Club Spotlight: Seaside Quilter Guild creates beauty one stitch at a time in Pacific Beach

Carol Simpson talking about a chicken-themed quilt during a Seaside Quilter Guild meeting’s “Show and Tell” time.
(Judy Uyemura)

The Seaside Quilter Guild in Pacific Beach has been keeping the tradition of quilting alive since 1982.

“We still have a few members that were in the first membership group,” said President Sally Stovall, a member for 10 years.

“When you say you’re a quilter, it’s a huge gamut,” Stovall said. Members practice many types of quilting and are consistently learning about new techniques and sharpening their skills.

The guild, comprised of approximately 72 members, meets monthly on the first Tuesday, September through June. First there is a membership meeting, then a guest speaker who might teach a new technique or share personal experience with quilting.

In January, Arlene Stevens from the California Heritage Quilt Project, spoke about her quilt collection from the 1860s to 1950s.

The guild has a few group projects, including “Block of the Month.” Every month there is a new pattern shared and whoever wants to will take home the pattern. Each person brings two blocks back the next month and gets their name put into a drawing. Whoever wins gets to take the blocks home and can make a small quilt with them.

Want to join?

Seaside Quilter Guild

When: 6 p.m. monthly on the first Tuesday from September to June. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Soledad Club, 5050 Soledad Road in Pacific Beach.

Dues: membership is $45 per year; guest fee is $5 per meeting.


Another group event is “Quilt ’Til You Wilt,” which occurs on the second Monday. About 10 to 15 members gather at the Sewing Machines Plus classroom in Pacific Beach from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each quilter brings their sewing machines and handwork and the group “just talks together and teaches each other and enjoys each other’s company,” Stovall said.

On “Finish it Friday,” the fourth Friday of every month, a Zoom call is held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. so members can work on their projects from home, but “still talk and show each other (their work),” Stovall said.

There are many different types of quilting and those that do similar work tend to group together, although each person generally makes their own project.

Hand quilters travel to Old Town every Friday to quilt for spectators interested in the process. Art quilters “might paint or do something abstract,” Stovall said.

There are also pieced quilts, or “things that you would recognize on a bed as being a quilt,” Stovall said. Modern quilting is another category, that is usually pieced but with some type of unique twist.

The guild is involved in philanthropy and makes quilts for multiple charities. It donates child-sized quilts to Project Linus, a nationwide program that provides handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill or otherwise in need of charity.

“A lot of us just make quilts for this,” Stovall said. Last year the guild donated over 300 quilts to Project Linus, which were handed out at Rady Children’s Hospital and donated to the San Diego Police and Sheriff’s departments to give to children in need.

The guild also collects new socks and underwear at the monthly meetings to donate to the Community Christian Service Agency in San Diego.

Twice a year, about 20 members travel to Vina De Lestonnac retreat center in Temecula for three to four nights to “just do nothing but sew and eat,” Stovall said. Each brings their equipment and current projects, and spends several days quilting undisturbed.

“Some people show up at 6:30 in the morning (to quilt) and some stay up until 1 or 2 a.m.,” Stovall said.

Quilting dates back to at least medieval times and has an elaborate history. Some historians posit that Black slaves may have used codes embedded in quilts to navigate the Underground Railroad. Certain patterns, such as a “wagon wheel” or “bear’s paw,” have been interpreted to hold secret messages to help direct slaves towards freedom.

The Seaside Quilter Guild in San Diego also uses quilting as a way to help those in need, and members enjoy each other’s company in the process.

When asked about her favorite part of being in the guild, Stovall said, “All the people I’ve met.” She added, “the more you give the more you receive.” She also just enjoys sewing and learning new things.

Despite being a quilter for almost 20 years, Stovall said there is always something new to learn, which “keeps your mind fresh.”

The only downside to quilting? “It can overtake your house,” warns Stovall jokingly.

The quilters are dedicated to their craft, but also to sharing their favorite hobby with others. “We would love to have visitors anytime,” Stovall said.