Carroll County Times

Group makes quilts for wounded warriors

Fran Knapp Kilty began as a garment sewer. Her mother was a seamstress and taught Kilty how to sew when she was only 5 years old.

Kilty always wanted to be a quilter and it was something her mother did not do. She had heard of Sistos, a quilt shop in Frederick, from the time she worked at G Street fabrics in Rockville. G Street staff members referred some sewing machine repair jobs to the Sistos quilt shop.

When Kilty moved to Frederick in 2011, she saw the Sistos sign from the highway. She went to check it out immediately. While she was shopping there, Kilty saw an ad in the store for a quilt group that was going to make quilts for wounded warriors. It said they would teach anyone how to quilt that wanted to help.

In September of 2011, 13 women and one man gathered upstairs at Sistos to start quilting. Some were newcomers to the quilt world and some were already experienced quilters. They did their first quilt presentation of eight quilts 2012 at Ft. Detrick in Frederick. Soon after, Sistos lost its lease and closed.

After searching for a new quilting home, the group, now called the Piecemaker Quilters, was offered a free room in Keysville Evangelical Lutheran Church. Because they do not have to pay rent, the quilting group donates one quilt a year to the church to raise money for their projects.

The focus of their mission has stayed local but has shifted to making quilts for veterans of any conflict, instead of just those returning from war. The group connects with them through the Lions Clubs in the area.

When they started out they did Civil War reproduction quilts called "9 Patch" quilts, easier to make and based on a quilt that survived from the Civil War. Since many veterans prefer quilts made with red, white and blue fabrics, they don't do as many of the old time quilts in different colors. Instead they sew a wide variety of designs incorporating the patriotic colors.

The quilters have done three presentations to groups of veterans in New Windsor and Union Bridge. In 2013, the Union Bridge and New Windsor Lion's Clubs invited veterans who were not members of their clubs to a dinner in their honor. Each veteran takes home a quilt of their own. There were about nine quilts presented at the first dinner. At later dinners, veterans from the Lions Clubs received quilts. On June 9, 2014 the quilters will be presenting quilts to Lions Club members in Taneytown.

"I love watching the design evolve as I am working on it," Kilty said. "I love the way you can tailor a quilt by color and design for a specific individual. Quilts can be made as small as a Christmas ornament or pot holder to as large as a king size bed. I have always been attracted to color and texture. When you think about what we started with, a nine patch quilt, some think it might get boring. But there were never two alike. Although we use red, white and blue, the quilts are always different. It is always amazing how many different shapes, colors and prints can be used. Some quilts often have panels with words on them but each quilter uses them differently. This is a never ending banquet."

"Quilting at the Farmers Market," to be held at the Carroll County Farmers Market, on Saturday, June 28, is the brainchild of Tom Smith from Littlestown, Pa. He is a member of the Piecemaker Quilters. The group will demonstrate a variety of different quilt techniques. Some will be doing hand quilting and some will be machine quilting. There will also be quilts in various stages of creation. Smith will be working on an applique Hawaiian quilt, which is a distinctive style of applique originating in Hawaii.

Kilty can be contacted at

The Carroll County Farmers Summer Market will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 14, 21, 28 (Quilters); July 5, 12, 19, 26; August 2, 9, 23, 30 and Sept. 6. Check their website at