Saturday, January 20, 2018

Quilters Through The Generations - Dorothy Spriester

Today I introduce to you Dorothea (Dorothy) Spriester.  She happens to be the Mother-in-law of one of my Sisters-in-law (though really, more like a sister)...

Dorothy Spreister was born and raised in Wheaton, Illinois and was a lover of the arts… all facets of art. 

Music was always a large part of Dorthea's life. She was a music teacher in the public schools and continued to teach French Horn students privately. Dorothy was a member of several bands and orchestras including Lake Forest Symphony, Northshore Concert Band and Deerfield Community Band. She was most proud of instilling the joy of music to her six children, who played musical instruments throughout their school years, and was able to experience the joy of music.
Her hobbies included music, painting, gardening, genealogy, travel, quilting and grandchildren.

Here you can see how several of her “loves” came together with an antique French horn, turned fountain in her garden…

Her daughter, Pam shared with me, 

“My mother sewed all the time but mainly made clothes for her daughters and herself. She also loved to make craft items and at one time sold her handmade items.”

Above is an example of her paintings...

She had been working on a top for a quilt but never had the opportunity to finish it when she unexpectedly passed away following a surgery in 2009.

I had the honor of finishing Dorothy’s quilt… 

“You were so nice to complete the quilt and my father, Al, had it on his bed after my mother died.” stated Pam Spriester Bell

After receiving the unfinished quilt top, along with the assorted fabrics she had used in the blocks, I spent a great deal of time studying the blocks she had pieced and appliqued.  It needed borders, and the intended finished size was to be a queen, but I wanted the borders to reflect Dorothy's style of quilting, not mine.  I chose a piano key border as the final border.  

I tried to get an understanding of the significance of the blocks and her reasoning for including them.

House block… 

I asked Sharon (married to ron, one of Dorothy’s son’s) about the number embroidered on the block - 1708, aware of her passion for genealogy, I thought it was a year – perhaps the year someone came to the US.  She told me that it was their home's address in Deerfield where they raised their family.

Tree block… 

When my own children were small Sharon and I often planned outings and play dates together.  One of the “annual” outings included apple picking.  Dorothy had kindly invited us to her house to pick apples from their apple trees in the garden.  One of the blocks has four trees on it… no doubt a representation of her trees in the four seasons.  And I just love that she picked fabric with red in it as the apples!

There are several blocks with flowers and hearts… her love for gardening and her family represented here. 

Below are pictures from a trip to Europe with her grand-daughter, Janna,  and with her youngest son and his family in Belguim, in 2008

And the stars??? Well maybe they are representative of her love for travel, a bit of wanderlust... 


These thoughts are all simply my speculation, but I don’t think I am too far off...

When the quilt was completed I was able to deliver it to Sharon & Ron in person.

Pam recalls,
"my mother's grandmother, Dora Miller, quilted. Dora was a sewer like most women growing up in the late 1800s.  This is who taught Mom to sew.

"This Sunbonnet Sue quilt is one of Dora's.  I don't know if she quilted one for each of her granddaughters or if the quilt was handed down thru my grandmother, Dorothy Miller, one of Dora's daughters. I'm not sure of the dating - 1940s or perhaps 1950s?" 

If that is the case, based on the style of fabric, the Sunbonnet Sue quilt may have been a wedding gift for Dorothy and Al, as they were married in 1951.

"My grandmother Dorothy was born in 1907 and although she learned how to sew, I don't remember her ever sewing,  but I know she had a sewing machine. I don't think she found it relaxing and preferred to put her attention to volunteer activities." 

"The only time we collaborated on a project was for my niece, Tracie. We, her grandmother and aunts,  each sewed a block of the quilt for her confirmation. My mother Dorothy came up with the idea, and we each contributed to it. That was the only time we all sat together and sewed.

"It was her idea to make a quilt for Tracie when she was confirmed and got us all involved with the project. I'm not sure why she thought it was so important to make a confirmation quilt, but she was very religious and I guess felt this would mean a lot to her especially when she was older."  

"Let me add...For my mother sewing was her nirvana. At the end of the day she would go down to the basement where for most of her married life the sewing machine was in the basement's 'utility room'. Her machine was opposite the ironing board and dryer, secluded from the tv recreation room. She liked to go down there and have some alone time to be creative and I believe it was one of her best parts of the day. 

After taking care of five children, (six shown at left - Bart was a "late arrival") giving french horn lessons, and taking care of everyone in the family, sewing offered a way to refresh and get in touch with her spirit. 

If time allowed, she would also go downstairs with her 'adult beverage' and sew a little before supper. 

