- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

LEXINGTON, Neb. (AP) - Quilt blocks made by schoolchildren 30 years ago are finally being made into a quilt.

The project linked a new generation because Abbi Sutton, the daughter of Kim Sutton, one of the original students, now is working on the quilt.

The Kearney Hub (https://bit.ly/1R1CrOn ) reports that Jane Hibberd’s 1985-1986 second-grade class at Bryan Elementary School drew pictures on white squares of cotton fabric, possibly using markers, to make quilt blocks. They signed and labeled the squares.

A solid green fabric was used to frame and connect the 18 squares, including one made by Hibberd, to make a quilt top. That’s where the project stopped, until now.

At some time, the unfinished quilt was donated to the Dawson County Historical Museum, but records aren’t clear when or who donated it. Hibberd died in March 2012.

The quilt top and matching green fabric for a back, along with green yarn, were located in a box at the museum during the summer by Curator and Display Coordinator Cheri Bergman.

When Bergman displayed school quilts in October, she decided to include the unfinished quilt. She made a sign asking if anyone would like to finish it.

When friends Marge Bader and Sheila Egenberger saw the quilt, they contacted retired teacher and quilt maker Muriel Shea about the project.

“Both of them know I get excited about quilts, so they contacted me and asked if I would finish it up,” Shea said. “I was really touched to be asked to do this.”

Shea said she is curious about who sewed the fabric squares together.

“I’m wondering who put it together, if it was a mother of a student,” Shea said. “It’s very well-done and as far as I know Jane didn’t even have a sewing machine.”

Bader and Egenberger offered to purchase the batting which is sandwiched between the fabric layers when making a quilt. Otherwise, all the supplies needed were with the quilt when it was donated to the museum.

“We thought we would do this in honor of Jane,” said Bader.

“I don’t think I would do anybody’s (quilt),” Egenberger said.

Bader and Egenberger joined Shea in her home for some quilt tying sessions. They threaded large needles with yarn and pulled the strands through the layers about every four inches. Later the quilt was removed from the frame and the pieces of yarn were tied together to make a knot and trimmed.

Bader said she recognized some of the names on the quilt blocks because they are of people still residing in Lexington and she wondered if any of those now grown students would like to help.

Last week, Shea invited Kim Sutton to come to her home because they have worked on quilts before.

Sutton said when she saw the quilt she could tell that kids made it, but she didn’t realize she was linked to it.

“I started reading the names, and I recognized them, and then all of a sudden it was ‘Oh my gosh, that’s mine,’” she said.

As a child, Sutton, who was then Kim VerMaas, made one of the quilt block pictures.

“I always made rainbows, so I’m not surprised I chose rainbows,” Sutton said.

Although she doesn’t specifically remember the class making quilt blocks, seeing the quilt brought memories of her classmates and that time in her life. She is excited that the quilt can be used as a conversation piece during her upcoming 20th high school reunion this summer.

Sutton also remembered that she transferred to Bryan Elementary School during second grade and that Hibberd was very welcoming and made her feel comfortable.

Sutton and her daughter, Abbi, who is currently in the second grade at Bryan Elementary, have helped Shea work on the quilt ever since they learned of it.

“I thought it was weird that she (Sutton) went to the same school as me and was in the same grade as me,” Abbi said.

Abbi said she likes to sew and has made some pillows. When she draws pictures she likes to draw houses with trees and tire swings. She also draws pictures of things she has done with her family, such as a picture of skiing with slopes.

Abbi said she liked working on the quilt. As taught by Shea, Abbi told others who came to help that they had to be able to count to three for the number of times to cross and knot the strands of yarn.

After the knot was tied, the “wrinkle” on the index finger marking the first joint was used to measure how much yarn to leave and where to clip off the extra.

“We’ve had fun learning the little bit we’ve learned about quilts from Muriel,” Sutton said.

As people work on the quilt, they remember Hibberd and talk about her influence. Shea said Hibberd was gentle with a good sense of humor and she taught Shea’s two sons.

“Every child had a good point. She never put anybody down,” she said.

Bader also remembered Hibberd as a kind person. Hibberd taught Bader’s two sons.

“I just get excited looking at it. I think just because I respected Jane Hibberd so much,” Shea said.


Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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