Quilters gather for ‘good talk and a good stitch’
A crowd of women and one man watched Martha Heimbaugh's every move Tuesday night. She hovered over a box filled with sloshing chemicals. Blot by blot, she added drops of brightly-colored dye.
The colors spread like oil on water.
Heimbaugh then dragged a comb through the mixture, which displaced the blots into a psychedelic pattern.
When the pattern met her expectations, she brought out a white piece of cloth, and with the help of a volunteer, she laid it on the solution.
The colors soaked in.
When she brought the cloth out to show the crowd, they let out a collective sigh of appreciation -- to them it was fun. It was quilting like they've barely seen before.
"Quilt guilds are just now discovering that they can have people come in and do demonstration programs," said Heimbaugh, who owns her own fabric design studio.
Her demonstration taught the Eudora Quilting Bees Quilt Guild a dying process called marbling, a technique similar to what publishing companies use to create the illusion of stone in bookbinding.
The technique adds to the repertoire of the group that first gathered seven years ago to share the joy of good talk and a good stitch.
Eudora Quilting Bees President JoAnn Rodgers joined recently but has immersed herself in the group and the Quilting Bits and Pieces shop on Main Street.
"From the quilt shop I was looking for a guild and they told me about this one so I came," Rodgers said. Rodgers commutes to the meetings from Topeka.
She, like most guild members, has a passion for patches.
"I read quilt magazines and quilt books like a lot of people read novels," Rodgers said.
The group meets on the second Tuesday of each month in the basement of St. Paul United Church of Christ, but does much more. Quilting retreats, for instance.
"We've done a couple quilt retreats," Rodgers said. "I've enjoyed those a lot."
The goal of the quilt retreat is simple.
"You just sit and sew, sew, sew. That's really all you do," Rodgers said. The retreats give the members a chance to focus solely on their work, and exchange ideas.
That's what Kaye Spitzli, a partial owner of Quilting Bits and Pieces, enjoys.
"The diversity of what you learn," Spitzli said. "There's a lot of stuff like what we're doing tonight."
That also helps summarize the draw of people to the guild, Rodgers said. Right now, the Quilting Bees buzz with about 30 members.
"We also enjoy the fellowship of getting together because you learn new ideas and new techniques," Rodgers said.
Heimbaugh, a member of the Blue Valley Quilt Guild, applauded the group's willingness to try new things.
"They're open to exploring the entire world of quilting," Heimbaugh said.