Stitches in time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2009

There’s no name for the group of quilters that gather every Monday at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.

In fact, the ladies have never even thought about a name for themselves. But if they did have a name it might be something like “Fast Fingers, Loose Lips” and that would be rather descriptive of the group.

How their fingers fly and there’s a whole lot more talking going on than there is listening.

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“We do like to talk,” said Mabel Horn. “We like to quilt and we like to talk and we can do both at the same time. And, if we don’t know the truth, we’ll make up a fib and tell it.”

The ladies laughed and shook their head. “Mabel’s a real character.”

To a one, the quilters are dedicated to the work of the Lord and their faith is unwavering. So once a week, they turn their hands to work for the Glory of God. They begin the quilting bee with devotion to make sure the day starts right.

A couple of the ladies take their places on the perimeter of the quilting frame. Judy Windham and Jerry Mallett are experts at embroidery and get started with their needlework as the other ladies take their places around the quilting frame. The work is the same, no matter which side of the frame they choose.

The ladies’ quilting skills are evident in the work they do – tiny, uniform stitches and the ease with which they are made.

The piece top design they were quilting Monday was Grandma’s Flower Garden and the pattern required many more stitches than most other quilts.

“But when we get through, it will be a really nice quilt,” said Mary Mitchell. “You won’t find many quilts with as many stitches as this one requires.”

The four other heads around the frame nodded in agreement.

The Mt. Moriah Monday Quilters are old hands at practicing their art and the fun work they do has a dual purpose.

“We all enjoy quilting. It’s relaxing and we enjoy the fellowship of one another,” Mitchell said. “But we also quilt to earn money for projects here at the church. The fellowship hall has recently been completed and we contributed to that by doing quilting for others.”

The quilters don’t do quilt tops they just quilt them.

“We’ve quilted for people from many different places and even outside the state,” Teanie Walker said. “We’ll quilt for anybody.”

The ladies think their fees are more than reasonable, given the time and work involved in doing a quilt.

For a twin quilt, they get $100, a full size quilt is $125, a queen is $150 and a king is $175. There is a fee of $20-$25 for hemming the quilt.

The ladies admitted that they could charge a little more but they don’t think that would be fair, given the fun they have around the frame.

“When I get a needle in my hand, that’s all I need,” Horn said. “I’d rather quilt than eat. We don’t stop quilting unless we break out singing. We’d go on to Nashville except we don’t have time to travel.”

The ladies laughed at the thought of them on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. They all realize that their talents are best spent right there at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.

The money they raise quilting and with other projects, such as the upcoming Christmas Bazaar and their two cookbooks helps make improvements in the church building and in the programs offered to the members and friends of the church.

The fellowship hall is a great addition to the church and it was a much needed one.

“We can have all kinds of activities there,” Windham said. “It has Sunday school rooms and a nice kitchen and dining area. We’re really putting it to good use.”

The sanctuary has also received a facelift and the baby grand piano makes heavenly music at the hands of a talented pianist.

“The money we made from the sale of our cookbook, from our quilts and from donations made it possible for us to pay for the piano in 90 days,” Windham said. “Our first cookbook, ‘Taste of Heaven’ was published in 2004 and our second one, ‘Heavenly Delight’ in 2008. The cookbooks are very popular. We’ve sold cookbooks to people in California, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Florida and, of course all around Alabama.”

Why people from other places want a cookbook filled with recipes from South Alabama is no mystery to the quilting ladies.

Most of them have lived other places and know that there is something special about Alabama.

The recipes are all tried and true favorites of the membership of Mt. Moriah and they are foods that people anywhere can cook and enjoy. There’s no 100 percent guarantee that many of the recipes will become family favorites of those who buy the cookbooks but a 99.44 percent guarantee would not be unrealistic.

“Several, actually most of us, have lived away and we’ve come back home because we love home and we love our church,” Mitchell said. “I’ve lived in California and, as great a place as it is, I’m glad to be home.”

Heads all around the quilting frame nodded in agreement.

“I’m glad to be home from Oklahoma,” Walker said.

“And, oh, me from Florida,” Ellene Keller said. “I love this place and l love being with these ladies on Mondays. I look forward to it all week long.”

“I’d sure rather be here than in Texas. If I go anywhere else, it will be to Nashville,” Horn said, laughing.

She and Keller broke into song “or something.”

“Don’t think we’ve got to worry about them leaving,” the ladies said laughing and covering their ears.

Mallett has been away for a while visiting her daughter in Atlanta and Martha and Judy Windham are from Troy but now have deep roots in the Mt. Moriah community.

There’s a sense of strong friendship among the ladies. After all, many of them share a past. And that past includes doing just what they are doing now, working on projects to raise money for the church and its programs.

“Remember back when we were in high school and Cliff Mathews was the preacher,” Horn said. “He planted a cotton patch and we had to pick cotton to raise money for the church.”

“We had a garden, too,” Mitchell said.

“And, remember when he baptized us in that old snake-infested cement baptismal pool down there in the woods,” Horn said.

“It wasn’t cement. It had wood sides and they had killed snakes in there right before we got baptized,” Walker said. “I think the pool’s still there.”

“Sure nuff?” the others asked.

They all laughed and the talking began to gush like a “busted” water hydrant.

“We don’t want to be perceived as a begging church,” Mitchell said. “We want to give something in return and that’s why we quilt and why we publish cookbooks and have Christmas bazaars. And, it’s not just those of us who are here today. Gerri Lowery, Sarah Branson, Barbara Harris, Margaret McQuagge, Mary Grissett, Carolyn Linzey, Mildred Linzey, Carla Johnson, Joanne Moser and Mamie Carswell are all part of our group. We’re all in this together.”

“But not all of us are going to Nashville…”

From behind the closed door the laughter of friends who love the Lord and want to serve Him could be heard loud and clear.