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They embroider heirlooms, one stitch at a time

Managing editor

With thimble and needle in hand, the women carefully stitch together 80-year-old quilt blocks.

As intertwined as their stitches, each block tells a story.

Some of the fabric was from feed sacks; some, leftover material from clothing.

Nellie Jost points out that feed sack fabric is more loosely woven than traditional material used for clothing.

Regardless of origin, the project is authentic, employing material originally sewn in the 1930s.

The quilt blocks being assembled in 2009 belonged to Elma Flora, who died in 1949 at age 91.

Her granddaughter, Mary Dudley had stored the 16 blocks and three quilt tops in a cedar storage chest built by her grandfather.

Dudley used the tops to make three wedding gifts.

Every weekday afternoon, four women — Nellie Jost, Helen Fenstermacher, Elfreda Fast, and Betty Barr — have been gathering at Hillsboro Senior Center, where Dudley is director, to piece together the 16 remaining blocks. Some days they meet for an hour; other days, longer. They are making a single wedding ring pattern.

With nearly 100 years of quilting between them, the women share the joy of creating a work of art.

Most started quilting at home in an era when every young girl learned to sew and quilt.

Fenstermacher is quilting now for her grandchildren. Fast learned before she was married but recently returned to the hobby after she retired.

said she learned to quilt in Reedley, Calif.

Jost made her first quilt when she was in fourth grade.

“If you can sew, then you can quilt,” Barr said.

Their work will not go unrewarded.

The heirloom quilt will be part of an auction in the fall to raise money for the Senior Center.

Plans are to clean out the center by selling items no longer in use.

Items donated by the community also will be sold, Dudley said.

Crafts and baked goods will be included in the auction. Clint Seibel has volunteered to be auctioneer.

The quilt will be completed in a few weeks and will be on display at the Senior Center before the auction.

Date and time of the auction have not yet been announced.

Last modified July 1, 2009

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