"My sister Laurie has made a quilt. She is very talented with her hands and has crocheted, knitted and quilted. She made this quilt in the 1980s after she was married and it is totally hand sewn. 

I'm so glad my niece, Laurie's daughter, Bev has taken up sewing and has proved to have a natural ability!  The girl is a phenomenal sewer! But no quilt from her so far. 

And no one else in the family has attempted such big sewing projects but I'm hoping to begin one in 2018 if my courage lasts!"

You can see that Pam comes from a family that is full of great talent and skill…

My SIL, Sharon has recently "caught the crafting bug" and enjoys crochet, but is also interested in starting a quilt - She has started collecting fabric scraps using this video as a guide for her pattern...  "every piece is 2" x 3-1/2"...I have lots of smaller scraps I would like to use, and quite a bit of Ron's mom's fabric."

Why not offer some encouragement to Pam & Sharon to take the steps necessary to start a quilt this year?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Wayward Transparency

It seems so long ago that Yvonne, The Quilting Jetgirl shared the quilt-along schedule, instructions for the cutting and construction of this quilt...  The announcement happened in August last year and the instructions came along at an easy pace every few weeks.  

It was easy to follow and easy to keep up!  For this I was grateful.  I participated in a couple Christmas Countdown block sew-alongs and felt overwhelmed when I got a few days behind.  Such. Pressure.  It was all on me... I get it, it is not a race, but I am the type of person that doesn't like to fall behind.  I don't need to be an over achiever and be "ahead of the class" either.

None the less, this quilt along was enjoyable.

The pattern was given for two finished sizes, but because I do like to be different and have trouble "following" directions exactly... I made a mini-quilt.  It only took a bit of time when I got the cutting instructions to figure out what I needed for a 24" finished quilt.  

Once I had picked my fabric and had my adjusted cutting sizes figured, the cutting and piecing were quick.  I did find it somewhat difficult to sit and wait for the next piecing instructions! But I managed to keep occupied with other projects ;)

This was an excellent exercise in color value and would highly recommend it as a beginner quilter lesson! Shoot!  I am a self-taught quilter and have been quilting for years and I learned a lot!

Now for the details...As I stated, it is 24 inches and I used a 100% wool batting (left over from a project several years ago).  It was quilted it on my new Babylock Jazz utilizing an arrow-type pattern.  The binding is the same as the medium fabric.

The backing is a pieced backing with a hanging sleeve...

I am linking up with Quilting Jetgirl's linky party.  Jump over there and check out all of the other amazing Wayward Transparency quilts!  Great colors, amazing quilting patterns and all so different!

Happy Quilting,


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Quilters Through The Generations - Ruth Thurn

Welcome back to Quilters Through The Generations!  Today you will meet Ruth Thurn, Karen Thurn's (of Tu-Na Quilts) mother-in-law.  You will find that Ruth is a kind-hearted, generous quilter who uses her passion for quilting to help others. And I am not talking just a few here and there, but hundreds!  Take it away, Ruth!

Ruth (Meidinger) Thurn

Have you ever made a quilt?

Yes, I have made at least 20 bed quilts and 3 wall hangings, for myself, my daughter, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-niece.  I have also helped make hundreds and hundreds of quilts for Lutheran World Relief.

My sister, Violet, got me and my mom into quilting. Although, my mom was already doing some quilting. My mom, Pauline (Eckman) Meidinger started quilting when she was older and me and my 11 siblings were already grown.  She didn’t have time to quilt when we were little. Quilting is all about cutting up fabric and sewing it back together.   

My mother taught me to sew.  I made an apron.
I don’t recall hearing of any grandmothers doing any quilting.

Tell me a story about your first quilt.

I made a quilt for my daughter, Vicki. It was a scrappy quilt made of many pink cotton fabrics. I hand quilted it with help from friends, neighbors, and my sister, Violet.  She still has the quilt. 
(Unfortunately we don’t have a picture to share)

Have YOU taught someone to quilt? 

I influenced my daughter-in-law, Karen Thurn to quilt.  

You can see more of Karen's quilts over at her blog Tu-Na Quilts, Travels & Eats

Do you have a favorite block?

I like the bow tie block and have made several quilts using it. 

I made a bow tie quilt using shirts from my husband after he passed away. 

When my kids and their families were all together at my house, we gathered around it and hand quilted it. My daughter-in-law, Karen, put me up to making a quilt using Herman’s shirts. That bow tie shirt quilt is on my bed. I’ve washed it many times and it is in good shape.

Karen, Tu-Na Quilts, is in the blue long-sleeved shirt on the back left. 
Tu-Na Helper is in the blue long-sleeved shirt on the back right of the pic. 
Ruth's daughter is in the foreground of the picture along with her husband. 
Two of her sons are also helping and are on the left side of the picture. 
This quilt was made in 2000.

