COLUMN: Heartland Quilt Guild – more than meets the eye

Talented artists display their projects during Show and Tell at the Heartland Quilt Guild meeting (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

As I drove to the January meeting of the Heartland Quilt Guild on Thursday night I knew what to expect – four or five sweet, softspoken grandmothers sitting around a table laying out their pieces and hand stitching their quilts. Right? Wrong. So very wrong. 

When I pulled into the parking lot of Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church on St. Joseph Drive there were no cars to be found. Perhaps I was too early. The meeting wasn’t to start for another five minutes. Another vehicle pulled into the parking lot and pulled to the back of the church. Aha! I found my handful of demure quilters, I thought! 

As I rounded the corner I was shocked to see several cars, dozens of them. OK, this is cool. My calm demeanor evaporated when I entered the room filled with tables packed full of women, almost 40 as I recall. Suddenly, I felt almost 80 eyeballs sizing me up. Going into reporter mode, I eased up against the back wall and tried to blend in with the wallpaper. Except there was no wallpaper. 

Let me point out here that I have a history of crippling social anxiety, the kind that didn’t allow me to leave the house for weeks in the past. Full on hyperventilating ugly panic attacks aren’t unfamiliar to me, although it’s been a while since I have been visited. As I tried to fade into the wall, I felt the dreaded warmth rising from my neck making its way to my face. Oh boy. 

About that time a jovial lady beelined her way to me. Upon determining that I was just “the girl with the paper,” Hazel Ruehl went back to her seat and the meeting continued. And meet they did. There were minutes to approve, health updates to provide, door prizes, membership reports, budget approval and much more. 

The best part of the evening was show and tell, where members had the option to show off their projects. Holiday table runners, tote bags and stunning quilts were displayed and appreciated. It was magnificent! 

“I took a class at the Agriplex and I needed something to keep my hands busy,” shared Laurie Osborne. “I met Hazel there and she invited me. I didn’t have a clue about any of it. I had never quilted. That was four years ago. No one in my family sews. They’re not crafty. Here there’s a group of women with the same interest. We get to tap into their knowledge, which is really cool. I get inspired during show and tell and I love the camaraderie.” 

A little bit about me- I’m pretty crafty. I learned to crochet and embroider at 6. I know my way around some cross stitch and can do rudimentary sewing. That’s actually not true. I can sew fairly well, but I’m impatient. Things need to be pressed and laid out just right and such. Being patient isn’t my jam. I drink too much coffee for that nonsense. 

The challenge I’m embarking on this year is daunting. I am determined to make a quilt. The goal isn’t one of those amazing masterpieces I saw on Thursday night or anything like them. My plan is to make my first (and only?) patchwork quilt with a bunch of squares hopefully sewn together and maybe relatively aligned. In this monthly series I’ll be sharing my progress and my setbacks. I imagine the process won’t be pretty but, with the help of the Heartland Quilt Guild, maybe my first quilt will be. 

The Heartland Quilt Guilt meets on the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are held at Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church on St. Joseph Drive. 

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