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Quilts made for vets
Quilting is a labor of love for many in Ceres and area. The quaint quilting shop in downtown Ceres is now a mecca for quilters in and out of the area. People like Shirley Ashby of Valley Springs don't mind driving the distance of 60 miles to buy fabric, quilt and chat at Fields of Fabric.

"Quilters are a strange breed," said Fields of Fabric owner Connie Lionudakis. "They'll go anywhere to find fabric."

She said it's common for quilters traveling through the area along Highway 99 to seek out Fields of Fabrics in the yellow pages. In a quick detour off the freeway they drop by 2953 Fourth Street, and mill through rooms - actually some are closets - with bolts of fabric. Often in the back they meet other quilts who gather for their trade.

Experienced with the Quilts of Valor program that handcrafts quilts for military veterans, Ashby urged Lionudakis to take up a program. Lionudakis decided to take a different tack.

"Shirley has been after me to do Quilts of Valor," said Lionudakis. "But instead of quilts going to Washington, D.C., I wanted to do quilts that would help out locally."

So the ladies at the shop - two to six at a time - chose patriotic or Americana themed fabrics to build five lap size quilts. Producing the quilts, valued at $150 to $175 apiece, was the easy part. The business has found no veterans to give them to.

"We're trying to find Ceres soldiers or veterans to give them to," said Lionudakis.

"We've made quite a few now and can't seem to find soldiers or veterans," added Ashby.

A phone call to the leader of a local veterans group went nowhere, she said.

"The ladies are much more willing to do if they go to someone other than under my quilting machine out there."

Besides donating the time, many of the ladies at the shop donated fabric and batting. At any given time two to six women were working on quilts, normally knocking out a quilt top in one day. Annie Champagne, who is proficient on the long-arm quilter, would donate her time to the quilt once the backing was put on.

Lionudakis said she'd enjoy hearing from any veterans who could use a quilt.

Since opening in 2008, Fields of Fabric has won the People's Choice award at the Heart of the Valley Quilts and Textile Arts Showa.

The shop may be reached at 541-1655 or online at