In less than three months, a small group of ladies from Martha’s Quilters created a stunning one-of-a-kind quilt as a fundraiser to be featured at St. Martha Catholic Church’s Fall Festival in Kingwood.
From left are Dixie Frantz, Clara Russo, Maria Banderia, Helaine Parks, Noreen Borys, Marie Burk and Sally Wasserman. Not pictured: Lynn Butler and Liz Conner. Photo by Michelle Lowe
Fall Festival set for Oct. 3
“When Lynn showed me the quilt pattern, I knew it was something special. The wheels in my head immediately started turning as to the possibilities for a group project,” said Noreen Borys.
It was in July that Lynn Butler shared with Borys a picture of a paper-pieced Nativity quilt that caught her eye on a website called Paper Panache. Butler and Borys both are members of Martha’s Quilters, a parish ministry at St. Martha Catholic Church in Kingwood. It was Borys’ thought for the group to make the very large and intricate quilt as a fundraising project for the church’s Fall Festival. The beautiful quilt will be featured during the live auction.
“What drew me personally to the pattern was the detail of the design and the fact that the whole story of the nativity was so well represented: the holy family, three wise men, a shepherd, angels, the Bethlehem star and even some livestock. The quilt had it all,” said Borys.
“I have done quite a bit of paper-piecing and knew we had enough experienced quilters in our group to share the work and get it done in time for the Fall Festival.”
Taking the lead, Borys recruited six of Martha’s Quilters for the project: Lynn Butler, Liz Connor, Dixie Frantz, Helaine Parks, Clara Russo and Sally Wasserman. She then enlarged the pattern and selected the fabrics and colors for the quilt. Next, Borys organized each week’s assignments into smaller sections. She also kept everyone motivated and on task.
“After the first week’s assignment, some of us admitted to struggling. Many of us had not paper-pieced anything in a long time and some of the fabric pieces were tiny,” admitted Connor.
“By week two, paper-piecing all those little pieces together was much easier.”
All the quilt sections took the seven quilters just four weeks to complete. Then the sections were sewed together into one huge quilt top, measuring 60 inches wide by 40 inches high. The entire quilt top then contained 842 individual pieces of fabric, with many of the fabric pieces smaller than a thumb nail.
After sandwiching the paper-pieced quilt with the batting (the fluffy stuff in the middle of the quilt) and backing fabric, the quilt was ready for basting the layers together. Then for the next several weeks, the quilt traveled from members, house-to-house, for machine quilting. Two of Martha’s Quilters, Marie Banderia and Marie Burk, were also recruited to help with the tedious finishing touches like hiding thread tails and hand sewing the binding.
A labor of love, the stunning Nativity quilt took Martha’s Quilters more than 250 hours to complete and has to be seen in person to appreciate the high quality workmanship and details. Metallic threads, beads and specialty quilting are prominent in this one-of-a-kind quilt that will become a family heirloom to the person that purchases the quilt. The quilt also comes with a sleeve on the back so it can be easily hung.
Martha’s Quilters is a parish ministry of St. Martha’s Catholic Church. Their members make handcrafted quilts all year long that are blessed by the church's priests and given to sick parishioners.
Martha’s Quilters will also have a booth at the Fall Festival & Market being held Saturday, Oct. 3, from noon to 8 p.m. in the church parking lot, 4301 Woodridge Parkway, off Northpark Drive.
The ladies have also been making holiday decorations, table runners, quilts, bags, aprons, baby items and more. Proceeds from sales will benefit Martha’s Quilters’ ministry and the parish.