers.”
There is a mutual respect for each other in the class, Qualls said. “I love them to death. They’re so good to me. We have the best time.”
Quilting isn’t the only thing Qualls does, Golliday said. “She builds furniture, does cane chairs. You can’t tell Ms. Qualls you can’t do something.”
Said Qualls: “I’m always busy.”
She has made a bed out of oak, a hutch and made her own quilting cabinet.
She taught Latin in school and explains the word educate doesn’t mean packing information in, but pulling the ability already there out.
Teaching quilting, doing woodworking and canning vegetables from her garden is one of the ways Qualls stays active.
Then there are the members of the quilting class. “I love these people. They teach me. It’s the camaraderie.”
For Lucy Richardson, it’s also about the camaraderie. “I love Ms. Qualls. I learn from everybody. I get motivation from them. It’s just good fellowship.”