Stitch It Up

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From PICC Lines to Quilting, She’s Got a Talent with Needles

Hopkins nurse Debbie King shares her quilting skills with fellow nurses.

by Susan Middaugh

Quilting has been a family tradition for Debbie King, RN, who has been sewing since she was age eight. It is a talent and passion she has shared after work with other members of the Vascular Access PICC Team at Johns Hopkins and the larger world of the nursing profession.

One night last year King gathered six nurses in a room in the hospital’s Weinberg Building to create a quilt for a coworker who was undergoing breast cancer treatment. “Some of them had never sewed before,” King said. But by the end of the evening, these new quilters had decorated pieces of fabric with hearts, butterflies, and handwritten notes of encouragement. Later, at home, King bound and assembled the squares into a finished product for the recipient.

Over the summer King and another nurse from a local hospital will create a quilt incorporating a Baltimore heritage design, to be exhibited at the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s National Magnet Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center this October.  The quilt will then go on to be part of a permanent display at the American Nurses Credentialing Center in Silver Spring.

King sees a relationship between her professional and avocational lives. “My great-grandmother taught me to use and control a needle when I was five,” she said. She uses this skill at work to insert both IVs and PICC lines. However, there’s a difference. “It’s life or death in the hospital,” she said. “With quilting, it’s okay if you take a big stitch or a little stitch.”

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