by Lisa Tome
While shoppers milled around buying new gear at Perryville Outlet Center last week, a group of quilters sat inside a vacant storefront learning to make the most of what they have.
Virginia-based entrepreneur Penni Domikis, who is a Rising Sun native, was in the area teaching nontraditional quilting techniques and ways to use up every bit of material. Using scraps is critical for the members of the Sew and Reap Community Quilting group. The group consists of volunteers who make quilts for deployed members of the military and cancer patients.
Domikis, a 1990 graduate of Rising Sun High School, who now lives in Fredericksburg, Va., runs two businesses, both of which started due to her love of quilting. She owns Cabin in the Woods, a quilt pattern design company. That also sparked the creation of a CAD design engineering firm which has expanded beyond quilt designs.
She was at Sew and Reap demonstrating how to make the most of the donations the quilters receive. "The fabrics they get are donated. They don't get to choose. They can still build something beautiful. And just because they are doing it for charity doesn't mean it has to look like you cut corners," said Domikis. "This (class) is not about showing what I've done. I point out every mistake I've made in a quilt that they think is gorgeous. With quilts, you can make mistakes."
Nancy Sauselein was one of those who attended the classes presented by Domikis.
"I loved it. It's almost overwhelming. We were bombarded with ideas and options for creating things. She's a great speaker," said Sauselein. "I love making quilts for soldiers and veterans and people with cancer. Maybe we are blessing them in some way, making them feel valued and honored."
June Bonham has volunteered with Sew and Reap for three years. She was enthused about what she learned from Domikis. "I have never seen it presented like that. I'm going to do it," said Bonham.
Sierra Shiver, 13, was one of the younger quilters who took the class. "You can use the smallest of scraps. And colors you think didn't match, they do," said Shiver.
The Sew and Reap Community Quilt project was formed by Sandy Testerman, a cancer survivor, five years ago. The group of volunteers now has numerous partners. They make quilts for Soldiers' Angels - which provides comfort to deployed military. They also supply quilts to Dover Air Force Base. Those quilts provide comfort to those who assist with the processing of fallen heroes. They continue to make quilts for cancer patients at Union Hospital. Quilts made in Perryville are shipped all over the world. The group currently has about 40 active members from Cecil and Harford counties as well as Delaware.