Elva Rinehart, Monroe, spends her free time sewing and making quilts. Rinehart has been quilting since
she was 14, and has made about 300 quilts, mostly for family and friends.
Times photo: Brenda Steurer
Made by hand
Monroe grandmother creates quilts from the heart
Published Monday, November 15, 2004 1:35:24 PM Central Time
Reprinted with permission from Brian Gray.
By Brian Gray of the Times
MONROE -- There is more than fabric and thread in the quilts made by Elva Rinehart
during the past 79 years. There is also a love for creating and attention to detail.
Elva has been making quilts since she was 14 years old. Today the 93-year-old mother
of two and grandmother of four estimates she has made more than 300 quilts since her mother first taught her how to sew.
While some quilters use sewing machines to make the process of sewing a quilt a little
quicker and a little easier, Elva still enjoys the old fashioned method of sewing each quilt by hand.
"I like to quilt by hand," she said, adding that it gives her more of an opportunity to make
sure everything is just as she wants it. It is also good therapy to keep her fingers limber and her mind active.
Although Elva loves to spend time sewing she said making quilts isn't for everyone. Some
people just don't have the patience for quilting, she said.
"It's a lost art. Younger people don't have the time or the patience to
sew quilts. They want something faster, something easier to do. They're all so busy now," she said.
Making a quilt takes her about four weeks. She gets the materials for the quilts from various
stores and also finds a pattern she wants to make. Some of the patterns are relatively simple, she
said, while others take a lot of work.
She's sold some of the quilts she's made but most of them have gone to family and friends.
"I think every baby that was born got a quilt," she said. She also made quilts for gifts at Christmas.
When Elva and her husband, Max, were married she would find time in the evenings, after chores on
the farm were done and the kids were in bed, to work on her quilts. She and her husband didn't go many
places and sewing was a good activity for the evenings.
"It's a very relaxing hobby," she said. "We were both too tired to go places at night. I would quilt
for two or three hours before going to bed."
Some of Elva's quilts can be found at her apartment. Various patterns with colors
of pink, blue, brown, yellow and many others all united together by thread and painstaking work.
Elva gets together with five or six other ladies each Wednesday at St. John's United Church of Christ to
spend a couple hours quilting.
"It's a time for quilting and visiting," Elva said. "There used to be 15 people but the number has dwindled
to five or six."
Still, she said, the quilting sessions give the women a chance to gather and talk about family and other interests.
It's a time for people who, like Elva, enjoy spending time, sewing and paying attention to details as they turn pieces
of fabric into works of art.
Brian Gray can be reached at
The Times Plus Monroe, WI
Printed November 15, 2004
Reprinted with permission
©2004 Brian Gray and The Monroe Times