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Reunited! ~ Around The Frame

Sometimes as a business owner, I need to go the extra mile for my customers. Sometimes it’s a small gesture like adding an extra piece of fabric to an order or tracking down a special craft kit that was near and dear to someone’s heart.

Last April, Kathie Kalin, along with her sisters, dropped off a child’s crib size quilt sorely in need of restoration. Kathie had made a colorful quilt with bright orange and circus train fabric for her grandson Otto when he was just a baby. A few months later it was ruined when Stout the family dachshund chewed several holes through all three layers of it in various spots throughout the quilt. Now this isn’t the first time a dachshund was culpable for such damage on a quilt, but it was certainly more challenging. The good news was that Kathie still had fabric left over from the project. Since the quilt was designed as rectangle forms and was so busy, we were able to match in replacement fabric on the front, large pieces of original solid orange on the back.

Kristin Sims holds the quilt her mother Kathie Kalin made for her son Otto when he was an infant.

Once all the pieces were hand blind appliqued into place, it was time to get it to Paula Reuille to machine quilt the restored areas. Paula has been machine quilting for decades and is well known for her work. She informed us that it would “be awhile” when it was dropped off in mid-August and we sent Kathie an update who was just happy that the work would be completed at some point. Come October, Paula informed us she still had 15 more quilt tops to quilt before she can get to it.

We again texted Kathie an update. On December 1, Paula lets us know it’s ready for pickup. Back at BAQ, we called Kathie to let her know she can pick it up. No response. We texted her…. No response. We figured the holiday season was in full swing, and perhaps she’s traveling or just busy with the holiday hubbub. After the first of the new year, we attempted again to reach her knowing how anxious she was to see the restored quilt. I decided to go online to see if I could find another phone number for her and what I found was her obituary. Kathleen “Kathie” Kalin had passed away on Oct. 12. at the age of 63.

We were shocked and saddened to read her obituary and learned more about this wonderful woman. Our thoughts turned to how can we get this quilt back to her family. Her husband predeceased her, we tried looking up her two daughters through the online white pages and either there were no phone numbers, or they weren’t current. Now it was time to go full Nancy Drew: I contacted Greenlawn Funeral Home and asked if they could get a message to the relative in charge of her funeral arrangements to contact me. The response was “We don’t have any record of Kathleen Kalin being here last October.” I insisted that there is a full blown online obituary naming Greenlawn as the funeral home in charge. I mentioned there was a Celebration of Life held at her home that she was most likely cremated, and the funeral home’s involvement would have been minimal. He once again excused himself and returned to let me know that he’d have someone else get back to me. I never received a call back. Next Up… I checked the property taxes through the Allen County Treasurer’s Office to see if the home had been sold that a realtor would have a family contact: it was still in her name. We searched Facebook for the daughters, we Googled them to see if they might show up in reference to a job or an organization that we could contact them: no luck.

Next plan was to write an article about Kathie’s quilt for the Waynedale News. Since she lived southwest, maybe a neighbor or friend would read it and get back to us. With that in mind I started the brain cells churning on the article last Sunday (Jan. 21.) while I was working on another restoration project and half watching the football games. My phone rang and I noticed it was an out-of-town number so my first thought what Medicare supplement company is calling now? I answered the phone and the woman on the other end stated that she thought her mother had left a quilt at my shop to be repaired for her son. Oh my! I was talking to Kathie’s daughter Kristin Sims! I told her how happy I was to hear from her and what lengths we had gone through wanting to reunite her son with his quilt as soon as possible, how we had talked or gotten nice texts from her mother and couldn’t imagine why she wasn’t responding to learn of her death. Kristin related to me how she was over at an aunt’s home going through her quilts and it suddenly it dawned on her, that her mother had left the child quilt with us, so she called. On Monday, Priscilla and I were both at BAQ to reunite her with this quilt. We asked her if she could tell where we had restored it and she said “no,” Talking to Kristin at the shop is when we found out how Stout ruined it when Otto was just a few months old! Obviously, he has no recollection of it, but will hopefully cherish it as it was his grandmother’s wish for it to be restored and given back to him. When he touches it, he will know the love of his grandmother who died much too early.

Attention Recyclers: If you eat cereal and are unable to recycle the wax paper inner lining bags, please save them for me! They are perfect for shipping patterns and fabrics all over the world. I’m in the shop on Saturdays 10-5. If you don’t have many, you may be able to slide them through my mail slot: One less item in the landfill!

Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts. If you have a textile that you’d like me to feature, contact me at 260-515-9446 or bornagainquilts@frontier.com.

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Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer