Greensburg woman sews a sentimental journey
By Michele Stewardson
Published: Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Virginia “Ginnie” Leiner loves to quilt so much that she's made 15 quilts with a Christmas theme this year.
Every family extending from her birth family got one as an early surprise in “The Year of the Christmas Quilt.”
That's embroidered on the back of each one, along with the quilt's name and signature lines.
“She is so talented and puts so much care into it,” said Denise Hauser, Leiner's sister in Wheaton, Ill. “Just like with the others I've received, I'll always cherish this one. We were all so surprised. “
Hauser said all the quilts were spread out upon the floor. To see them all together was “just amazing,” she said.
Leiner, who has been quilting for 40 years, initially decided to tackle 10 gift quilts.
Ten turned into 12 and then into 15 quilts as she made one for herself too. That's not counting the quilts she made this year without the Christmas theme.
The entire project took 10 months for Leiner to complete.
The style of quilt construction she used is called patchwork; the quilting is called stitch in the ditch. She incorporated free-form quilting in the shape of Christmas trees. The fabric is 100 percent natural cottons and linen.
Leiner said she was positive she knew which loved one was going to pick which quilt.
She was wrong on every guess — with the exception of her mother.
“Guess my psychic ability is not up there with my quilting ability,” joked Leiner, who works as membership and development coordinator for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
She tells the tales of the homes where the quilts landed at a community online forum operated by the American Quilter's Society.
“Christmas for Cowboys” went to Leiner's nephew and his bride in southern California. It fits. They married in a “gorgeous barn” on a ranch. “Mind Your P's and Q's” is proudly displayed by Leiner's former husband and his wife, “my friends,” she writes.
It is a denouement for the story that began 2013 at MyQuiltPlace.com, an online community where Leiner shared her goal of making quilts for every family.
And warned readers not to tell until they were distributed over Thanksgiving.
But the story really began when Leiner was 18 years old, she got her first sewing machine and she began making clothes with scrap material.
To date, she's made 132 quilts that she has given away to family members and friends.
Leiner's daughter, Becky Newcomer, said she can't remember a time that her mother wasn't a quilt maker.
“She continues to amaze and surprise me by what her brain artistically thinks of,” said Newcomer, who lives in Plano, Texas. “She's always working on a quilt or thinking about a quilt.”
Newcomer recently started cross stitching, which led to quilting. She has made four of her own quilts. Her mother only helped with the first one, Newcomer said. And now Leiner writes of her daughter's success.
“I think I've been bitten by the bug,” said Newcomer, who treasures the five quilts created just for her by her mother.
Leiner, the mother of two daughters who also collects quilts, admits that quilting is more than a hobby.
“It's kind of a passion that has taken over my life,” she said. “In fact, my husband would call it borderline obsession.”
Perhaps she said it best when she told the online community of quilters:
“Quilting gives my life a sense of order, an outlet for creativity and a great way to say 'I love you' when I give a quilt to someone.”
Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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