Who in the Calico Cut-ups Quilt Club is more qualified to share her knowledge about quilting from the past than 90-year-old Millie Hohimer? It was Millie, in addition to 12 other quilters, who parted ways from another Independence quilting group more than 25 years ago and organized the Calico Cut-ups .
Since its inception on Aug. 7, 1991, club members have shown off their quilting and sewing skills every February at a two-day quilt show in Independence. And this year is no exception. The show will be presented from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 9 and 10, at The Salvation Army Corps Community Center, 14700 E. Truman Road, Independence. There is no admission fee, but donations will be appreciated.
Up until this year, the Calico Cut-ups selected a “featured quilter” from its ranks to salute for her quilting know-how. This year the format was changed to allow Millie – the club's oldest active member – to be in the spotlight both days fielding questions visitors may have concerning some of the old quilts on display owned by some of the original 13 members, living and deceased: Helen Johnson, Ardyce Huston, Lois Frost, Vera Duncan, Dorothy Dyer, Jan Lednicky, Barbara Nations, Marge Mahon, Marge Baring, Millie Hohimer, Etha Danforth, Darlene Arnone and Lucy Scheufler.
In a recent interview with Millie and club members Nancy Goans and Carolyn Morrison, Nancy recalls that while most members are “young at heart … we are still growing older, and I wanted to make sure that Millie could tell people about who started the quilt club, how many (members) were there and show the quilts these people created,” she says, adding: “It is important to see where we came from. So I came up with this idea to have Millie present quilts from other quiltmakers from the very first quilt club.”
Visitors can look forward to viewing some 80 to 100 beautiful quilts displayed in The Salvation Army gymnasium.
“We want people to see our beautiful quilts,” Carolyn says. “(Some quilts) may not be the best workmanship, she notes, “but if it satisfies the maker, that's the important thing. We have paper-pieced and rag quilts, appliqué quilts and pieced quilts. We will have a variety of quilts to show, and that is one of the things I like about our show: we have a small group, but we have a real nice variety of quilts to show.”
The featured quilts will be easy to locate. They will be displayed on the left side of the gymnasium as you enter and designated for special quilts. Health permitting, Millie plans to be there to represent the original 13 members and talk about the quilters and their quilts.
“We are bringing the past back. They will get to look at the way quilts were made,” Nancy says, adding: “It shows the progression of our club.”
What will visitors glean from these special family quilts?
“They will find out about the different kinds of quilting we use to do and the people who started the club,” says Nancy. “It's just memories. It's how we started. It's all about our club. It's about Millie, who is so important to us and has brought so much to our club. If it hadn't been for them, we wouldn't be here.”
Says Carolyn: “When Millie started quilting, you didn't have templates. You had cardboard boxes that you cut your shapes from using scissors. Now we use rotary cutters... Quilting has changed since our group started.”
Millie has always had quilting on her mind, she says, since making her first quilt as a 9-year-old.
“It was a nine-piece block,” she says, recalling her mother taught her how to run a treadle sewing machine. “She cut out fabric for the quilt and called it an 'improved nine patch.' It was a nine-piece block, and I was able to sew a straight seam by myself. After I got through with what I was doing on the quilt, my mother put it together for me.”
Yes, Millie still has that “worn-out quilt,” and she is planning to display it at the show, which offers more than old quilts from the club's original members.
Also on display are miniature quilts from The Schoolhouse, a private Independence school operated by Mary Childers. Each quilt bears the name and age of the quilter. In addition, “You are looking at
cutting strips, dimensions and designing,” Marilyn says. “There is so much to quilting, and these kids are doing all this.”
Hungry? Well, why not quench your hunger and thirst by patronizing the snack bar. Proceeds provide funds to send youngsters to The Salvation Army summer camp each year.
Then there is “Falling Leaves,” a 90-by-90-inch Opportunity Quilt, that will be presented in a drawing to some lucky person. Tickets are $1 each or $5 for six. Attendees also have the opportunity to win two large baskets full of quilting-related items valued at more than $200. A dollar will purchase three tickets.
Visitors are invited to visit and patronize the following 10 vendors at the show: First City Quilts, Show Me Quilting, Colors Custom Dyed Cotton, Claude's Country Threads, Cottonwood Sharpening, By the Yard, The Splintered Spool, Quilters Headquarters and Desperate Quilters.
Each year, Calico Cut-ups reaches out to the community through Charity Quilts, which they give to The Salvation Army and to Hillcrest Ministries. The club also has made quilts in the past for Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence to give inner-city children undergoing dental surgery, in addition to the VA Medical Center in Warrensburg, Missouri.
For more information, call Carolyn Goans at 816-217-7739 or Becky Morrison, 816-308-3746.
-- Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.