Helping others, one stitch at a time

December 31, 2019 | People | Volume 24 Issue 1
Maria H. Klassen | Special to Canadian Mennonite
Eric Berg works on the floor, pinning together the top, batting and lining of a blanket. (Photo by Marlies Berg)

Eric Berg, a member of the St. Catharines (Ont.) United Mennonite Church, has been making blankets and donating them to MCC for a number of years. It all started years ago when he was helping his wife Marlies, an avid sewer and quilter, cut out squares. When he was cutting faster than she could sew and the squares were piling up, he started sewing them together. In the last seven years he has been making the entire blanket—cutting out the pieces, designing a pattern, sewing the squares together, pinning the backing and batting to the top, and sewing all the layers together.

Eric says it helps to have a floor large enough to lay out the tops. He pins the pieces together with safety pins rather than straight pins, as the straight pins have a tendency to get lost or fall out. His other hints are not to use wrinkly cloth, and to press the squares immediately after sewing them together.

Before he started making blankets, Eric had never sewn anything. Marlies had a sewing machine with speed control which helped him to start slowly and gain confidence. He chuckles as he says that he is sewing faster these days.

Eric and Marlies have also done a specialty quilt or two together. In 2012 they sewed a quilt for the Rankin Cancer Run in St. Catharines using 72 t-shirts. Eric cut the squares and Marlies sewed them together.

A quote from Mother Teresa inspires Eric: “Help one person at a time.” With every blanket he finishes he feels he has helped one person stay warm. And that is MCC’s goal as well, to provide warmth and a tangible message to people that their needs are not forgotten.

In the year 2020 Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will be one hundred years old. One way MCC is celebrating this milestone is with The Great Winter Warm-Up project, attempting to collect 6,500 comforters by Jan. 18, 2020, so they can be delivered to people affected by disaster and conflict around the world.

Eric Berg works on the floor, pinning together the top, batting and lining of a blanket. (Photo by Marlies Berg)

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