QUILT CORNER: Labor of Love 
By the Quilt Lady: Billie Ruth Standbridge | Lone Star Heritage Quilt Guild 

August 13, 2006 - What is more special than recognizing a couple who has shared 50 loving years, and the recognition comes as a complete surprise? Usually sons and daughters plan a 50th anniversary celebration, but Carroll and Deanna Hasten kept saying “No, no, we don’t want a party.” So, did their party happen in an ordinary way? No way. Unbeknownst to them, a special celebration was being planned by the family of Carroll’s longtime business partner, Bob Flecker and employees, who are almost all family. The Hasten family had already blended with the Flecker family when Mike Hasten married Bob Flecker’s daughter, Ro. When you have this kind of extended family, and a mother/mother-in-law, who is personified by her love of quilting, what do you do? You make a quilt to honor the momentous event.  

If any of you men out there are reading this article, you’re probably thinking, “Great for the little lady, but what about her husband? What does he think about getting a quilt for a 50th anniversary gift?” Well, you need to know something about this wonderfully generous, supportive man. He made the first quilt stands that our guild ever had so that we could have our own for our annual quilt shows. He’s an honorary member of the Lone Star Heritage Quilt Guild, and he’s right out front when the guild has their quilt auction. But, above all that, he and the whole extended Hasten/Flecker family, erect all of the quilt stands for our shows, accommodating well over a hundred quilts. Carroll has always supported his creative lady in all of her endeavors. So, it’s my guess that their getting a quilt on this special occasion, made by family, would be quite natural to him. 

So, the way a thought was translated to action, Bob Flecker’s daughter, Renee’ Whillock, approached Ro, the Hasten’s daughter-in-law, about the idea of a quilt, and from there it was a matter of putting thought into action. Easier said than done. Other members of the extended work family wanted to help, too. Most had regular work hours to cover, all had families, and many had little ones to take care of.  And, in Ro’s case, one on the way. In spite of all the reasons that this would seem like an impossible project, they ran with it. I’ll bet it’s a mystery to even them how they managed to find the kind of time that it takes to put a quilt together. We quilters know what kind of time and concentration that takes, and most of us don’t have little ones running around.

This brave task started back in February of 2006. They found a pattern called “Sweethearts,” which they renamed “50 Hearts for 50 Years.” You might suspect this is going to be one big sized quilt. From the day that they went to look for fabric, this became a juggling act among all of them to trade off cutting, sewing, ironing and supervising and feeding children. The focus was 50 pieced red hearts in a field of gold. This took thousands of squares and half triangles.

During the following months, every free moment, collectively or individually, all of them worked toward finishing a July deadline. A small break took place while daughter-in-law Ro had her baby. Only a few days later they were back on the job. New grandson, Cage, was placed on a pad in the middle of the table with the sewing machines whirring. Can you imagine how soothing that must have been? I was most impressed with the allocation of work assignments. All could never solely focus on the quilt. Somebody was always supervising, changing or feeding little ones. Only occasional vacations slowed the progress. By the time they finished, it was bigger than a king-size. 

To this point, I’ve told you only how the top looks. They wanted to make the back special, too. They decided that the back fabric should represent some of what Carroll and Deanna had been interested in over their 50 years. There was bird fabric representing their love of watching the birds coming to eat at their feeders. The golf fabric, of course, representing Carroll’s love of the “Grand Old Game,” and then there’s Deanna’s Red Hat lady fabric. They couldn’t overlook bluebonnets and the Texas flag representing the state. They finalized with “I Love You” fabric. 

They met their target date of July to get the quilt to Doris Roberts for quilting, alerting her that this was to be a surprise. It was a good thing, because the following day, Deanna brought over a quilt of her own to get quilted. Doris bound and put beautiful quilting all over this giant quilt 

Afterwards, other family members helped with the beautifully computerized design of the label. 

The day before the anniversary date, Deanna was taking Darlene, Bob Flecker’s wife, out to lunch for her birthday. Afterwards they were to go by the company office, which wasn’t anything unusual. She walked in, and the whole blended family was there, with all the party works and culminating, of course, in the presentation of a huge box containing the quilt. But that wasn’t all. To accompany the quilt was a scrapbook made up of the entire story of how all of this went together and pictures of every step of the way, including little Cage lying in the middle of the work table. What a labor of love!

Our next guild meeting on the 28th of August is a very important meeting. All work assignments for the Fall Festival Quilt Show must be finalized, making attendance extremely important. We have set quite a reputation for ourselves, so let’s not let our guild or the public down. If you have any questions about the meeting or the entry forms, call Billie Ruth at 903-439-0862.

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