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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sewing a community together

By Cheryl Schweizer Columbia Basin Herald

QUINCY – It was a good day to get together and work on a sewing project.

The Quincy Valley Historical Society and Museum opened the Heritage Barn April 4 and invited people to bring their sewing machines and sewing projects – or work on a couple of projects provided by museum volunteers. Director of operations Harriet Weber said the idea was to do something fun and get out and about at the same time.

“An old-fashioned time to get together and sew together,” Weber said.

The museum staff had some projects to finish, Weber said, altering aprons and preparing kits for museum projects later this year. But Community Sew Day was about more than that.

“But also, we’ve been really looking for ways this year to bring people together, because people have been quite isolated,” Weber said. “And this is a great way to get some women together. A lot of these women don’t even know each other. So we’re making new friends today, and it’s kind of fun.”

Participants who didn’t have a project could make a potholder or a coaster, known to quilters as a mug rug.

Ann Downs had a project, one she’s been doing for years. Downs and her fellow volunteer Kathy Hope were working on donations for the Days for Girls project, reusable personal hygiene kits which are donated to girls in underprivileged countries. It’s an ongoing project, but it had been a while since volunteers could get together.

“We haven’t been able to do anything for the last – however long it’s been, seems like it’s been forever,” Downs said. “Two years?”

Downs was cutting fabric strips. So was Lynette Meek, cutting squares for a project the museum sponsors for Quincy third graders. The third graders make the squares into their own tiny quilt.

A tiny quilt needs tiny squares, and tiny squares are not that easy to cut even for experienced quilters. Meek was working on it, but she didn’t have a lot of experience with quilting. The chance to play with fabric, though, wasn’t really what brought her to the museum.

“I just wanted to do something different today and just get away from my house,” Meek said.

Bonnie Kelleher said she came to the museum to reacquaint herself with Quincy.

“I’ve just recently moved back to Quincy after being gone for many years. It gives me a chance to meet more people,” she said.

Kelleher is an experienced quilter, but even the most experienced sewer has to rip out a seam from time to time

“I was making a potholder, but I messed it up,” she said.

For a second it looked like the project might work after all – but in the end some seams needed to come out. Kelleher was philosophical.

“If you don’t make a mistake you won’t learn,” she said.

Carolyn Dudley’s daughter found the announcement for Community Sew Day online, and Dudley said it seemed like a great opportunity. She moved to Quincy from Oregon.

“I’ve been wanting to come out and sew, and also to meet people, because I’ve been here two years, and I haven’t met or made friends. As soon as I got up here, COVID hit,” she said. “I’m really tickled to be able to get out and meet new ladies.”

Sewing machines were humming, but people also had plenty to talk about. Florie Weber and Marylou Krautscheid had their phones out, looking at each other’s quilting projects.

Krautscheid had a picture of a project she’d made for a family member.

“I made one for me,” she said.

“Oh – show me,” Florie Weber said.

Krautscheid said Community Sew Day gave her the chance to do something she liked in circumstances that hadn’t been available for a while.

“I wanted to meet some other people and do some other stuff here,” she said. “I’ve been enjoying quilting, and so I just thought, ‘Well, you know what? I think I’m going to give it a try,’” she said.

She was working on the potholder project.

“Trying to. Running into roadblocks here,” she said.

It was the first Community Sew Day, but Harriet Weber said she doesn’t think it will be the last.

“I think this might be something we can do several times in the winter, to get people out,” she said.

Downey said it was a good way to spend a day.

“This is kind of fun. Not kind of – it is fun,” she said.