Canyon Lake Resident Wins Top Quilting Prize
Kay Hoffman was active in New Braunfels Quilt Guild. After she died in 2007, her husband didn’t know what to do with some of the blocks of an unfinished quilt and asked the Quilt Bee to help find a place for it, along with other unfinished items.
Canyon Lake’s Loretta Shultz, an avid quilter, decided to rescue it.
“This was one that nobody wanted,” she said in a recent interview about her Heritage Quilt, which won a first-place ribbon at Quilt Fest 2018 at New Braunfels Civic & Convention Center in July. “It sat in my closet for several years and finally I decided that I needed to get it out and work on it.”
Picking up loose threads isn’t unusual for the retired school teacher and part-time volunteer at Canyon Lake’s Tye Preston Memorial Library. Shultz said quilts are labors of leftover love from the past, voices waiting to be heard.
Hoffman’s quilt was no different, although she said it spoke to her in a different way.
Its center was meant to be appliqued, but Shultz hand-embroidered it instead, filling the pattern solidly with a short and long embroidery stitch. Blocks around the edges were finished by machine, then hand-quilted.
This award-winning piece took two years to complete, but four of her favorite theme quilts — adorned with Christian, Texas, Kansas and school motifs — took four years each to finish.
Schulz was not amused by an enthusiast who spotted one of these first-prize winning quilts hanging at another quilt show. The fan noted the stitches were so perfect they had to be machine-sewn. One woman even asked what “program” was used to make the symbols.
“I looked at her kind of funny and said, ‘What do you mean?’ Then she explained what computer program? I said, “This quilt has never seen a computer.” I told her I used a straight needle, two strands of DMC embroidery thread and a thimble which she found hard to believe.”
Shultz learned to sew from her mother, who sewed for other people. But it was her grandmother who taught her to quilt, and Shultz began stitching nine-patches blocks as a child.
“I didn’t match my blocks together very well,” she said. “I just put any block together with any block. When I took it to my grandmother to finish she said, ‘that is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.'”
Undaunted, Schulz began working on a Broken Star Quilt while teaching business after graduating from college. The pattern called for a star in the middle with diamond shapes stretched all the way to its edges. This time, she carefully matched pieces. Her grandmother thought it was beautiful and hand-quilted it.
Quilting soon became a stress-reliever for Schulz, otherwise occupied by days of motherhood and years as the wife of a Methodist minister. She also taught elementary school for 27 years.
But old, discarded quilts from the past continued to whisper to her. She now repairs and quilts numerous unfinished tops from various friends and family, including one from a piece discovered by an aunt in a shed, with rat holes in it.
“Just appliqueing pieces on top makes it look great now,” she said.
“I have a real appreciation for old quilts,” she said. “My mother and dad were married in 1934 and they lived in a little bitty, teeny tiny town in Kansas called Sawyer. The community made afriendship quilt for their wedding present. There are signatures on that quilt by aunts, my mother and grandmother. I inherited it when my folks were gone, and I deeply, deeply appreciate it because I know the love that has gone into it.”
At the present time, Shultz makes items from denim such as tote bags, couch covers, and hot pads for friends and family.
She and other area quilters meet 2 to 4 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Tye Preston Memorial Library in Canyon Lake.
The New Braunfels Quilt Guild meets at 9:30 a.m.the third Saturday of the month at New Braunfels Presbyterian Church.