Big Changes Happening on August 7, 2019.

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Making quilts for veterans, others quite a stitch

Making a quilt block is like building a house. It does not matter if you are using thread and fabric or brick and boards. The same basic rules apply. Measure twice and cut once. Anything less, will result in a messed up quilt block, or a house that won’t stand.

Of course, a quilt begins with a quilt pattern, as a house needs a blueprint. So, the first thing is to read the pattern correctly. I could have simply studied the picture of the finished block at the end of the pattern. However, I looked it over a few days ahead of time. I read the written portion, and yet, I did not notice that each block needed four solid blue squares for each corner.

I am not a born quilter. It was something I learned after my husband passed away, and I was looking for something to fill up some free time. Since we had a quilt group in Tigerton, I thought I’d try that. The women of Woven Hearts Quilt Guild were patient and helped me learn the basics of piecing a block. We would have a block of the month, and were supposed to make two blocks, one patriotic, and the other out of certain colored fabric.

I quickly learned what having a “stash” meant, as I needed fabric. Soon my basement, became a pile of fabric stash. I usually had three or four quilt projects going on one time. One or two nearly finished, one in the process, and another with fabric purchased, waiting to be cut.

I remember winter days and summer days holed up in my basement working on a quilt, or maybe a little on several projects. Measuring and ironing and measuring and more pressing, are all part of the quilting world.

Eventually, the quilt group disbanded, I fell and tore my rotator cuff, and my passion for sewing fancy quilts waned. I still do quite a bit of sewing, baby quilts for the great-grandbabies; and mission quilts for our church mission quilt group. I enjoy it, and I can stop and rest when my shoulder bothers me.

The last queen-sized quilts I made were five years ago, when two grandchildren got married. One in January, and one in June. I remember the one in June was especially difficult for me, as I ripped it apart a couple of times.

Finally, I decided to make rows of flying geese, to set the eye in a direction other than the quilt was not exactly in 4 centered sections as this pattern called for. Quilters call that “giving character to the quilt.” Autumn leaves and flying geese, it was striking to say the least.

Over the years, I have been reducing my stash by letting friends, or whoever would love my fabric as much as I do, go shopping for free in my basement. A lot of material has left, but it is amazing how much is still down there. Plus there are patterns, and a few UFOs still waiting for me to finish. A UFO is an unfinished quilting project.

However, earlier this year, a friend asked if I would make two blocks for the Quilts of Valor. I agreed, as it is nice to work on something a little more challenging now and then, and I believe it to be a good cause. Making two blocks is not as daunting as compared to making enough for a full quilt.

The pattern seemed simple enough, a floating Ohio star. However, as I sewed, I was running out of blue blocks. “How can this be?” I thought. I had cut the specified amount of blue and white blocks. Eventually, I figured out I was even running out of white blocks. Crisis situation was that, while I had extra blue material to cut from, my white fabric was limited.

I was frantically agonizing over this situation, when it dawned on me, that all blue blocks did not get white blocks sewed on for star points. The four in the corners were plain blue. Once that was clear in my brain, I had to get the seam ripper out, and rip white blocks off some of the blue blocks.

What a relief I felt when I had the two blocks sewed together, and they measured the required 12½ inches. These blocks, along with all of the others, will come together, with several being finished to become gifts for veterans. What an honor to be asked to participate in this worthy cause.

Tigerton resident Leah Lehman, who calls herself a “small town country girl at heart,” offers memories of the past and observations of current events from the the viewpoint of someone born in the 1940s.