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Quilters cover cold Turlockers
quilt pic1
Pyllis Frasies and Sharon Bristow measure fabric as Mary Jo Sai folds in the background. The three are part of Gotcha Covered, a local quilting group who make blankets for needy Turlockers. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN/ The Journal

Gotcha Covered has been quilting blankets for needy community members since 2007, and their project grows bigger every year. The group of quilters was started in 2007 by Sharon Bristow, who got her inspiration from her daughter.

“She noticed that local homeless people needed tarps for the rain. I said they need blankets too, so we started making quilts out of recycled clothing,” Bristow said.

The clothing didn’t yield much fabric, so they soon added recycled blankets and sheets. Once word spread about their quilting project, they received donated fabric from other sewers who had a few yards left over. The first year they gave away 10 quilts, along with bags and tarps.

Bristow met more and more volunteers who wanted to join her quilting group. There are now 12 people who meet to put quilts together, or who take kits home to work on them. The group members range in age from 16 to 70, and some members had never sown a stitch in their lives before they joined.

“It’s all straight line sewing and they have a foundation to sew on, so beginners can pick it up pretty fast. It’s fun to see how the girls are coming along,” Bristow said.

Bristow met Mary Jo Sai in a fabric store, and the two hit it off immediately.  Sai joined Gotcha Covered and she now creates most of the patterns for the groups’ nine-block quilts. She chooses strips of fabric that will look good together and will create a 6 foot by 7 foot blanket or a smaller “kids size” quit.

“It’s amazing what we come up with. We have blankets made out of old curtains and sheets. We really enjoy it, and we’re doing it for a good reason. It’s just been a fun project,” Sai said. 

The group always accepts donated materials, but what they need most are used blankets of any size or condition. They wash the blankets and use them as filler material for inside the quilts. They can even use broken electric blankets — they take the wires out and use the blankets between quilt toppers and backing.

Gotcha Covered expanded its mission from quilts for the homeless to quilts for anyone who needs them. Bristow said that they made several quilts for senior citizens and a few for pre-school children and their families.

“Some people aren’t necessarily homeless, but they need blankets because they can’t afford to heat their homes in the winter,” Bristow said.

The group has produced close to 200 quilts to date. Their goal for this year is to make blankets for all 34 beds in Turlock’s men’s shelter. They will also make their smaller blankets for elderly residents of convalescent homes. In total, they hope to make more than 60 blankets and have them ready for the November delivery date.

“We try to keep it local as much as possible, but we are here for whoever has a need,” Sai said.

Gotcha Covered currently meets whenever they can get together and wherever they can find a space. They meet at Sai’s house to cut fabric and put kits together, but Bristow’s quilting machine won’t fit on the billiards table that they use for a work space. They also meet at Enclave Church to do their quilting, but they don’t have a space where they can set up their materials and leave them.

“We have to clean up every day when we’re done. It would be nice to leave our work where it is and come back to it later. It would also be nice to leave the quilting machine set up somewhere,” Sai said.

The group is looking for a new work space. They need a room with power that is big enough to set up the quilting machine and secure enough that they can leave all of their materials and projects for at least the next three months.

Anyone who has old blankets to donate, or who can provide a working space, can call Sharon Bristow at 667-5207 or Mary Jo Sai at 668-1908.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.