I always love going to the Maumee Valley Antique Steam and Gas Show. The quilt show is always my first stop where it is fun to hang out with fellow quilters and view this year’s entries. There is a constant stream of visitors with ballots in hand finding it a challenge to decide which one is their pick for “Viewers’ Choice.” Arriving late in the day, I was there when the winner was announced: Judy Witte’s quilt simply called “Butterflies.” The quilt is comprised of pairs of colorful hand appliqued and embroidered butterflies flitting in squares with cross-hatch hand quilting throughout. The butterflies on the left, due to their angle, look three-dimensional like they could take off and fly at a moment’s notice. The quilting was done by the hands of Judy’s good friend Carole Sorg. Judy could not do it herself for a good reason that Judy shares:
“This quilt pattern was made from one of the many cardboard and newspaper quilt templates I inherited from my Grandmother Ella (Bieberich) Schueler. She was born August 6, 1899 in Preble Township. She married George Schueler from Preble where they raised their three children: Esther Meyer, Melvin Schueler and my mother, the middle child, Eldora Thieme on the family farm. Grandma was a very special person and influence in my life as I lived with my grandparents for two years as an infant to a toddler. My mother had gone overseas to Italy to be with my father Lorenz Thieme who was in the Air Force serving his country during World War II.
After the war’s end my parents returned and I would spend every summer with my grandparents. During those summers, my grandmother would instill in my mother, my cousin Karen (Meyer) Ross and me her love of crafts, sewing and quilting. There were some crafts like lace tatting, crochet and knitting she could not teach me: I was forced to use my left-hand because at the age of two I had four of my fingers cut off and reattached due to a nasty encounter with a feed grinder. It wasn’t until I started elementary school at a little two-room school house that my fourth through eighth grade teacher converted me back to using my right hand.
I never quit loving crafts and the needle arts, especially sewing and quilting. I taught myself quilting and my friend Charlotte Fuelling, from my church’s Ladies Aid, taught me how to mark and lay out the squares evenly.
My grandmother passed away at the age of 87 in June 1986. This quilt was her pattern and it was just simply called “Butterflies.” Since she had created the templates, I imagine she made a quilt from them too, but I don’t recall ever seeing it. Most likely she gave is as a gift to a relative or friend. I crafted mine for Ella’s great-great granddaughter, Briena Myers, my granddaughter who was born on Ella’s birthday August 6, 2002. Briena loves nature and animals so I thought this quilt pattern originally saved by her great-great grandmother was perfect for her as a remembrance to her and made with love from me her Grandmother Witte.”
Judy, what a treasure to have such a wonderful grandmother sharing her love of the needle arts with you. It is unfortunate that your fingers’ condition has deteriorated to the point where you are unable to hand quilt. It is such a blessing that Carole was willing to quilt your beautiful top and give the butterflies flight!
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