Patty Newman Dikeman is obsessed. She can’t help herself. I caught up with her at Sew Blessed, a building on the Main Street of Lavaca, where women, like herself, meet and sew quilts and other projects. She sat at her sewing machine, surrounded by mountains of material, with her granddaughter organizing themed cloth at her feet.
Patty learned to quilt from her mother. Her mother was an avid quilter who used to quilt on the old frames that hung from the ceiling. The frame could be raised out of the way when the hand sewing was done for the day. Patty learned how to sew pieces together before her freshman year at Lavaca. It was her freshman year where she took Home Economics with Mrs. Beatrice Withers, who is still held in high esteem around here, especially with Patty. She began making her own clothes that year and would eventually make clothes for her own family.
Patty heard about the Quilt of Valor Foundation when they presented a quilt to local veteran Gene Clearwater. The QVF is a nationwide organization that pieces and sews quilts to present to our veterans. She saw them again at a quilt show in Greenwood and wanted to be a part of it. When she joined, her goal was to make one quilt to present. Patty has made 21 quilts for them this year, maybe more. “Quilting is like therapy to me. I can sit and sew on a pattern and I don’t have to think about it,” she said.
Fellow quilter Rita Helms said, “This woman is a machine! She works on quilts here and at home! She has a very understanding husband!” She has made five of the presentations.
The ladies at Sew Blessed rely on donations of material to scrap for the blocks. They make and sell quilted items to get the funds to buy quilt batting and needed supplies for the quilts. They will have items for sale on the sidewalk during the Lavaca Centennial on October 5.
Patty has lost count of how many quilts she has churned out over the years but there is a common thread in each one. They are all made with love.
If you’d like more information about the Quilts of Valor Foundation or know of someone who has served in the military and would like to have them honored, contact QVF at https://www.qovf.org/?fbclid=IwAR1gGJTJlh1QeslnhRorYzsbR7dIR1W_BBue0GAEExNr7W4_NZw4AuJLBvQ
(Thanks to Sylvia Heard Carey for the use of her photograph.)