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Quilt makers share work with friends, community

Across Gwinnett, quilters are passionate about the traditional craft. Quilts are the very heart of Carla McDougall's Snellville home. She has made quilts that cover the beds and created quilted pieces for the walls. In the office that also serves as a sewing room, partially sewn quilt pieces are neatly stacked alongside rows of thread spools.

"I love working with my hands," said McDougall, a self-taught quilter.

McDougall, who began quilting in 2000, enjoys creating quilts for friends and family. "I love giving them as gifts," she said.

She began quilting in 2000. McDougall made her first quilt as a gift for her daughter's birthday. The pattern, which is called Trip Around the World, features blocks of purple cloth mixed with fabric printed with butterflies.

"It's the most meaningful to me because it went to my daughter. She's my only child," McDougall said.

She recently became a grandmother. She's already making plans to teach her 6-month-old granddaughter, who is just starting to crawl, how to sew.

"I'm going to raise her to be a quilter," McDougall said.

McDougall is the current president of the Quilts in Stitches Quilt Guild (www.quiltsites.com/QISGuild.htm), which meets on the third Monday of the month at the Highlands Presbyterian Church in Grayson.

"It's so much fun, the camaraderie we have as a group," McDougall said. "We try to open doors for ladies and let their creativity flow."

The group hosts monthly speakers, who offer advice about everything from sewing to appraising antique quilts. "We try to share tips and techniques and different ways of quilting," McDougall said.

Each year, the group also makes quilts to donate to the residents of the Gwinnett Children's Shelter. "Sometimes that's the only thing that they've got - a quilt they can call their own," McDougall said.

For the last decade, Gretchen Cuthbert of Lawrenceville has been serious about quilting. "It's addictive," she said.

She made her first quilt about 30 years ago and swore she'd never sew another one. "About 10 years ago, I got into it again, and man, oh man, I got into it," Cuthbert said.

She is co-vice-president of the Gwinnett Quilters Guild. The group meets on the third Tuesday of every month at Cannon United Methodist Church in Snellville.

The group's community service projects include making quilts for children undergoing cancer treatment and supporting the outreach ministry at Cannon United Methodist. Last Christmas, guild members created more than 100 stockings for the municipal employees of Waveland, Miss., which was hit by Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to these community service projects, Cuthbert also makes quilts for friends and family. She likes to include an element in each one that is especially meaningful for the person who receives it. When her daughter-in-law graduated from medical school, Cuthbert gave her a custom quilt.

"I made her one with stars because she reached for the stars," Cuthbert said.

She's now working on several quilts to give as wedding gifts. "I give most of my quilts away. People really know you put a lot into it," she said.