EVANT — On a sunny Tuesday spring morning, downtown is a pretty quiet place. Students enjoy recess on the school’s playground, a few big rigs rumble by and the few businesses that remain open welcome customers.
In the fellowship hall at the First Baptist Church, a group of women are busily engaged with decorated yard goods, needles and thread as they collaborate on a labor-intensive task. It’s the twice-monthly get-together of the Evant Ladies Quilting Club.
“We had our first meeting in 2005,” said Ino Hall, the de facto leader of the gathering. “We started out with a pretty large group. Then one moved to Sun City, another out of state — one lady had to take her husband to the doctor today, so we’re a little sparse.”
The club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month “with a summer break,” Hall said. “We begin at 8 o’clock and bring a sack lunch and we finish up at about 2 p.m.”
Fabric for a nine-panel quilt was stretched across homemade stands “donated to us by a lady from Pearl” and Hall, joined by Donie Myers from Purmela and Leona Bolm, who lives on a ranch near Star, carefully placed colorful squares on the base material.
“This is Leona’s quilt,” Hall said. “We work two sessions on a given quilt, then switch. That way each member gets equal time on her individual quilt.”
Besides quilting for club members, the group has donated finished pieces to the Evant Methodist Church for a raffle-type fundraiser as well as other area churches and nonprofit organizations, including an all-pink version for cancer research contributions. With 60 to 80 combined hours per average quilt, the cliched phrase “a labor of love” takes on a new meaning.
In full, queen and king size, the quilts are whimsical pieces of folk art and a kaleidoscope of modern design elements, with painstaking handwork that recalls master artisans of a bygone era.
Hall estimates the club has produced “at least 75 finished quilts in nine years,” and proudly shows a remarkable album full of photographs, notes and specifics detailing the group’s quilts, one by one.
“We’ve done all kinds of designs,” Hall said. “There are lots of good ones online, members share designs, and we’ve made custom quilts, too. We’ve done six or seven blue jean quilts — men and boys really seem to like them. It takes six or seven pairs per quilt, and they even want pockets included.” The denim is usually from trousers “that they’ve actually worn,” rather than new fabric, Hall said with a smile.
The women work quietly, bent over their current project. The dwindling number of active members slows the club’s output, and Hall answers quickly when asked if there’s room for more. “Yes, we certainly would welcome other ladies interested in joining us.”
Besides the pleasure and reward of the completed quilts, the ladies unanimously agreed about the most important aspect of their Tuesdays together.
“It’s the fellowship,” Myers said, and Bolm nodded in agreement. “It’s just marvelous.”