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Ladies at Alpine Lake learn to Sew Together

Photo by John Dahlia Sew Together members Marilyn Sedlack, left, and Saundra Conklin talk and laugh while working on quilts.
Photo by John Dahlia
Sew Together members Marilyn Sedlack, left, and Saundra Conklin talk and laugh while working on quilts.

By John Dahlia,
Preston County News & Journal

TERRA ALTA, W.Va. — Bright and early, every Monday morning during the warm summer months the boat house at Alpine Lake Resort gets a little out of control. The typically quiet boat house bustles with the sound of sewing machines and pleasant conversation all from a group of about 20 talented ladies who call themselves Sew Together. They’re quilters — by hand and machine, which is fairly unique. Shirley Melmed said Sew Together is made up of multiple sewing groups who wanted to work with the best of both worlds.

“Well, we started as just a quilting group,” Melmed said. “And then other people who wanted to use their sewing machines along with hand quilting joined in. That worked well.”

Like her good friend Shirley, Norma Eckard, also an early member of Sew Together, loves what she does too but admits her peers have what some folks in professional sports would call, “game.”

“It’s intimidating,” Eckard said. “They know more about quilting than anyone I’ve ever met. They can really crank those quilts out.”

Like most quilting groups Sew Together works to support the community by donating their hand-made quilts to local charities. They’ve donated to the Salvation Army in the past, but now they are focusing on giving to two organizations: Hopemont Hospital for the mentally challenged and something called the North Pole program.

“North Pole is with Terra Alta Elementary School right in our area,” Eckard said.

“We love making quilts for the North Pole project,” Sew Together member Bev Tasker said. “It’s wonderful because the teachers give our quilts to needy children so they can keep warm in the winter time.”

Tasker, who’s been in Sew Together since 2010 loves what she does, but says the work can be a little challenging.

“I am trying to fix different squares so they will fit into a quilt,” Tasker explained. “They have to be the same size before you get them together.”

But she also said the difficult, meticulous craft of quilting does have a handful of benefits most folks might not consider.

“It’s cheaper than therapy,” Tasker said. “I am in here talking to all these nice people instead of talking to a psychiatrist.”

But Tasker was also quick to point out the therapeutic payback also includes helping the children at Terra Alta Elementary by seeing kids receive warm blankets for those cold Preston County winters.

“All my quilts are out there somewhere wrapped around somebody keeping them warm,” she added. “That makes me happy.”

Other members like Saundra Conklin and Marilyn Sedlack said the ladies of Sew Together are a close knit group who help each other at the drop of quilting needle.

“If you have a problem and you need a little help,” Conklin explained, “everyone just drops everything — like ants to a sugar cube — to help out.”

Sedlack, who’s expecting her first grandchild any day now, is finishing up a lovely baby quilt for the newest member of her family she can’t wait to meet.

“As far as I know there is no one else in my family who can do this, so I hope it will be special,” Sedlack said.

“It’s like painting or writing poetry or playing a musical instrument”

Sew Together’s 20ish members meet each Monday morning at the Alpine Lake Resort boat house. When the temperatures start to drop, you can find the lively artisans in the Lodge Building.

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