By Frank Haight, Jr.
The Examiner, January 30, 2004
Millie Hohimer is a woman of many talents.
This longtime Independence resident knows how to sew, knit and crochet. She also has done bead work, calligraphy, ceramics, cake decorating and other crafts. But her No. 1 pastime is quilting.
Introduced to sewing as a young girl, Millie made her first quilt as a 9-year-old using scraps from old dresses she and her sister wore to school.
Millie says she made the quilt as "a good practice piece" after learning how to operate her mother's treadle sewing machine.
As young Millie grew up, she made quilt tops for family members. However, it wasn't until she retired from the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in 1985 that she took up quilting seriously.
Looking for an outlet after a 34-year career as a secretary, Millie was introduced to the Calico Cut-ups, an Independence quilt club.
Throughout the years, Millie has been in charge of the club's annual show. But not this year. She's the featured quilter at the club's 16th quilt show, which runs Feb. 6 through 8 at St. Luke's United Church of Christ, 727 N. Main St., Independence. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 6 and 7; 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 8.
As the show's featured quilter, Millie is displaying eight of her quilts, including her favorite, "Roses in Stained Glass."
Made in 1995, this queen-size quilt has won the Viewers' Choice Award at three area shows. The Kansas City Quilt Guild Show and the Marshall (Mo.) Quilt Guild Show are among them.
Fascinated by stained glass, Millie's goal was to make a quilt someday using the stained-glass method. This she did after seeing a picture in a calendar of a stained-glass quilt.
After photocopying the picture and making some modifications, "Roses in Stained Glass" evolved.
The center of the quilt, Millie says, looks like a stained-glass window with a trellis of roses across it. The stained-glass is on a gray background with a vine appliqué border with green leaves and rosebuds.
All the quilts in Millie's exhibit have been shown before, except for a "Stack 'n Whack" version made specifically for the show. Made in the shape of a pinwheel, the "Stack 'n Whack" design was created by cutting and matching material so that each piece of material cut matches the other piece, Millie says.
The annual Calico Cut-ups show is an opportunity for members to show off their skills. It also lets people know the quilt club exists. Members meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays at Independence Towers, U.S. 24 and Jennings Road in eastern Independence.
The show features some 90 to 100 quilting items made by club members, as well as a display of quilt blocks made by the children at The Schoolhouse, a private Independence school operated by Mary Childers.
The event also features a number of venders, demonstrations and an Opportunity Quilt that will be given away Sunday afternoon. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.
Made by club members, the large pastel-colored "Dresden Plate" Opportunity Quilt features an appliqué medallion in the center.
Noting the "nearly king-sized" Opportunity Quilt was the largest ever made by the club, Millie says members have been selling raffle tickets since the quilt was completed in early September. Members started working on it last spring.
Proceeds will be used to make monetary donations to The Salvation Army, the Community Services League and Hope House.
The featured artist also will be wearing the hat of a demonstrator. At noon Friday and Saturday, she will demonstrate the flying geese technique using a ruler design.
Millie says she is going to demonstrate how to take little blocks, add them to a big block and end up with four flying geese.
Other demonstrators: Judy Lovell, appliqué techniques, 11 a.m., Friday and Saturday; Ruby Downing, signature labels and piano key borders, 1 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and Alta Short, "Easy Star" technique, 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
The show is free; the building is handicapped assessable.
For Millie, quilting is more than a hobby. It's a way of life. Every night, she finds time to sit at the kitchen table and quilt a while using her portable sewing machine.
"I always have one or two projects going at home all the time," she says. "That way I work on one a while, then switch. That way I don't get bored."
Millie is too busy for that.
On the first Tuesday of the month, she drives to Lexington, Mo., where she is vice president of the Lexington Quilt Guild. There she works on quilts that will be donated to charitable organizations.
Then on Thursdays, you'll find Millie at the First Baptist Church of Carrollton, Mo., quilting for the Missouri Baptist Children's Home in Peculiar.
Being involved as she is, Millie says, is why she only made two quilts last year.
Millie, though, doesn't mind keeping busy. She wouldn't have it any other way.
"Quilting is very relaxing ... it's good therapy ... and it is a way to release stress and get away from the pressures of life."
But most of all, Millie enjoys making quilts for others.
"It's always better to give than to receive," she says.
Frank Haight Jr. is The Examiner's community news reporter. Contact him a firstname.lastname@example.org or call 350-6363.