Ozarks Quilters Piece Together A Strong Tradition

Dec 28, 2017

Mona McCann, has been quilting since she was a kid:  “I think there’s something real emotional about quilts. I feel like so much of you, is expressed is a quilt.”  Mona-Gail Pearce grew up on a farm with a Clever Missouri mailing address: “I was born in the country, and one of my grandmothers was a quilter, and I thought she was the greatest thing on earth.  My mother and aunt grew up in the Methodist Church in Clever, and I would go to the quilting each week with them.  The ladies would have lunch and talk about things in the community.”

Mona McCann's 1991 Quilt Made For a Grandchild
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

Posters to Wikipedia, suggest Quilting began in Europe, sometime in the 12th Century, and came across the Atlantic to America, with the Pilgrims.  In the years since, American quilts and quilt making has seen a variety of forms, including Colonial Quilts, Medallion Quilts from the mid-19th Century, Whole Cloth, and Crazy Quilts. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are over 21 million quilters in the United States.  Around 300 quilters are members of the Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild.

Judy Glover is the current President of the Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild.  “We meet once a month, the 4th Tuesday of the month, at 10am, and at 6pm.” She says as she operates a bright red, 1957 Singer Featherweight electric Sewing Machine.  “We also have sub-groups (which meet throughout the month) anyone can belong to.  Today, (11/28/17) we are doing Community Quilts, so everyone is working on a Baby Quilt, or a Hospice Quilt, or a Squad Car Quilt, to be given to someone in the community.  Tomorrow, the Quilts of Valor group will meet.”

Connie Bradford, who chairs the Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild, Quilts of Valor Committee, says:  "When we finish up several Quilts of Valor, lap quilts, we will send them to the Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon Missouri.”

Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild President Judy Glover With Her 1957 Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

Each year, says Judy Glover, The Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild, makes 2 formal presentations of Quilts of Valor quilts, to area Veterans.  “We’ve made at least 4 presentations.  The last one, we gave out 22 Quilts of Valor.”

Basically, when Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild sub-groups get together, Quilting Parties break out; much to the betterment of our community, says Judy Glover: “Our goal this year is to supply 400 Doll Quilts, to Crosslines, and we are very close to that goal. We supply to Baby Quilt Ministry, Newborns in Need,  Ronald McDonald House, both Springfield hospitals, and Hospice.  It’s all donated work, it’s all donated fabric.  We do a lot for the community.  Last year, we donated 800 quilts to the community.”

Audio of Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild member’s sewing machines:  1946 Singer Featherweight Electric; 2015 Baby-Lock; 1982 Husqvarna; and a 1954 Singer Featherweight Electric.

Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild Member Karen Stanley
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

As to what quilting is, Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild member Karen Stanley recalls remarks made to the Guild a few years back, by a visiting speaker from Kansas: “To him, quilting is 4 things, and it’s very true.  1. Quilting is Utility…We make quilts to be useful. 2. Quilting is Fellowship…We get together and talk about quilting, we chit-chat about all sorts of things. 3. Quilting is Art…there’s an art factor to even the most simple quilts, and there are some Art Quilts that will blow your mind.  And 5; Quilting is also therapy… A lot of us consider it a Zen type of thing.  It makes us happy.”

I tell my husband Gordon, (quilting) it’s my tranquilizer.  I happen to like almost any quilt, I’m that sold on them” says Mona McCann.

Mona McCann, who did most of her adult quilting with the First and Calvary, Quilters, is also sold on a particular type of sewing machine to do her quilting. A model we heard examples of earlier in this story.  Mona McCann owns 2, Singer Featherweights.  One of which she inherited from her mother, Mrs. Roy E Pearce, of Clever Missouri:  “I have a Featherweight I bought an auction.  I stood there all day to get it.  I wanted one because my mother had one.  She sold a cow to buy her Featherweight, and it still works like clockwork.  They are amazing, and just the neatest things for quilters, because they can carry them, they are in such a small case.”  

Mrs. Roy E Pearce's Receipt For a February 1940 Purchase of a Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine She Sold a Cow to Buy
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

Mona McCann’s mother’s paperwork from her purchase of the Singer, show the transaction took place at the Springfield Missouri Singer Shop, February 26, 1940. 

For information on the Ozark Piecemakers Quilt Guild, www.ozarkpiecemakers.com