Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 4, 2003

'Girls' quilting weekend' makes stop in Winsted

By Julie Yurek

More than one dozen women made themselves at home at Marnie and Marv Ebensperger's residence in Winsted July 24.

They came from Michigan, California, New York, and even the Bahamas.

Then they proceeded to cut, iron, and sew their hearts out until they had to leave July 28.

It was the fourth annual Blaylock girls' quilting weekend.

Marnie's sisters, nieces, and her own daughter, Rebecca, took part in the family tradition that weekend, which originally started four years ago in 1999. Blaylock is the sisters' maiden name.

At the peak of the weekend, a total of 13 women and two little girls were at Marnie's home: sisters Mary Ferguson of the Bahamas, Nancy Liebert of Rochester, N.Y., Jean Hockman of Fenton, Mich., Marcia Kwiecinski of Lansing, Mich., and Marnie; sister-in-law Karen Blaylock of Bloomington; daughters Amy Hentschke of Rochester, N.Y, Marnie Barnes of St. Paul, Heidi Liebert of Rochester, N.Y (Nancy's daughters), Mandy Erickson of San Diego, Calif. (Jean's daughter), Laura Blaylock of Stillwater (brother Dick's daughter), and Rebecca Ebensperger of Winsted (Marnie's daughter).

Amy's daughters, Abby, 3, and Sarah, 2, also joined the group for part of the weekend.

Mary's daughter, Anne Marie Ferguson, who lives in the Bahamas, and Marcia's daughter, Jean Lauer of Austin, Texas, have yet to join the annual quilting weekend.

The brainchild

The sisters and nieces credit Jean with starting the tradition.

The sisters all learned to quilt from each other, Marnie said.

The first year it was at Jean's home in Bloomington on Labor Day weekend.

The second year Nancy, of Rochester, N.Y., hosted the get together.

For the third year, it was at Jean's new residence near Fenton, Mich.

Next year, the event will be conducted at Marcia's house in Lansing, Mich. The gathering will probably take place sometime in the fall due to Heidi's wedding in August, she said.

The cost of airline tickets and material is split among the women, Marnie said.

Cutting and sewing at time-warp speed

The group doesn't do the actual making of the quilts during the weekend.

What they do is cut and sew enough squares for each person to take home with them and make a queen-sized quilt. Mothers take home material for the daughters who can't attend.

In all, squares to make about 18 quilts are constructed during the three-day affair.

It takes 192 squares to make one queen-size quilt, Marcia said.

This year, almost all the women arrived the evening of July 24, so work didn't begin until the next day, July 25, and wrapped up July 26.

The last full day that everyone was present, July 27, was saved for a family picnic.

The sisters' six brothers and their families came to the Ebenspergers' residence for a backyard barbeque.

During the two quilting days, everyone mans a station, either cutting, sewing, or ironing.

"There should never be a quiet sewing station," Jean said with a chuckle.

Marnie started the work before anyone arrived. She washed and ironed all the fabric, which was an estimated 100 yards.

She also made T-shirts for everyone, with the motto "Sew many quilts, sew little time," on the front, and "Fourth Annual Blaylock Girls' Quilting Weekend. Winsted, MN July 24-28, 2003."

Five sewing stations were created ­ two in the dinning room and three in the living room. Hutch Sew and Vac let Marnie borrow three sewing machines free of charge, she said.

Four of the machines were used to sew three long, separate two-inch wide strips into one solid five-inch strip, and the fifth machine was for making nine-patch squares.

Marnie's kitchen was set up with two cutting stations and an ironing board. The dining room also had an ironing board, as well as the rack of strips waiting to be sewed.

Marnie's nieces, Mandy and Amy, worked in the kitchen cutting the long two-inch strips of material and then later, cutting five-inch squares from the one solid five-inch strip.

Heidi ironed the five-inch strips before they were cut into squares.

Five-inch strips contained either two light-colored strips and a dark-colored one or two darks and one light.

Once the five-inch strips were cut into quilt squares, they lined the piano keyboard, all counted and in neat order. The squares go home in bags, ready for quilting.

Finished product

Finished quilts from last year's quilting weekend were to be brought to Marnie's house this year. Since the actual making of the quilts is done at each woman's home, the quilts all look different.

The ladies hung last year's quilts on the clothes line and volleyball net during the family picnic so everyone could see.

Though each person had the same material, unique patterns were designed and sometimes borders were added.

This year, the women have two color schemes to choose from for the first time, either green/earth tones, or bright tones, such as pink, yellow, and blue.

This year's quilts will make the trip to Marcia's home next year.

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