The World in a Box

MIDLOTHIAN, TX — The box from the post office carried great promise. Eagerly, Patty Ozga, her sister, Carol Adams, and the ladies of the Creative Quilters Guild of Ellis County opened their treasure box — and the world came to visit. They had the grand idea to collect squares from quilting clubs around the world and make a quilt. “When we got the mail, we didn’t just get a few letters. We got crates. When we would sit and open the mail, it was just like Christmas,” Patty smiled.

Patty, a maker and collector of quilts, was enthralled with the idea. A quilter since 1994, she has decorated her home with beautiful quilts she made herself. Becoming a member of a group of quilters that loved the craft as much as she did was a natural progression. The group patterns its activities around a specific theme every year. The club’s theme for the year 2010 was “Stitches Around the World.”

Carol is the person who came up with the idea of approaching other groups from around the globe to contribute a square that would be incorporated into one quilt. She got the ball rolling by trying to contact every quilting group she could find, and eventually, e-mailed 1,500 guilds in America and overseas. “I spent hours Googling quilting guilds,” she stated. “All we asked from them was one block. They were to take a square cloth, write their guild name and location on it and send it back to us. We were hoping to get enough squares to make a small quilt to hang on the wall,” Carol said.

The final tally of squares they received was enough to make three full quilts and a wall hanging! “It was phenomenal,” Patty stated. “We received blocks from Costa Rica, South Africa, Canada, Europe, Sweden, Zimbawe and most of the states.”

“We got real creative squares,” Carol said. Although the participants were told their cloth square could be embroidered, appliquéd or handwritten, only a few of the ones they received were handwritten. The majority were gaily decorated with creative depictions of the region that sent the square or something personal about the group that sent it. After the Ellis County quilters received the squares, they began to organize them for the completion of a quilt. Irene Nichols, another member of the group, quilted all three quilts. To highlight each square, each one was framed by material.

Since the quilts were completed, the group has proudly had them on display at the Meadows Library in Midlothian, the Dallas Quilt Show and the Corsicana Quilt Show. “At the quilt shows, our quilts go in as special exhibits and are not judged,” Patty stated. “The Ellis County Quilt show has an annual show at Midlothian Conference Center with about 125 quilts for judging. When these were hung for special exhibit, the people were amazed and pleased.”

It takes time to view the quilts because each square has its own individual uniqueness about it. “Every square has its own little story,” stated Carol. One of her squares is a needle and thread encircling a globe of the world symbolizing their theme, “Stitches Around the World.”

She pointed out one of the squares that typifies what a small world this is. “A lady who grew up in Ellis County and now lives on the East Coast, went to one of the quilting shows and signed her squares. It just brings everything together where you randomly send out an e-mail and get a response — it’s a small world.”

Patty shares another story that demonstrates this. “I took some quilting classes from a lady in Lancaster. The lessons stopped when a tornado took out her shop. We have a square that was sent from Japan. The daughter of the lady who owned the shop in Lancaster, moved to Japan. She sent this square in to represent that country.”

Interesting tidbits about the region accompanied many of the squares. From South Africa, the note read, “This comes from the middle of South Africa with love. … I embroidered a few roses as our main city is Bloemfontein, and it is known as the city of roses here.” Information about particular states here in America flowed in also. The quilter from Brooksville, Kentucky, had a depiction of a ferry and a bridge. She wrote, “The Augusta Ferry is one of the longest continuous running ferries that crosses the Ohio River. The Walcott Bridge is the last covered bridge in Bracken County.”

Some men love quilting, too! One from Las Vegas offered to show fellow quilters the city when he sent his square in. It was a colorful collection of replicas of neon signs that are a trademark of Las Vegas. In New Jersey, there is only one quilting chapter, but they were included on the quilt. She explained her square, “Our block represents the beach, ocean and even a Cape May diamond.”

The square that arrived from London came with an invitation to show the quilt at the Canadian Quilter’s Association show. Their square depicts their guild logo and colors. Also, they made it “Texas size” with the offer to feel free to trim, if necessary.

In addition to each square being unique with its own story, each one has its own style of stitching with different types of embroidery and hand appliqué. “The quilting scene from Taylor, Texas, Blackland Quilt Guild, was hand-drawn,” noted Patty. “From Germany, the horse on the square is put together with paper piecing (a quilt-making technique).”

The three quilts that Patty, Carol, Irene and other members of the guild put together are now momentous treasures for the group. “Carol and I both have squares in all three quilts,” Patty noted. “Other quilting groups that participated in the making of the quilts now want to do the same thing for their groups.” The Quilting Council from the state of Colorado was celebrating their 25th birthday, and the square they sent to the Ellis County group commemorated their anniversary.

Each quilt will be under the care and protection of a member of the Creative Quilters Guild. Patty, Carol and another member, Peggy Terril, each have one quilt. After a period of time, the quilts will be given to each lady to keep. The finished products will forever symbolize the time the group invited the world to share their love of quilting.

Written by Betty Tryon.