Quilts depict lives, memories

By JENELLE JOHNSON
Family Living Editor

Register/Jenelle Johnson
Iola quilters whose work will be displayed during Saturday’s Molly Trolley tour are from left, front row, Norma Barclay and Helen Sutton, and back row, Susan Hoffmeier, Judy McGraw and Melanie Behrens. Not pictured are Martha Capper and Joyce Roath.

Quilts can evoke a wide range of emotions and memories. Heirloom quilts may bring back memories of generations past while other quilts may bring the promise of a bright future such as a wedding or the birth of a child.
Quilts of all sizes, shapes and designs will be on display Saturday when the Molly Trolley takes riders to view the work of local quilters. Tours will be given at 10 and 11:30 a.m. Quilts are for display only, not for sale.
The trolley will make its first stop at the home of Susan Hoffmeier where visitors will be able to view not only her quilts but also see her quilting room and a quilt in progress.
Hoffmeier began quilting in 1987 after visiting a quilt show in Houston, Texas.
“My quilts are machine quilted, but I like to embellish them with hand-made appliques,” Hoffmeier said.
Visitors will see a quilt she made in honor of Abraham Lincoln and numerous wall hangings of Koi fish, which she made for her husband Gary.
The next stop will at the home of Judy McGraw.
McGraw has been a serious quilter for about 20 years. Her quilts are embellished with hand appliques and some are hand painted.
She said her quilts tend to have floral themes, however, she has made a quilt featuring state birds.
“One of the quilts that I am most proud of is a wedding quilt with blocks that were signed by family members that I made for my daughter Christina,” McGraw said.
The trolley will then travel to Riverside Park where about 25 quilts from Iola quilters will be on display for the tour.
Melanie Behrens said her mother was a quilter but it wasn’t until 4 1/2 years ago that she was bitten by the quilting bug.
Behrens and her husband, Jim, are the owners of the Iola and Chanute McDonald’s restaurants. Her quilts often have a McDonald’s theme which when completed are donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Joplin, Mo.
Helen Sutton said she couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t quilt. She does both hand and machine quilting.
She frequently donates quilts to the hospital for newborns. She said she enjoys making block quilts and samplers.
Norma Barclay began quilting as a child by watching her neighbor quilt.
“Most of my quilts are made from feed sacks that my father would buy. Each feed sack would yield 3 yards of material,” Barclay said.
She also makes and donates baby blankets to the hospital through the Allen County Hospital Auxiliary.
Martha Capper said she began quilting in the mid 1980s to help relieve stress. The first quilts she made were for her granddaughters’ beds. These were machine pieced and tied.
As her hobby progressed she said she enjoyed hand quilting.
“I have made about 50 bed-sized quilts and hand quilted most of them. I enjoy the challenge of working with bright colors,” Capper said.
Joyce Roath was a human resources specialist for the Texas Workforce Commission prior to her retirement in 2003 when she moved to Iola to be near her family.
She began quilting about 20 years ago. Roath took evening classes at the University of Texas in Austin and at the senior center in Georgetown.
“I was lucky enough to learn the basics from master quilters,” she said.
Shortly after moving to Iola, Peg Beech introduced her to members of the Sunflower Quilters Guild. She has been a member of the group for three years.
Roath will be displaying several of her quilts in the Little Theater including a crazy quilt, which is made of silk and velvet. This quilt includes fancy stitches, lace and tatting.
Her medallion quilt she made as practice before trying to hand quilt unfinished tops that belonged to her great-grandmother Mora Schroeder.
The quilters are members of Sunflower Quilters Guild and many of the quilters make quilts that are donated to the pediatric cancer unit at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.
The tour will conclude at the Allen County Historical Museum, where several old quilts are on display.
Tickets, which are $5, should be purchased in advance at the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce office, 208 W. Madison.