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Grant County Extension Loving Stitchers

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Club members share patchwork pride, joys, sorrows

The women who attend the Loving Stitchers Club laugh easily and often, and just as quickly shed a tear as they recall difficult times and the encouragement they received from each other.

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The club, which meets every Friday at 10 a.m., is one of two specialty clubs that are part of the Grant County Extension programs.

It is the newest club where women come together around swatches of colorful print fabric and humming sewing machines.

It’s not really like the other homemaker clubs, nor do they want to be. Here, even punctuality doesn’t count and there are no strict rules of order.

Members create fine-quality family heirlooms to be handed down from generation to generation. Much like the old-fashioned quilting bee, the club is a way for women to do some work and spend time together socially.

“I’ve always called it, the vent group, because sometimes people don’t even sew,” said Rosemary Breeden, a charter member of the group. “We just talk and some people need that more than anything. It’s just a nice group. Some of our ladies have lost their husbands, at least four of us. We have one lady whose husband has got dementia. She’s struggling with that and we’re here for her.”

Although the group has only been organized as an extension club since 2016, it was started by Judy Wainscott in the late 90s at Mason Baptist Church.

Later they moved to the community room at the Grant County Public Library, but due to scheduling conflicts, they sought a meeting place at the extension office where they were welcomed.

Last year, they officially formed into one of two specialty sewing clubs. The other sewing club, Happy Stitchers, meets on Mondays.

In 2011, the group completed its first group project, a quilt that they all had worked on. They discussed selling it as a fundraiser for the group, but after Breeden’s husband Gary died that year, the group of friends decided to present it to her as a token of their affection.

“I got the first one, in 2011, and I had no idea that I was going to get it,” Breeden said. “It hangs in my living room. I was going to put it in my sewing room, but I decided to put it where I could see it every day. You think of all the people who put something into it, and even the new people who didn’t work on it, it’s still from the group.”

As his caregiver, Breeden had watched her husband Gary suffer with diabetes and consequently the loss of a leg and dialysis. They were married for more than four decades.
Since then, it’s become a tradition to complete a quilt together and present it to a member who loses a spouse.

“We’ve got another one ready and everyone participates if they can,” Breeden said. “We’ll ask someone to sew a couple of blocks and we’ll sew them into the quilt that we are making.”
Unfortunately, other deaths followed.
Maxine Brown’s husband, Bobby Brown, also died in 2011, Saundra Harney’s husband, Phillip Harney, and Kay Bailey’s husband, Samuel Bailey, both died in 2016.

“They are all expert quilt makers, (talking about the women who have received bereavement quilts) but having one we all had a hand in is kind of nice,” Breeden said.

Janet Weaver of Dry Ridge has been coming to the club for a couple of years, but she learned to sew as a child.
“It’s peace,” Weaver said. “ I get peace. I’m in a different world. I have no troubles, no worries. That’s what it does for me and I sew every day. Last year, my five children each got a quilt—a king-size quilt made for Christmas. The granddaughter got her quilt for a wedding gift. And this year I have 14 living grandchildren and I’m making each one of the grandchildren a quilt, and I’m in the process. Next year, I’ll make each one of my great grandchildren a bed-sized quilt. They have baby quilts, but I want to make them a bed-sized quilt.”

Weaver, like most of the women, has a sewing room at home, but she likes being with the others on Friday. Consequently, when she hasn’t been to Loving Stitchers for a while, her husband encourages her to go in for a little group therapy.

“It’s cheaper than a doctor visit,” Weaver said with laughter. “They are just real sweet people and I think that’s why the name is Loving Stitchers, because we are loving toward each other.”
For Shirley Amyx of Williamstown, Loving Stitchers was just what the doctor ordered.
“I really hadn’t investigated anything about it, because I’m raising grandkids, and it was taking so much of my time to do that,” Amyx said. “I couldn’t afford the extra time to be away from them, but I ended up in the hospital with stress-related things from my heart. My doctor told me, ‘You’ve got to start taking at least one day for yourself.’ So, that was my excuse to start coming. I love it and I go through withdraw when I don’t have it.”
Eva Thompson enjoys making quilts, table runners and wall-hangings. She lives in Pendleton County near the Grant County line and is involved in extension programs in both counties. She personalizes each bereavement quilt from the club with a label.
“I have an embroidery machine,” Thompson said. “We use the words, ‘Given in love by the Loving Stitchers.’ It’s kind of like just being in a family and developing a close relationship with some of the girls, sharing the good times and bad times.”
Sandy Brock, a mother of five, is working on a quilt pattern called Patchwork Blues for her 40-year-old son.
Instead of blue, she chose a color scheme of soft gray, black and white flannels. Some blocks have the appearance of wool tweed or solid gray, while others have deer silhouettes.
“I never did any real sewing until I started out here about two years ago,” Brock said. “I think it was 2014, when I made my first quilt. I was so proud of it and I couldn’t believe that I did it. If you ever run into a problem, all these girls are always willing to help you figure out what to do. There’s always somebody willing to help you. I just really enjoy getting together with everybody. Sometimes, I don’t even get any sewing done, we just talk.”
Maxine Brown, is an accomplished seamstress who has won many blue ribbons and Best-Of-Show awards at the Grant County Fair. She began embroidering when she was 8 years old and learned to quilt from her mother.
“My mom quilted and my grandma quilted,” Brown said. “I was working and I didn’t have time to quilt. In order for my mom to get me interested, when I would go out, she would have it all spread out on the bed, but the blocks weren’t sewed together. She’d say, ‘Now you just go in there and look at that quilt and see if you would change any of the colors—any different, than what I’ve got it laid out.’ She was trying to get me interested. Then, later, she quilted by hand, and I helped her just a little bit, and I said, ‘Oh, Mom, you’ll have to pick mine out, because this is horrible.’ But, I don’t guess she ever did.”
Brown made a wool jacket out of her late husband’s wool-plaid sports coat, along with her wool skirts, and scraps that her mother had left from wool jackets that she made for Brown and her twin brother.
“We were 4 or 5 years old, and the sleeves were a solid blue and the fronts were plaid, and I even used those,” Brown said. “I was in Indiana, in the Amish country, and they had this store that sells all kinds of wool and cotton fabrics, and quilting things, and they had this jacket made-up and displayed. It was beautiful, pink and blue feminine colors, mine isn’t, but I love it.”
Like the others, she could just sew at home, but Brown loves her Friday time with the other Loving Stitchers.
“They are such a loving, caring group and we laugh together, we cry together,” Brown said. “We share all of our sad experiences and happy ones, both. In this group, sometimes I don’t even sew at all. We just talk or look at magazines, but you get inspiration from this group, both spiritually, as well as the satisfaction of, I guess, just being together. We’re just all friends. We are ‘loving stitchers.’
They were brought together by their love of sewing, but they are bound together by something much stronger than fabric and thread. Along with their ideas, hopes and dreams, they have shared life’s deepest sorrows.
“Giving and helping, that’s what we’re here for.” Weaver added. “I’m the care-keeper of the one (bereavement quilt) we have finished. We need to have that for the ‘next occasion,’ as we put it.”
The Grant County Extension office is located at 105 Baton Rouge Road in Williamstown.
If you are interested in learning more about their programs, call 859-824-3355.