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Quilters on a mission

By Staff | May 2, 2014

Mission quilters include, front row, left to right: Mary Ellen Sicard, Ethel Pohlen, Elaine Carlin, Dolores Inman, Joyce Thornburg and Lucy Renze. Back row: Pat Metzger, Diane Elling, Bernice Bendixen, Betty Reardon, Joan Nims, Pat Carr, Becky Peters, Hazel Wilson, Janet Lammers and Madonna Johnson. Photo by Michael Tidemann

So who on earth would spend thousands of hours making thousands of quilts for total strangers?

Why, The St. Patrick’s Mission Quilters, of course.

Every Monday afternoon from 1-2:30 or 3 p.m. in the Duhigg Center The St. Patrick’s Mission Quilters practice their craft.

Starting in 1996, over the past 18 years the Mission Quilters have made and given away 4,454 quilts to people in Estherville; Mankato, Minn; and St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minn.

The quilters rely on the community for material, sheets, blankets, bedspreads, mattress pads, sewing machines, yarn, thread and donations. Without those generations, the quilts could not have been made.

At the group’s inception, Irene Pluth hoped to make mission quilts as a group project. Three sewing machines were donated as soon as the quilters were on a roll.

The quilts are usually made with a sheet on the backside (larger than the top and middle), a mattress pad, curtain, or some other material in the middle, and the top piece is yardgoods sewn together (some in beautiful patterns). Most of the machine sewing is done at home. To complete the quilt, the backside is flipped over the front and pinned together, to be sewn after it is hand-stitched with yarn and tied.

From 1996 through 1998, the Mission Quilters made and gave away 265 quilts, most to the Listening House in St. Paul, the Community Christmas Project in Estherville, Upper Des Moines of Estherville and the Forest Ridge girls.

By April 23, 2000, the group had made and given away 590 quilts and by March 2006 the number reached 2,000. At the end of December 2013 the number of quilts rose to 4,419, going mainly to Estherville, Mankato and St. Paul.

Quilts have gone to the Community Christmas Project, Upper Des Moines and Forest Ridge as well as to the School of Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato where they’re distributed to the homeless and others in need.

Many people have been involved in getting the quilts to the Provincial House in Mankato. Once as a group Mission Quilter members delivered quilts to St. Paul Listening House, and over time there will be more 2quilts to deliver.