HMBC quilters make top-dollar quilt at Kansas relief sale


A colorful quilt sewn by Hillsboro quilters raises $11,600 for MCC

By Connie Faber

Members of Hillsboro (Kan.) MB Church made the top-selling quilt, pictured above, at last month’s Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale. The hand-stitched quilt brought a record bid of $11,600 that earned a standing ovation from the auction crowd.

“That’s a lot of money for pieces of fabric,” says Charlene Driggers, with a smile in her voice. Driggers is a HMBC quilter and a member of the relief sale quilt committee.

While Driggers does not know what motivated the out-of-state buyers to purchase the quilt, she is thankful for their willingness to give generously to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), an inter-Mennonite agency supported by USMB congregations.

MCC is the beneficiary of 27 relief sales held annually in the United States and Canada. In 2012, North American relief sales raised over $5 million to help MCC respond to basic needs and work for peace and justice around the world.

HMBC has a long history of providing a quilt for the annual relief sale and the Hillsboro quilters have seen their handiwork sell for as much as $8,000.

Given the amount of close quilting and the time the women spent on their project this year, Driggers hoped the quilt would bring at least $10,000.

But it’s difficult to predict the success of an auction, says Driggers, because one never knows how buyers will respond. She and her husband as well as other HMBC quilters were among the crowd at the Saturday quilt sale.

Several from the HMBC group bid on the quilt, helping to drive the price up.

“You have to have some gumption to keep the bidding going,” says Driggers, adding that one never knows when the bidding will end.

When the final, record-breaking bid was made, Driggers says she almost cried. “It was an answer to prayer,” she says. Her prayers had begun months before the sale, as she began the careful process of marking the quilt.

Groups of three HMBC quilters take turns selecting the pattern for their sale quilt. This year Susan Hein, Marilyn Hiebert and Fran Rhodes headed up the project and were also on hand to see the quilt sell.

Hein selected the pattern, “Flowers for my Wedding Ring,” designed by Judy and Bradley Niemeyer and sold by Keepsake Quilting, a quilting catalog company and retail shop located in Center Harbor, N.H.

“Double Wedding Ring” is an old pattern, says Driggers, that the Niemeyers updated with appliqued flowers along the top and bottom. The quilt kit came with “pages and pages” of instructions as well as the quilt’s bright batik fabric, says Driggers.

Hiebert and Rhodes did the applique work by hand. Driggers estimates that eight HMBC women hand-stitched the quilt, working one morning a week November through February, with afternoon sessions added as needed.

The HMBC quilt wasn’t the only thing that set a record at the 46th Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale, held April 11-12 at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Kan. This was the first time the Kansas sale topped $500,000.

The 2014 sale raised a total of $501,607, up from $476,000 the year before.

The 2014 quilt auction raised $142,290 and the general auction raised $74,649. Other leading sources of income included $37,687 from the Feeding of the Multitude verenike dinner, $22,430 at the Run for Relief, $21,513 from baked goods, $18,896 at Quilters Corner and $17,656 in Penny Power coins. Proceeds from the sale of a House Against Hunger are counted separately.

According to Mennonite Central Committee, the 2012 Abbotsford, B.C., sale holds the record at $734,289.



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