Locally Handmade Comforter Appears in the New York Times

by Barbie Fischer

Vincent quilts 3Often when items are donated to a ministry, the recipient of the donation is unknown. The Vincent Sewing Circle ladies are well aware of this fact as they have been making comforters by hand since 1934 and donating them to people in need, in recent years mainly to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Having donated numerous handmade comforters over the past 82 years it was exciting for the ladies of the Sewing Circle to discover one of their comforters in a photograph in the New York Times.

On March 22nd, in the LENS Blog of the New York Times appeared an article entitled, “Dilley, Tex., Home to the Nation’s Largest Immigration Detention Center.” The article is about a multiplatform project known as “Welcome to Dilley” by a creative cooperative known as Black Box. As explained in the article, the project dives into a town at the heart of the national immigration debate, Dilley, Texas. Through the project, Black Box tells the story of immigration detention in the United States by sharing the stories of the detainees and the other residents in the small town where the largest immigration detention center in the United States is housed.

One of the woman featured in the project is Yadira López Lucas. Flipping through the slideshow in the New York Times article and appearing in a New York Time post on Facebook one can see Yadira and her three children sitting on a bed in a Mennonite House in San Antonio. The house is run by Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), in partnership with San Antonio Mennonite Church. The caption reads, “After being released last spring from the Karnes detention center about an hour and a half from Dilley, she [Yadira] had become the Mennonite House’s de facto caretaker as she waited for her case to wind its way through the system. With her were her sons, David and Daniel, and her daughter, Melany.” The comforter that appears on in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph of Yadira and her children was made by the women at the Vincent Sewing Circle. (Click here to view the photo.)

Vincent quilts 4Linda Lindberg, of Vincent Mennonite Church and a member of the Vincent Sewing Circle spotted the photo graph and says, “My reaction to seeing it wasn’t anything special.  I just recognized it (the corner of the comforter on the bed at bottom left) and was thankful that I could see the end result of our labor.”

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She goes on to say, “I looked further at the picture for my own “proof” to see if it was ours and recognized several pieces of the printed fabric–especially the black with printed flowers on the band around the outside of the patches.  I remembered trying to decide what color of thread to sew the fold over with because of the contrast of black and medium blue (I went with blue).  The blue backing is part of a very large bolt that we found several of at Goodville Fabric Outlet for less than a dollar a yard and an unusual 110 inch width, so I recognized that also.  The pattern of the patches (diagonal stripes where there was enough of one color/print) is typical of the many, many tops Marjorie Benner, of Souderton Homes, has stitched over the years.  She also cut smaller patches than is typical for these “refugee” comforters.  I have become familiar with the prints/colors of material used in many of our comforters from knotting them, sandwiching them, pinning, and hemming them.  So I was quite sure it was one that we had worked on!”

Vincent quilts 1The Vincent Sewing Circle started in 1934 as a place for women to use their skills to help others. Women from several Mennonite Churches in the Pottstown area came together to form the group. Currently the group meets in a home owned by Vincent Mennonite Church every second Wednesday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and breaks for devotions and lunch. If you are interested in joining the group please contact Vincent Mennonite Church at office@vincentmc.org.