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Craft’s decline a sign of the times

Staff writer

Irene Seibel of Hillsboro can’t remember a time before she knew how to quilt. It was a skill her mother, Anna Suderman, taught her at an early age.

“In those days we made quilts for utility sake, not just for hobbies or to look nice,” Seibel said Friday while quilting at Quilts and Quiltracks, downtown Hillsboro.

She said she still keeps her bedroom cold at night, because that was how she grew up.

Seibel, 88, has made about 200 large quilts and 100 baby quilts and wall-hangings over the years. She has several books full of pictures of quilts she has done.

“They’re all rewarding,” she said.

But one sticks in her mind. She quilted one that the late Grace Brandt pieced for the Mennonite Central Committee sale.

“That was a beautiful quilt,” Seibel said.

She said her daughters sew but don’t quilt.

“They don’t have the time for that,” Seibel said. “The young generation doesn’t have time to sit and quilt.”

She, however, is quite happy to take the time.

“Maybe that’s why I quilt; you have time to reflect,” she said.

Quilting alone is especially good for reflection, she said. But she also likes the camaraderie of quilting with others.

Despite the increase in popularity of machine quilting, Seibel still does all of her quilting by hand, using a thimble to protect the finger with which she pushes the needle.

“It’s disappointing to me that hand quilting is going by the wayside, but machine quilting is very popular,” she said.

She does little quilting for herself, but she said she enjoys quilting for others, especially her children and grandchildren.

“In fact, I’m quilting for my great-grandchildren now,” Seibel said.

Last modified Feb. 16, 2011

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