I also made wall quilts using my mother-in-law’s hankies.

When Ruth's mother-in-law passed away, she left over a hundred hankies. Ruth made wall hangings with them.

Do you participate in any quilt groups?

I quilt once a week with the ladies at St. Luke Lutheran Church making mission quilts which are sent through Lutheran World Relief. We take a break from Thanksgiving through the first of January but quilt all the other Tuesdays including summer, unless there’s a funeral or other church function that we can’t.

Below is a group of quilters at  the Senior Center ladies gathering at the Wishek for hand quilting. 
This was taken in the 90s. Ruth is taking the picture.

When I first started quilting, I invited my friends and neighbors to come help me hand quilt sometimes in the afternoons and sometimes in the evenings. It took several days to finish. We made a party out of it. I would then go to their houses to help hand quilt their quilts.

My inspiration comes from within myself. I have subscribed to some quilt magazines in the past.  

Below is a quilt she made for Lena, her daughter's German exchange student.

What is your favorite part of quilting?

The fellowship. 

Ruth Thurn (shown on the left) and her friend and neighbor, Frieda Ketterling (shown on the right), are quilting in Ruth's basement. Frieda would bring her sewing machine to Ruth's farm house and they would sew together. This was taken in the 70s.

My quilting job at church is sandwiching the tops. I have a partner that helps me a lot. If she’s not there, it’s not easy. We put the layers together, and pull things tight and pin around the outside. Then fold and set aside. Someone else comes and takes the quilt and sews around the outside and turns it right side out since it is an envelope style. 

Sometimes a pin is left inside. So we pull out the metal pin part and hold onto the ball end and pull. The pin comes out leaving the head inside.  The inside of the quilt is made up of sheets or we sew pieces we can’t use for the tops or the backs such as clothing with political statements or prohibited patterns. The back is made of whole pieces of fabric or pieced using good sheets or other fabrics.

I used to have the job of cutting the fabric into squares. But I can’t do that anymore. Sometimes I also help tie the quilts when the pile grows large and those ladies need help. I take kit tops and sew them at home. Each kit has the squares cut and numbered. I just have to sew it together. Our group of church ladies make 200 quilts a year. Most go to Lutheran World Relief but we also give some to others who have a need like a family who just had their house burn. If there is a need in the community, we give them a quilt or two.

 This picture is  of the church ladies taking a break during their Tuesday quilting day. 
Ruth is not pictured because she is taking the picture. This was taken several years ago.

We recycle a lot of clothes for the tops of the quilts. The clothes are washed and ironed. Someone’s job is to rip them apart or cut apart the seams. Then the squares are cut and laid out into a pattern and then numbered to become kit tops. Some of our group members take kit tops home to sew. My sister, Violet, sewed a one hundred quilt tops this year by herself. I’ve been working with the church ladies for 20 years.

We save cancelled stamps which are then sent away and the money is used to ship these quilts to Lutheran World Relief. We’re always looking for cancelled stamps that are trimmed. It’s a bit time consuming because we have to trim them ¼” around the outside edge. But it helps us send those quilts to those who need them.

Why do you quilt at church?

It’s something to do. It gets me out of the house. I miss it if we don’t have it. 

(Karen’s note: We can’t plan to visit Ruth on Tuesdays or she can’t come to our house as she has quilting that day. She takes her quilting work at the church very seriously.)

What do you do with your quilts?

I give them away. I only kept the quilt I made with my husband’s shirts (it’s on my bed) and a wall hanging made with my mother-in-law’s hankies. I made all the other quilts for others.

So now you can see that Ruth is one of the most kind-hearted and loving individuals I have ever come across.  To have a hand in such a large project has got to be a blessing!  

Ruth said this about her quilting with the church ladies. “We’re like a well-oiled machine. When one of the links is missing, it doesn’t work so good.” (referring to why she can’t miss a day of quilting.)

Let's do the math here... 200 full-sized bed quilts in a year.  There are 52 weeks in a year, but they take a 6-7 week break from Thanksgiving to New Year's so they have 45 weeks to make the quilts - That means 4-5 quilts per week! I think that all of the St. Luke's Quilting ladies are just as serious about their quilting as Ruth is.  And, no doubt, it involves more time than just the Tuesday's that they meet at the church.  I think they are all beautiful shining examples of generosity... something we can all aspire to be.

Have you ever made charity quilts?
Share your organization's name below in the comments...
Let's make 2018 another year of generous quilters!

Happy Quilting!


See what other quilters are talking about at Quilter Blogs