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Stitch by stitch: Child is learning life lessons

Managing editor

Malorie Hein of Hillsboro appears to be a typical 5-year-old girl. She wears skirts, likes to play, likes the color pink, and spends time with her family.

What makes Malorie a bit unusual is her “hobby” — making quilt pieces.

Of course, she does not do this alone.

Since she was 2 years old, she has helped her grandmother, Susan Hein of Hillsboro, who is teaching Malorie the art of quilting.

The young seamstress, the daughter of Kerry and Rachel Hein, recently had her first quilt, “Around the World,” on display at Marion City Library, completing it when she was 4 years old.

For 15-20 minutes here and there for the past two to three years, the grandmother and her student worked on the quilt.

So, what can a small child do? Well, she’s learned to turn the sewing machine on and off, can place the material under the machine’s foot, and can push a button to stitch the fabric squares.

Malorie also can iron, “with Grandma’s help,” she adds.

When the quilt was pieced together, Fern Goodwin of Burns actually quilted it, making the trademark designs. After it was quilted, Susan finished the piece of art by adding binding (trim) to the queen-sized quilt.

Susan picked out the fabrics for this first quilt.

Currently the team is working on another quilt and the fabric for this one Malorie picked out.

“It has boys and girls on it,” she said. The pattern is called “Dick and Jane,” Susan added. It is going to be just the right size for Malorie’s bed, a twin size.

For the past seven or eight years, Susan has been doing quilt pieces. When Malorie was born, Malorie’s mother worked full-time, with Grandma Susan staying with the baby.

As Malorie grew up, she was introduced to sewing by stitching felt squares, which led to the quilt project.

“She’s learning more than just quilting,” Susan said. “She’s learning her colors, shapes, and math.”

It takes some calculating to determine the amount of fabric needed and how the fabric will be stitched to make a quilt.

Malorie’s grandmother and parents also know the child is learning more than just sewing techniques. They know she is learning how to persevere — sticking with something until it’s finished.

Marion City Librarian Janet Marler, a relative of the Heins, called Susan and asked her to bring a quilt for the recent show at the library. Instead of taking one of her own, Susan wanted the world to see Malorie’s quilt.

So there it was. Malorie’s first work of art, on display.

These days, Rachel stays at home to care for Malorie’s two sisters, Trudy, 3, and Nora, 16 months. But Malorie, and now Trudy, too, still have sewing lessons with Susan.

“It’s teaching them life lessons and hopefully some skills they can always use,” Rachel said.

Last modified April 1, 2009

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