UPPER SANDUSKY - The Wyandot Piecemakers of Upper Sandusky are to celebrate 25 years as a quilting club with a quilt show Saturday. Last week, five members of the group gathered at the Wyandot County Courthouse to talk about the club and its projects and to display some of their individual projects.
Bette Snyder and Leona Roszman are charter members of the club. Also present were members Marna Butcher, Connie Mattix and Ann Dunbar. They brought out the Piecemakers' Wyandot Indian Quilt, which is on display at the court house as part of the county's history.
Snyder said a former member, Rosie Jordan, had suggested constructing the Indian quilt. Jordan traveled to the Wyandot nation in Oklahoma to obtain permission to use the tribe's colors and symbols in the quilt.
The club's major community service project is making and donating a quilt each year to Hospice of Wyandot County. Usually, the hospice quilt is completed in the spring and given to the agency in October for the drawing around Thanksgiving.
"We make a quilt and donate it to hospice, so they sell raffle tickets. ... We sell chances on it, and hospice sells chances on it," Dunbar said.
Roszman brought a quilt with a pattern called Garden Twist. On the backing, she wrote the date of the quilt with fabric marker. She did the piecing by machine and the quilting by hand over a two-month period.
Her favorite patterns are the bargello design and Grandma's Flower Garden. Comprised of hexagon-shaped pieces, the design is good for using scraps.
Roszman said she can't seem to get rid of all the scraps she has accumulated.
"I've been quilting all my life, I think. I made my first quilt when I got married in 1944. ... My first one was made out of feed sacks," Roszman said. "On the inside was sheet blankets."
"One thing we've always said about Leona, she had thimbles on both hands. When we used to quilt our hospice quilt, she was so fast. We just sat around and watched her," Snyder said.
Snyder said she has been sewing for more than 50 years. Before retiring as a newspaper editor, she made garments to wear to work, and she continues to make clothing for her grandchildren.
Her interest in sewing broadened during a tailoring class she took as an elective at Ohio University in the 1960s. At the time, there were no stores that sold fabric, so the class wrote to the Lazarus company and requested samples. They used the samples to order wool and corduroy for their class projects.
"That was probably what changed my life. We had a good teacher, and she said 'You're going to make your interview suits.' So we made hand-bound buttonholes, put in shoulder pads. She was excellent ... a perfectionist," Snyder said.
As for the quilts, Snyder said she has made about 100 quilts at a rate of three per year. She has used every technique in creating her quilts, including hand and machine quilting, hand and machine applique, and embroidery. Snyder prefers 19th-century patterns.
"I have probably every book that's ever been written. If I see a book on it, I buy it to keep in my library. There used to be a lot written about that period of quilting, but there hasn't been in the last 10 years. I also have a computer program of 19th century blocks, and I use that a lot," Snyder said.
A member of the guild for more than 10 years, Butcher said she joined when she moved to Upper Sandusky and a friend invited her to a guest night. She has given quilts to
friends, children, nieces and nephews. As part of the Piecemakers' activities, she has made a few baby quilts, as well. Although she used to make clothes for her children, she now does more mending than anything.
"I sew about everything anybody wants sewed, if there's anything to mend. People think they can't even thread a needle any more. I wonder what they did before I moved up here," Butcher said.
She brought a quilt she made with the Crown of Thorns pattern. She chose the design from a book because she thought she could manage putting it together. She estimated spending about two months on the project. It is one of about 30 full-sized quilts she has made. At first she was making two or three quilt tops and having them machine quilted, but that was expensive. Now she does mostly machine piecing and hand quilting.
"It's kinda fun when you're working with it. As you turn it in your quilting frame, you look at something different, Butcher said.
Connie Mattix is a relatively new member to the club, joining in 2006. She enjoys trying different patterns and prefers scrap quilts. Her current project is a variation of the log cabin design. Each square has an orange star in the center with contrasting strips radiating from each star.
Although she doesn't always follow the instructions, this one required that she measure and construct it as directed. Like Roszman, she keeps all the trimmings.
"I don't throw nothing away ... I have a shoebox full of all these triangles," Mattix said. "Someday, they'll be something."
To use up her scraps, Mattix gets out a sheet of graph paper and comes up with a design that will use up pieces she has on hand.
She said she has learned that stars with rounded points are more
difficult to stitch than those with sharp points.
Ann Dunbar remembers sewing doll clothes by hand and later making some of her own garments and craft items. A couple high school home economics classes added to her expertise, and she helped with a quilt her mother was making.
"My mom used to sew for us when we were kids, so I've always remembered her sewing at home ... My mom did a quilt with the hexagons, Grandma's Flower Garden. She started that when I was in high school, and I used to take the patches and quilt them in study hall. ... Then she would put them together," Dunbar said.
In the mid-1990s, Dunbar joined the Wyandot Piecemakers.
Many of her projects have incorporated Civil War reproduction fabrics, which she buys at a shop in Marion. She also works part-time for a sewing shop in Upper Sandusky.
With the depressed economy, home sewing has experienced a resurgence, she said.
"When somebody buys a new sewing machine at the Bernina dealer, I teach them how to use it," Dunbar said. "You wouldn't believe how fast those things go out of there ... Some of the people coming into the store have two, three or four machines."
In addition to her mother, Dunbar had an older aunt who did a lot of sewing on a treadle sewing machine. Before her death at age 104, her aunt and another relative made a number of Texas Star quilts out of scraps they had saved.
"Mom still has one and my older sister got one ... she had cataract surgery, and she could barely walk, but she could sew," Dunbar said of her aunt.
Dunbar brought a quilted square she uses to decorate a table in her home. It is machine pieced and hand quilted. She has made others to coordinate with holidays and seasons.
Dunbar and two other women have made quilt tops that were finished and donated as raffle prizes during the festival at St. Peter Church in Upper Sandusky.
"I went to that school and so did my son," Dunbar said.
In the past, the Piecemakers tried to have quilt shows every other year at Fairhaven Home. Upper Sandusky used to have an annual community festival, and the Piecemakers hung their quilts from all three floors of the courthouse during the festival.
The most recent quilt show was about five years ago.
Sometimes, members of quilt guilds in other counties come for guest nights with the Piecemakers, and the Wyandot County members try to attend other quilt shows.
At the monthly meetings, the club usually has a demonstration or presentation and time for show and tell to see what everyone is working on.
On occasion, the Piecemakers schedule a Saturday work session at Fairhaven.
"Sometimes, everybody works on the same project. Sometimes it's an unfinished project work Saturday," Dunbar said. "We have a guest night at the beginning of our membership year with desserts. Then we have a silent auction and everybody brings their give-aways. The money goes to the club."