Quilting for a service, and to pass the time

Staff writer

Two ladies at Marion Senior Center spend a couple days a week helping others with their sewing skills.

Sue Clough and Shirley Bowers of Marion put quilts together for people in the community.

“People bring in their quilts and we put them together and then quilt them for a fee,” Bowers said.

The duo quilts anywhere from two to three large sized quilts a year and several small ones.

“Quilting takes a long time because it’s difficult,” Bowers said. “After someone puts all the squares together, they bring it in and we put the batting and backing on the quilt, then attach it to a frame, and then put them all together.”

She said what makes quilting so difficult is because you have to go through so many layers and keep perfectly straight lines.

Clough said she got involved with the quilting group nine-years ago after moving to Marion.

“I knew how to sew,” she said, “but it was hard for me at first because I could not keep a straight line. I had to learn how to “rock my needle” to get my lines straight because you can’t just simply pull your thread through the front and back of the quilt and get a straight enough line.”

Clough said working on the quilts is a good time for fellowship, to think, and to de-stress.

“Whenever I need to just relax,” she said. “It’s nice to sit and work on the quilt.”

Clough said what she likes the most is working on old quilts. She said she has worked on quilts from the 1900s and 1920s.

“It’s an honor to work on those quilts because I can just imagine the elderly ladies who made them with no help and such hardship. We are lucky to have the tools and lighting we do now. The quilts from those days were made with dull needles and by candle light. They would have been very difficult to make.”

According to Bowers, members of the center have been quilting for the community since the 1960s.

“It could be longer than that,” she said, “but that’s as far back as I know. There used to be a whole bunch of us that would get together and quilt. We would finish a quilt a month we had so many people.”

The duo is currently working on a “log cabin” pattern quilt made by Dorothy Gilbert.

The pattern starts with a small square piece of fabric, which represents a fire. The small rectangle pieces of fabric that span from the center square progress from lighter to darker colors to represent where the light hits.

Clough and Bowers estimate the quilt to represent six months of work when they are finished.

“It’s not a hard pattern, but it’s intricate to quilt,” Bowers said.

Gilbert said she put the quilt together from odd and end pieces of fabric she had left over from other quilts. It took a summer to make.

She estimates she has made over 300 quilts since picking up the hobby in the 70s. Gilbert has quilts across the country and in Ireland and Australia she has made for friends and family.

“It’s just a past time,” she said, “something for me to fill my time with.”

 

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