Piecemakers quilting group calls it quits
Patty Moon and Carolyn Salasek are the only two living members of the Piecemakers left.
The former is a southern California transplant who still can’t believe she ever got talked into joining a quilting club in the middle of Iowa, while the latter is a lifelong local resident who couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else.
After over 25 years — first operating out of the home of Gerri Jensen and then the Hope United Methodist Church in Marshalltown — the group of dedicated Methodist women that once boasted as many as 15 members has officially folded.
Although it’s difficult for Moon and Salasek to imagine a Wednesday that won’t include three hours dedicated specifically to quilting, the memories will stay with them for as long as they live.
“One of the most important things with the quilting group was the social aspect of it, and you could always count on (that) we would meet at 1:30. And tea time was always at three,” Moon said. “So, you had to stop whatever you were doing, and we would have our tea and have different snacks brought. It was quite the social hour talking about what had happened either within our families or with friends.”
The quilts that the Piecemakers created were always for a good cause, whether that meant babies, veterans, UnityPoint Auxiliary, families in countries like the Central African Republic or just an auction that would benefit the church’s mission efforts. Members celebrated each other’s birthdays and holidays, and they traveled to quilt shows together. They always insisted on the lost art of hand quilting, which often meant that projects would take longer, but they could look proudly upon the finished product.
Salasek, a retired home economics teacher who will celebrate her 90th birthday in February, was a charter member, and Moon joined when she and her husband relocated from California in 2005. When the only other remaining member, Sarah Schwab, passed away on Sept. 1, both Moon and Salasek reached the conclusion that it no longer made sense to go on.
“It was becoming a difficult problem for me anymore, the lifting and all the work that goes with it,” Salasek said.
Moon still laughs about the long, strange trip that led her from the sandy beaches of Orange County to the heart of her husband’s native Iowa, especially considering what a teacher said to her when she was young.
“I was told in eighth grade that I was the worst example of a seamstress, so I never did any (sewing),” she said. “The odds of (coming to Iowa and joining this club) would’ve been as bad if not worse than winning the lotto, (but) I had excellent teachers.”
And even Salasek, who had personal and professional experience with quilting, learned even more through her involvement in the club.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, and I’m really going to miss it,” she said.
Social clubs, particularly those with older memberships, have been an unfortunate casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Piecemakers went on hiatus for six to eight months before returning with masks.
Looking forward, both Moon and Salasek will continue to stay involved with the United Methodist Women (UMW) and work with the once-monthly tie quilting club at the Central Christian Church downtown, but they know their lives will feel a little different without the Piecemakers.
“But you know, we have lifelong memories that we’ll never forget,” Moon said. “(Carolyn) and I are the duo that get into trouble together, so if somebody’s doing something, we’ll help them.”
Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.