Last year, Patti Tappel and the other quilters at St. Margaret Church in Osage Bend created a handmade, patriotic quilt that fetched $5,000 at the church's summer picnic.
This year, they think they have another winner on their hands.
During the past year, the quilters have spent more than 3,000 hours planning, piecing and quilting 26 quilts that will be auctioned at the church's Aug. 5 picnic. The event will take place in the church's new parish hall, funded in part by past quilt auctions.
Tappel again created this year's signature quilt, another large patriotic quilt that, this time, took 2,700 pieces of fabric. It took a month to piece the quilt and 2 1/2 months to complete it, she said.
The "Land of the Free" quilt features images of the American Flag, Statue of Liberty, American Eagle and a map of the United States. It also features a handmade block representing each branch of the military.
Tappel said she didn't try to outdo herself this year, but she got the idea for the quilt after finding a Statue of Liberty pattern. That alone has 483 pieces of fabric.
After the church's annual summer picnic, the quilters start planning for the following year. Tuesdays are quilting days, and an average of 10 quilters meet 7 a.m.-noon to work on the quilts. Volunteers from the parish provide snacks to the quilters on a rotating schedule.
Other quilts created by the group for this year's picnic are also impressive. They include a certified Quilt of Valor and a St. Louis Cardinals quilt, which incorporates 20 St. Louis Cardinals T-shirts donated by community members.
Of the 26 quilts, 18 are full-sized quilts (made to fit full-sized beds or bigger) and six are baby quilts.
"It's all teamwork," Bernadine Klebba said.
Deacon Fred Schmitz said the quilters aren't limited to parishioners. "It's a
community affair," he said.
The community looks out for one another.
When parishioner Suzanne Burkett-Boes heard Klebba was diagnosed with breast cancer, she stepped in and did the piecing that Klebba was doing for the Quilt of Valor. Burkett-Boes had received the same diagnosis at about the same time as Klebba.
Berkett-Boes had surgery this past Wednesday and finished the quilt Saturday, Klebba said.
"It was an act of love and kindness," she said. "I was totally surprised. I thought, 'Why would someone want to do that for me, just because I'm fighting cancer?' But we have lots of people here helping each other out."