Quilters show love for lost with every stitch


Teresa Giltner said she had never sewn a stitch in her life before September.

After the 9-11 attacks, Giltner said the idea of a commemorative quilt struck her and stuck in her mind. She couldnt shake the vision.

“I saw how I wanted it made,” she said.

“After Sept. 11, everybody was giving blood and I cant do that … I cant give blood … Im anemic. But I kept seeing this quilt,” Giltner, 41, said at Woodbine Baptist Church on Saturday as she and a group of her friends sewed the quilts design to the backing and batting.

Giltner, a Manassas homemaker, said she wanted to put the names of the victims from the Pentagon, the planes and the World Trade Center together on a quilt and complete the job by the first anniversary of the attack.

Giltners first and hardest task was to gather the names of the victims. She searched the Internet for five months to find the names and her progress was hampered by her emotions.

“From September to January, I worked on the list every night,” she said.

Many of the names she found on the Internet appeared beside photographs of the victims.

“It was hard to see a name and a face and know they had been involved, so Id work on it a little bit and stop,” Giltner said.

While she worked on the list, about 20 community and church friends held bake sales to raise money to buy material for the quilt, which would eventually measure 15-by-22-feet.

Youth groups at her church went searching for people who had material to donate for the patchwork backing for the quilt.

In Giltners vision, the quilt had alternating red and white stripes surrounded by a blue border. The blue border would carry stars bearing the names of police and firefighters who died last fall.

The white stripes would hold the names of the other victims.

By February, Giltner and the volunteers had enough material to begin, so they went to work.

Volunteers wrote the victims names, with permanent fabric marker, on pieces of white muslin material which would eventually comprise the 9-inch white stripes in the field of the quilt.

“I spent days cutting out fabric. I spent days ironing fabric,” Giltner said as she and her friends Emma Canup, Brenda Williams, Sandy Hoff and her mother-in-law Peggy Giltner sat, with pin cushions, scissors, thread and needles at hand, and sewed the quilt together.

“Shes lived with this quilt,” said Amy Strope, 41, Giltners neighbor.

Strope naturally joined in when Giltner told her about the idea and has been involved since the beginning.

“Im a quilter. Ive always been a quilter and Teresa had this great idea and she knows where I live,” said Strope, an electrical engineer.

The women plan to have the quilt completed by Sept. 11, 2002, but they dont know where the quilt will wind up. Theyve offered it to Sen. George Allen.

Giltner said Allens people told her the senator would be happy to take the quilt.

“I would hope they have some kind of hall where they can hang it,” Strope said.

“Theyre probably going to have all kinds of ceremonies on the anniversary,” Giltner said. “It would be nice if this could be a backdrop for one of those.”

Giltner said the project is ahead of schedule, but she and the others wouldnt turn down help if people were of a mind to come and sew some.

Those interested in helping can contact Giltner at [email protected]

Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.

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