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We have a celebrity in our midst.
Well, at least in the quilting world.
Squires resident Marla Yeager recently had one of her quilts, called “Borealis,” featured on the cover of American Quilter Magazine.
The path to the magazine cover was interesting, and started with an entirely different quilt.
Yeager’s quilt “Buckskin” won the Bernina Machine Workmanship Award at the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show & Contest in 2007.
“As a result of that, I was asked to write an article for the magazine (American Quilter),” Yeager said.
She sent in a quilt sample for the article, which turned into a pattern published in the magazine, complete with a cover photo.
Yeager creates her own quilting patterns, starting out with a draft on graph paper.
“I don’t write out my patterns like they do in the magazine,” she said. “I’m more of a visual person.”
When she sent the draft into American Quilter, she included directions and the magazine’s editing department turned it into a written pattern.
Since AQ is only published six times per year, it’s a big honor to have a local quilt featured in the magazine.
Yeager said that her husband, Joe, names all of her quilts.
“When I was working on ‘Buckskin,’ he said that it looked like an old Indian blanket,” she said. “That’s how it was named.”
Yeager’s love of quilting began out of a need for an activity that could be done in solitude.
Joe was an officer on a railroad when the couple married, so they moved often and usually to rural areas.
Joe bought Marla a new sewing machine for their first Christmas as a married couple.
She wasn’t sure what to make first with the new machine, and Joe suggested that she make a quilt for him.
“It was atrocious,” Yeager said with a smile. “It was a log cabin quilt, navy blue, muslin and mint green.”
Marla’s skills have obviously grown since that first quilt, which the couple still has.
She has now made over 100 quilts.
“I just kept learning, and as we moved I was able to take classes,” she said.
Yeager said that quilting gave her a source of peace and belonging.
“Joe had people he knew from the railroad every time we moved, and the kids made friends at school,” she said. “I was more isolated.”
Quilting was a good choice for a hobby, because it could be picked up and moved whenever the family was transferred.
“Gardening would have been a poor choice,” Yeager said.
She said that quilting is a good hobby because you can get as deeply involved in it as you want.
“We made a lot of our own clothes when I was growing up, so it was a natural fit for me,” she said.
Yeager never planned to make competitive quilts, but a friend of hers often urged her to submit her quilts to contests.
“I didn’t think they were good enough, but I finally submitted one to hush her up,” Yeager said with a smile.
That quilt won an honorable mention at Paducah, a first place at the IQA show in Houston and was the starting point to where Yeager is today.
She said that she doesn’t enter contests primarily for the awards, but to receive feedback on her work.
“The only way to know if you’ve made a good quilt is to get the judges’ comments back,” she said. “It’s an educational process for me.”
However, she doesn’t mind getting recognition, as well.
“It’s always a treat to get a ribbon,” Yeager said.
Since the couple has retired to Squires, Yeager said that she doesn’t have as much time to quilt as she used to.
“I want to quilt more than I’m able to,” she said.
She said that she usually quilts about eight hours per week now, while when Joe was working she would sometimes quilt up to eight hours per day.
Yeager said that she typically completes one quilt each year, and tries to have three quilts in progress at a time.
“I like to have one in the drafting process, one in the piecing process and one that I’m quilting,” she said.
She said that the drafting process is time-consuming, and picking out the colors can be difficult, as well.
“Color is a very big deal,” Yeager said. “You can have a technically sound quilt, but if the colors aren’t good it won’t get noticed.”
Yeager said that she attends the annual quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky, which is one of the largest in the country, along with several other shows.
She has also taught quilt design classes annually in Wisconsin.
Yeager enjoys helping her childhood friend, Connie Sherrill, at Dogwood Quilting.
“I want to do more to help local quilters,” she said.
Sherrill offers beginning and intermediate quilting at the store, and there are several people enrolled in the classes.
“There are some wonderful quilts being made here,” Yeager said. “They can rival quilts made by people with 10 or 12 years experience.”
The “Borealis” quilt is on display at Dogwood Quilting, and the American Quilter magazine is available for purchase there, as well.
Reflections is a weekly column exploring the history of Douglas County. This summer, we will be exploring local wedding destinations, fireworks celebrations and day trips. If you have an idea for an article, please call 417-683-4181 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org