NEW ULM - "Prairie Piecemakers is an organization of quilt lovers, novices and experts alike who share their love of fabrics, design, color and the finished product."
That's how members of the Prairie Piecemakers quilting club in New Ulm start each of the club's meetings, and the "pun-ishment" included in the second word of the title provides a great clue that the quilting club's members enjoy themselves immensely when they meet.
That's particularly true, and important, now that club members are in the final days of preparations to host the area quilt show the last weekend of March. But, although club members are pressed for time, their love of spicing things up with humor continues to reign supreme.
Photos by Steve Muscatello
Pictured are quilts made by sisters and Prairie Piecemakers Quilt Guild members Betty Kuck and Ruth Tauer.
Their "Welcome to Quiltsville" brochure, to be handed out to people attending the Prairie Piecemakers Quilt Show at the New Ulm Middle School (Friday, March 26, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 27 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), is loaded with humor.
Entering from the State St. side, for example, besides watching quilting demonstrations, you can walk down Quilt Sandwich Dr. to Quilter's Caf. From there, you take the next right on Quilt Alley to where it joins Batting Blvd. A hard right and an almost immediate left puts you on Drunkard's Path. A left on Pattern Parkway takes you over to Quiltsville.
This will be the third show that the Piecemakers have held. The local guild alternates with the Mankato guild in hosting this annual event.
If you go ... to the Quilt Show
Presented by The Prairie Piecemakers Quilt Guild
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, March 26 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 27
Where: DAC (formerly NU Middle School)
"The show is not a 'judged' event, other than by the people in attendance who will vote for their favorites, but is held to share our love of quilting and to hopefully inspire others to join in the fun of quilt making," says member Joleen Koch of New Ulm [the guild isn't big on titles].
And, there will be plenty to see. Over 200 quilts will be on display, and that number includes over 50 Queen size quilts, plus King, full, twin, lap, baby and even miniature quilts. Visitors also will find such things as table runners, wool pieces, wearable art, bags, more than 50 wall hangings, as well as hand-quilted and machine-quilted quilts, Koch said.
So, how does one get started in such a rather artistic endeavor, anyway?
"I think, for most of us at some point in our life, we started quilting, maybe a grandmother quilt or mother quilt, and you kind of get that bug. So, for me, my mom was a quilter, and so that's how I got started. My sister is a quilter, too," Koch said.
"We have some very talented and gifted quilters in our organization. I think if they're going to come to the show, they'll find quilts that are at a beginning level, as well as incredibly exquisite hand-applique quilts that you just want to touch, you know?"
"We also have award-winning quilts. There are a couple that have been not only regional but national winners within our applique group," member Karen Cottom of New Ulm interjects.
"I always sewed my own clothes and things, and I am an artist. So, when I moved here [to New Ulm], there was no art group. So, I sought out a quilting group because I knew there would be ladies, and I knew they probably would be in my age bracket," member Marlene Hutchins of New Ulm explained.
"So, I quickly told them I was not an official quilter, but I am going to be. But, I also wanted to make friends, and it really does come true. I made wonderful friends in this group."
Hutchins has found that quilting is an art form in and of itself. Hence, it gives her opportunities to work with a variety of colors like she would in making art.
"Exactly, and the colors that I painted I do a lot with material. Yes, it's very much [an art form in and of itself]," Hutchins confirms.
While there's the addictive factor and the need for enormous patience that comes with quilting, in the end, it's the ability to create that really grabs a person, says member Mickey Fischer of Sleepy Eye.
"Actually, I think that the love of quilting comes from being able to create. You know, you get to be a certain age, and you've created your children, you've created your home, you've created your garden, and, oh, what else can I create. You walk into a quilt shop, and you go, oh, my gosh. I could just roll in this fabric. I love it so much!" she said.
"You get to the quilt meetings, and they're showing you all these different patterns. They're just gorgeous, you know. You go home, and you think, wow, now I've got to buy something else to go with something else. So, quilting is really very creative. It's an extension of yourself."
Ron Larsen can be reached at email@example.com