Decades-old 'Quilters Workshop of Tampa Bay' has donated hundreds of quilts

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Festive fabrics, spools of thread and the soothing sounds of sewing machines; it is a quilter’s paradise inside the Bernina Sewing Center in Temple Terrace.

“We love to quilt. We would rather quilt than do about anything. We have signs in our house that say if you expect to eat here, you won’t because we don't cook, we quilt,” said Shirley Pope.

It’s a labor of love for the ladies of the Quilters Workshop of Tampa Bay. The organization has been around since 1978. Annette Kosis is one of the founding members; she’s been quilting for more than five decades and has the materials to prove it.

“I had a young lady at a quilt club meeting one time tell me that you never have too much fabric, but at 78, I may have too much,” Annette said. 

However, that doesn’t stop the ladies from adding to their collection. Like Pope, she finds patterns in the most unlikely places.

“I'm known as the trashy stripper because I like to take stuff out of the trash and make quilts out of it,” said Shirley. “Just because something has been thrown away doesn't mean that it can't be turned into an art project.”

They are as kind as they are creative, putting their heart into every stitch. Some projects takes days, weeks and even months to create. When their works of art are finally complete, that’s when they give them away. The Quilters Workshop of Tampa Bay donated more than 500 quilts to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Locally, they help local organizations like The Spring, Alpha House and Salvation Army. 

“It puts a smile on your face. It really makes you feel good about spending a lot of money on something and being able to help someone else with it,” said Shirley.

Their most recent partnership is with Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County. Every time a family gets a new home, they also get a brand new quilt. 

“It's so gratifying to help someone who is so deserving. They work so hard to get their new home. And to have something comforting in their new home, I think that is just a wonderful thing to be doing,” said Harriet Bly-Miller.

If you ask these quilters, they’ll tell you there’s nothing more comforting than a quilt. 

“It’s like wrapping yourself up with love,” said Shirley. 

The Quilters Workshop of Tampa Bay is always looking for new members, and you don’t even need to know how to quilt. The women are more than happy to teach newcomers. They meet every second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Christ the King Church in South Tampa. 

LINK: For more information, head over to the Quilters Workshop of Tampa Bay.