What does Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina do to relax? She makes quilts. A hobby she’s been enjoying for about 15 years. On Saturday, Molina combined her love of quilt making with a good cause. Molina and her quilting group, called Las Pulgas, hosted a workshop (pictured above) in East Los Angeles to make quilts for children in hospitals.“I find it a fascinating, fun thing to do. It’s just like puzzles; I’ve always enjoyed doing puzzles,” Molina said. “And I’ve always liked to sew. My daughter never liked the clothes I made her so I started making other things. So this is perfect. This is therapy for me.”
Members of Las Pulgas and Las Comadres Para Las Americas, a nation-wide network of Latina quilters, attended the workshop, held at the YWCA/Union Pacific Child Care Center in East LA. By April, Molina’s group plans to finish 15 to 20 quilts that will be part of the thousands of quilts donated to hospitalized children nationwide through Quilts For Kid and Touch of Comfort programs. On Saturday morning, the purr of sewing machines, accompanied by the sound of women laughing and talking filled the community room. Colorful squares of fabric were spread out on tables where the women were sowing their own quilts.
Molina and other experienced quilters walked around the room helping first-time quilters, like mother and daughter Martha Arevalo-Trujillo, 52, and Yazmin Trujillo-Arevalo, 29. Both were new members of Las Comadres. For Yasmin, this was her second workshop. Her first was a week ago. “It’s the first time I’ve actually touched a sewing machine,” Yazmin said.
Martha was a little more experienced. “I told my daughter, if Gloria can find the time to come here to show us how to make this, then I can find the time to come, too, to help make these for the children,” Martha said in Spanish, trying to sew two orange and green squares of fabric together.
Las Pulgas, made up of nine women, want to encourage other Latinas to quilt, said Molina, a Mount Washington. “Not many Chicanas quilt. It’s a very American kind of a thing, but we’re a group of Chicanas that do quilt and we told them [Las Comadres Para Las Americas] that we would help them make quilts.”
Molina said Las Pulgas (named after an exit off the 5 Freeway in the direction to Tijuana) makes quilts for family, friends, and quilting shows. The group has also donated quilts to local hospitals, and its members have won numerous ribbons in quilting shows.
The group meets every week. What do they talk about when they meet? “We all get together and gossip and chat, stitch and bitch as they say,” Molina said with a laugh. The topic of conversation ranges from current movies to domestic violence.
Do Las Pulgas argue when they meet? “Of course,” Molina said. Fellow Pulga member Patricia Lopez disagrees. “We don’t argue. Gloria is right and that’s just the way it is,” joked Lopez, who has been friends with the supervisor since child-hood.
Quilting with friends is a therapeutic activity in contrast to her busy job as county supervisor.
Molina said: “We always have something to talk about…it’s always nice to have company instead of sewing by yourself…It’s really great therapy. I find it very enjoyable”
Photos by Ana Facio Contreras