Ketchikan students turn quilt lessons into gifts

Keri Thomas, left and Nicole Cyr, center, hold a quilt they made and gave to Margaret McCombs at the Ketchikan Pioneer's Home Friday afternoon in Ketchikan, Alaska. The girls made the quilt in Linnea Troina's 5th and 6th grade class at Pt. Higgins school this last year. (AP Photo/Ketchikan Daily News, Hall Anderson)

KETCHIKAN — Students from Linnaea Troina’s fifth/sixth grade Point Higgins Elementary school class presented about 20 lap quilts to residents of Ketchikan Pioneer’s Home and Ketchikan General Hospital long-term care.


About 50 residents gathered Aug. 26 in the Pioneer’s Home dining area after an ice cream social with the students, while Troina and her students held up the quilts for the crowd to admire.

“We hope that they will keep you warm,” Troina told them, smiling. She held up a quilt with a backing of smiley face polka-dots in a rainbow of colors on a black background. The other side was bright with pink- and lavender-patterned 10-inch patchwork squares. One quilt was brightened with bumblebees.

“This is my first,” sixth-grader Mackenzie Fousel said, holding her quilt up to display the rainbow-hued swath of squares running from the top to the bottom of her quilt. She was in fifth grade when she did the project.

She said it took her four to five hours over a couple of weeks to finish, and she said she did all the work with no help.

Chasina Klein, also an incoming sixth grader, said she had some sewing experience from making a pillow previously that looked like an M&M.

Anna Warmuth, who was in sixth grade last spring, said that before the quilt project she didn’t know how to sew at all.

Terri Widmyer, another sixth grader last year, said she had made a no-sew blanket once. She grinned when she said that the quilting project “got me out of doing math.”

Kody Malouf said, “It was fun — it was challenging.” He said he stayed in voluntarily for “a lot of recesses” to finish the quilt. He said learning how to pin the pieces together was particularly difficult.

“I cut myself a few times,” he said, thrusting his fingertips out to show the tiny scars.

The students hand-crafted the quilts in school last spring. Troina taught the students piecing, sewing and pinning skills, and the students worked on the quilts at school, using machines provided by Troina. Walmart donated batting and thread for the project, and Rainy Day Quilters donated all of the fabric.

In addition to teaching her students about the craft of quilting, Troina taught them about the role that quilts played in the southern United States during the Civil War.

She told them that quilt sales were used as fundraisers for the Confederate army, and code-bearing quilts were utilized by the Underground Railroad to help slaves get to freedom.

At the Pioneer’s Home dining room, students offered shy smiles as they grasped each side of a quilt and laid it gently on a resident’s lap. Conversations bloomed between quilt-makers and recipients as the students bent to point out stitches and fabric designs.


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