Blanketeers warm hearts with handmade quilts

Published 8:09 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Outer Banks Blanketeers displayed 446 handmade quilts at the Quilt Exhibit in Duck last Saturday. The blankets represent the hard work of several dozen women who gather each week in January and February at Duck United Methodist Church to learn a new quilt pattern and gain both quilting instruction and personal encouragement.

In prior years, the group has been as large as 50 women, both from Duck UMC and community members, but COVID-19 and an aging population have been cited as contributing factors to smaller weekly numbers. However, that hasn’t stopped these dedicated women from creating almost half a thousand blankets in the last year.

“Some you can make in a day, some you can make in a week,” said OBX Blanketeers coordinator Sally Meagher, who started the group in 2000 with only eight women, as a solution for what to do in the coldest months on the Outer Banks. “Other people were interested and it evolved from there,” she said.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

Each week in January and February, the women gather for a quilting demonstration from Meagher and are invited to select material from what she jokingly calls “the fabric store” because she’s accumulated such a large collection of material from relatives over the years. There is no charge for the instruction or the material. The women then work on the quilts on their personal sewing machines at home and bring them back to share and display once a year.

It is an exquisite sight to see the entire church – from the foyer to the pews to the stage and down into the hallway and fellowship room – adorned in handmade quilts.

“This display, to me, is mind boggling,” said Bette Kraemer, who is friends with many of the quilters. “To actually see it in person is amazing.”

The time, artistry and goodwill from the hands of the small group of women are given away; none are sold. Originally they were all given to children, but the group has since extended their reach to any child or adult with a need. Thirty are given to the dialysis center in Manteo; 25 are sent to Operation Smile in Virginia Beach; 20-25 are given to Hotline Crisis Intervention and Prevention Center; as needed quilts are given to Interfaith Community Outreach; and those remaining are left with Jeanne Shrader, owner of Knitting Addiction in Kitty Hawk, so anyone who has a need can go pick up a blanket.

OBX Blanketeers also sends blankets to people who have suffered from natural disaster. Most recently, the group sent 100 to families in Ocracoke after the hurricane and 75 to victims of the Kentucky tornado.

Though visitors to the quilt show may notice similar patterns, each blanket is completely unique. Some have traditional pinwheel patterns, others are blocks and some are large fabric prints with decorative stitching and quilting along the edges. But all are made with love, designed to bless someone in need of the comfort that only a handmade blanket can offer.

If you know someone in need of a blanket, or if you’re interested in joining the OBX Blanketeers, contact Sally Meagher at