HATTON, Mo. — Warm light and colorful quilts filled the basement of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church.
Members of the Country Friends Quilt Club gathered to share their latest projects, encouragement and some baked goods Wednesday evening.
"Before our first meeting, I said to my husband, 'I hope there's at least five — and there were 12," Michelle Blevins, co-founder of the club, said. "It's been growing ever since."
Just under two years since its inception, the club already has between 25-30 regular attendees for meetings at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday each month. Blevins said the group usually has someone present on a topic (Wednesday, it was making burp rags for babies), followed by show-and-tell time.
Each new quilt was greeted with ooh's and ahh's, along with questions. One member brought 11 of the 14 quilts she's making as Christmas gifts for family members. Another, Debra Salmons, brought a friendship quilt.
"We take turns drawing names at our meetings," Blevins said. "Whoever's drawn has a month to pick a pattern, and then (members) have a month to make blocks for it, though it's optional."
Salmons said about 13 members contributed blocks to the September quilt, which she completed.
Members also take turns bringing refreshments. This time, pumpkin bars and butter-pecan sheet cake were on offer.
Blevins founded the group with Brenda Dennis, who is also her business partner. The two run M&B Heart to Heart Quilting in Auxvasse.
"I started quilting back in 2002," Dennis said. "My son was graduating from high school the following year, and I knew I would need something to occupy my time. He did a lot of sports, and we wouldn't be bleacher parents anymore."
A member of her church in Hallsville offered to teach beginning quilters how to make a nine-patch quilt. Dennis, who had grown up sewing her own clothes, decided to give it a shot.
"From there I did a baby quilt, and then graduated to full-size," Dennis said.
She was hooked.
"It was an immediate passion," she said.
A couple of years later, Blevins asked her how to teach her how to quilt after Blevins's son requested a quilt as a present. The rest is history; in spring 2016, the pair took out a loan at Callaway Bank, bought a longarm quilting machine and opened M&B Heart to Heart.
Blevins is a Hatton native and goes to church at Pleasant Grove.
"We thought there might be an interest in quilting in this area," she said.
The club ended up tapping into a wealth of local quilting knowledge.
"We share a lot and get a lot of good ideas," member Margaret Fansler said.
Dennis said members have varying levels of experience.
"There's some with many years of experience and some just getting started," she said. "We have a lady who designs her own quilts, which are very artistic."
Blevins pointed out that most quilters quilt for others. This group is no exception. Together, they've made quilts to raffle for the Hatton Craft Day, Super Sam and Relay for Life. They just completed a quilt — decorated by children in vacation Bible school — to send to friends in Haiti. They're stockpiling quilts to give to fire survivors who've lost everything.
"Quilters are really good people," Fansler said.
For her show-and-tell, she brought lap quilts which she'll be bringing to nursing homes to keep residents warm.
The group welcomes new visitors; current members come from Hatton, Fulton, Mexico and Paris, among others.
To join Country Friends, just show up at one of their regular meetings, or join their upcoming sewing day at 9 a.m. Nov. 4 at the church.