GLENWOOD SPRINGS - A nine-block demonstration quilt created for Glenwood Sew's Saturday Sampler class will have a place of honor when Valley View Hospital's Heart and Vascular Clinic moves to its new suite next spring.
Sandy Boyd, owner of the quilting shop, recently donated the quilt and $395 in cash to the Heart and Vascular Clinic at the end of a nine-month class that involved about 30 quilting students.
What's special about this quilt is its heart theme, including its red and white color scheme, the heart-shaped patterns of quilted fabrics and embroidery, a family portrait of relatives lost to heart disease, and the monthly quilting class discussions about women's heart health.
Each month's quilt block instructions included facts from the Women's Heart Foundation and other sources to introduce an awareness of women's heart health.
"Each time they came to class, Sandy gave them some education about women's heart disease," said Pam Egan, director of the Heart and Vascular Clinic. "Women tend to ignore heart health. They think it's a man's disease, but it's just as much a woman's disease.
"Women need to know the symptoms and be aware that they are different. They need to not be embarrassed about going to the emergency room if they are feeling chest pain, jaw pain or back pain that just won't go away," Egan said.
For Boyd, the heart health message is personal in two ways.
First, the quilt includes a block with a photo image of a couple with their young son. They are the parents and brother of her husband, Bob Boyd.
Bob's father died at age 33 of his fifth heart attack, his mother dealt with very high blood pressure all her life, and at 68, Bob is the eldest person in his family to have not suffered from heart disease.
Second, the quilter demographic is centered on women middle-aged and older, including some who are overweight.
"We are all susceptible to heart disease, but these are women who are particularly susceptible," Sandy Boyd said. "My message to them is that quilting and sewing are great, but you might want to get up and walk around the block, too."
So when a fabric shop trade group published a quilt sampler with the heart health theme, Boyd decided to launch it as a nine-month Saturday Sampler program starting in October 2011.
Saturday Sampler classes have been going on for years at Glenwood Sew and at quilt shops across the country. Students pay $7 for a kit for each block, although if they arrive on time to the next month's class with their block completed, they get the next block kit for free.
The class instructors, Boyd and Kathleen Molitor, constructed a block at each class, and those blocks were later sewed into a complete quilt, which is the quilt donated to Valley View Hospital.
The students made their own quilt blocks, and part of each class was spent talking about heart health.
"One of the things they said was that only half of women would call 911, even if they were experiencing heart attack symptoms, because they didn't want to bother anyone or have the paramedics see their messy house," said quilting student Kolakanta Darling of Glenwood Springs. "We had a lively discussion on that one."
For student Laura Kendrick, the heart theme is more immediately personal than for most. She uses a pacemaker and suffers from heart problems, so she appreciated learning more about the heart and how it functions.
The heart is also wrapped up in so many of life's important emotions and relationships, Kendrick said. "The heart's involved with your religion, your love life and family."
Kendrick is a veteran quilter. Nearly 80, she's been quilting since age 7. Darling has sewed for years, but the Saturday Sampler class was her first experience with quilting.
Like the other students, they worked on nine different blocks for their own quilts, learning techniques such as hand and machine embroidery, the use of transfer artist paper for text and photos, and traditional fabric piecing.
For every block that a student completed, Boyd pledged to make a $1 donation from Glenwood Sew to the American Heart Association.
But as the project neared completion, Boyd thought making the donation locally could have a greater effect. She contacted Valley View Hospital and was soon put in touch with Alice Sundeen, the hospital's public relations director.
Sundeen asked about the quilt as well, and Boyd offered to donate it as long as it would be publicly displayed.
Hospital staff will find a spot for the quilt in the Heart and Vascular Clinic's present lobby, but it will get a place of honor once the clinic moves to the hospital's new section next spring.