HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Dec. 5, 2005

Quilting creates opportunities for exploration

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

There are no limits to the techniques available to quilters, said Kathy Reinke of Dassel.

“It’s a wide open field,” she said. That’s why Reinke enjoys quilting as much as she does. The opportunities for exploration are endless, she said.

Reinke took up quilting as a hobby about six years ago. “I just needed a hobby that I could do for myself,” she said.

Reinke likes piecing the best. “It’s peaceful and you’re in your own environment,” she said.

Most of the large bed-sized quilts’ final stages are put together by others because Reinke’s home, northwest of Dassel, is too small for a quilting frame.

Piecing together the blocks, strips, and small parts are a stress reliever for her, though, she said. “It’s something else to think about.”

Reinke’s mother, who still lives on the family farm in the Eden Valley-Watkins area, introduced her to quilting when she was a little girl. Reinke traced around cardboard squares on fabric scraps to make the pieces her mother sewed together, Reinke said.

Reinke works full-time at Peter’s on Lake Ripley in Litchfield. She and her husband, Richard, who is a welding supervisor at Custom Products, have six children. When the children were older, Reinke took a community education class to learn quilting basics, she said.

Her first project was a quilted wall hanging in the log cabin pattern. It’s a fairly simple one, often used by beginners as a starting point, Reinke said.

Each block has a square in the center. Strips of fabric are sewn around the square until it forms a full-size block, 12 1/2 inches square, she said.

Reinke also made a queen-size bed quilt in the same pattern.

What really got Reinke hooked on quilting, though, was when she joined the block-of-the-month group at Grubers of St. Cloud. They met a couple of hours on Saturday mornings, which fit into Reinke’s busy schedule perfectly, she said.

Each block was made with a different technique. Reinke became adept at using the Tri-Recs Ruler, a triangular tool that allows the quilter to make pieces of different angles fit together, she said.

“Just piece accurately and have patience with myself,” Reinke said she learned from the block-of-the-month group. “I’m an impatient person,” she joked.

“Take time. You just have to work it through,” Reinke said.

The first quilt she completed from the St. Cloud group is her all-time favorite. It features both pastels and vibrant colors and each block is different, Reinke said.

The pattern is unique too. “It was geometric shapes from the St. Cloud area,” Reinke said. The design was developed as an exercise in “seeing” potential design elements in the quilter’s surroundings. The St. Cloud Area Courthouse was a square, for example, or a pattern from a wall at St. Cloud State was included, Reinke said.

“That was the one I displayed at the Meeker County Fair,” she said.

Reinke’s large quilts are quilted by hand by a mission group at St. Philip’s Church in Litchfield. They have the space for a quilting frame. Otherwise, Reinke would need to get a sewing machine with a long arm.

“I enjoy the piecing part. It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle. It gets kind of addicting after a while,” Reinke said.

Later, Reinke joined another block-a-month group, this time at the Piece Makers Quilt Shoppe of Howard Lake. She now does two blocks a month.

Reinke likes variety so she doesn’t only do bed quilts. She does table toppers and once, a quilted ragtime-style jacket.

Reinke usually follows these steps when quilting: First she picks a pattern. Then she cuts out squares and triangles from 100 percent cotton on a mat using a rotary cutter. It’s similar to a pizza cutter except extremely accurate.

Next, she sews the pieces in rows with a sewing machine. Then she cuts open the seams so they can be pressed flat. “Pressing is just as important as sewing,” Reinke said.

After that she joins the individual pieces matching all points at intersections. Her sewing machine has a quilter’s foot to feed the fabric through it evenly, she said.

Then she joins all the blocks in whatever design she has planned. Because she makes her blocks over a long period of time, Reinke doesn’t design her quilt until all the blocks are finished. Many quilters design their work before they start, she said.

Next, Reinke puts sashing between the rows. “It’s kind of like framing around the blocks,” she said.

Finally, she puts the border on the quilt.

The mission group joins the quilt and the backing with batting sandwiched in between. Reinke then binds the raw edges.

Reinke said she saw in a magazine once that a woman had made a quilt from her husband’s ties. Reinke was amazed that the quilter could handle those fabrics. First, the cloth in a tie is cut on a bias. Second, whenever fabric is used that stretches, it needs to be stabilized. That’s why Reinke prefers cotton, she said.

Reinke recommends that beginners take a class on quilting or work with another quilter. Accuracy in cutting is very important. She advises quilters to get a rotary cutter and a Tri-Recs Ruler. Reinke also said beginners should remember to always keep a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

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