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Coming Up: Quilters Guild The next generation
Manteca Christian School second grader Sophia Serrano shows off the colorful skirt she made which is among those on display. Behind her is proud grandmother Judy Mullen, former Manteca Quilters president and internationally known quilt designer. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
The future of the Manteca Quilters Guild is already in the hands of the next generation.

That is quite evident at the 31st annual Manteca Quilt & Doll Show being held at the MRPS Hall in downtown Manteca. Quite a number of exhibitors are so young you probably don’t expect them to know how to use a needle and thread to fix a shirt button, much less use a thimble or even know what the word means.

But there they are at the quilt show:

•7-year-old Sophia Serrano, displaying a featherweight and serger that she herself sewed. She copied it from her favorite skirt that she had outgrown. The designer of her skirt is Manteca Quilters Guild member and award-winning quilt designer Judy Mullen, aka Grammy. Sophia is a second grader at Manteca Christian School. Actually, she was only five years old when she had her first exhibit at the annual Manteca Quilt & Doll Show.

•Cassandra Wages, age 11, whose first entry into the annual quilt show was a double-bed quilt. It took her one year to make, with a lot of loving help from her Grandma Della Johnson. She started on the project exactly a year ago when she went to the show with her grandmother and right there and then decided to join the group. The pattern that she used was Yellow Brick Road.

•Olivia Hibby, 11 years old. Her friendship quilt displayed at the quilt show was completed on March 1, 2009.

•Amber Heron, 12, entered a lap quilt, a tote pillow and a tissue holder that she made at a friendship sleepover birthday party. She also used a Friendship pattern for her quilt.

The four young quilters are members of the Manteca Quilters Guild’s Junior Quilters. They have proven themselves as no mere dilettantes when it comes to quilting. They attend the regular meetings of the guild. And some of them are even taking quilting lessons. For Sophia, the private lessons are given by her grandmother, an award-winning quilter with emphasis in wearables and a quilt designer. Every Wednesday evening, Sophia and her mother, Cindy Esenwein who is also a quilter and an artist as well as an art teacher at Franklin High in Stockton, go to grandma Mullen’s home for the quilting lessons.

As a seven-year-old, Sophia has a quilting attention span of about 45 minutes; her mother, about an hour, Mullen said with a laugh.

Cassandra said she got interested in quilting when she saw her grandma work on various projects and while watching the quilters at work when she accompanied her grandma to the meetings.

“Quilting is like – it’s not like a chore like washing dishes. It’s amazing how they do it,” she said, explaining what she finds interesting in her new-found hobby.

For her first quilt, her grandmother bought her the fabrics that she needed and gave them to her as a birthday and Christmas gift. Johnson said she helped her granddaughter by sewing the rows of blocks together, which was hard for Cassandra to do in a straight line because she’s still small. Johnson also did the binding and the rest of the finishing touches. Cassandra though sewed all the blocks together.

“I was surprised that she has an interest in sewing, and she just loves it. I’m trying to teacher her embroidery now and appliqué,” Johnson said of her talented granddaughter.