Women’s group sews patriotic quilts for Michigan veterans
By SAMUEL DODGE | MLive.com | Published: November 26, 2019
JACKSON, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — Janet Rochefort’s son is a 23-year U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, currently serving at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington.
Cathey Newhouse’s father served in the U.S. Army military police during World War II.
It’s fair to say these connections fuel their patriotism, Rochefort said. They channel this love of country by giving back to veterans as members of Jackson County’s Pieces and Patches Quilt Guild.
The organization sews quilts to donate to veterans from across the county. On Tuesday, Nov. 25, they brought 29 quilts to Jackson’s Ella Sharp Museum for an event honoring former service members from the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of Jackson.
Dozens of veterans showed up, including a color guard to open the evening. Rochefort said the ceremony was emotionally resonant for her, as she values public service through the military, teaching or volunteer work.
Pieces and Patches has about 160 members, Rochefort said, with more than 50 percent coming from Jackson County. The rest hail from Hillsdale and Lenawee counties, she said.
All of the quilts donated on Tuesday featured red, white and blue patches, or ones that signified a part of American history. Rochefort, a former Jackson County treasurer, pointed out one that featured a 1940s World War II pin-up girl right in the center.
“Look at the variation,” she said of the quilts as she donned a vibrant, American flag-themed sweater. “None of them are alike.”
Newhouse, a former Northwest Parnall Elementary School teacher, said the quilts are best for “naps.”
“They’re to be used as a throw or (when) you curl up for a movie,” she said. “They’re not full bed size.”
The veterans receiving the quilts were selected by their commanders at the American Legion, or leaders at the Vietnam Veterans of Jackson, Newhouse said.
One quilt takes anywhere from 25 to 40 hours of work, Rochefort said. She said she cut up to 100 yards of fabric for Tuesday night’s event.
“A hundred yards does not take you very far,” she said. “It takes usually takes at least four yards just for the top (of the quilt).”
A quilt is made up of a top, middle and bottom layer of fabric, Newhouse said. Outside of those rules, she said each quilt made by a member is a separate piece of art.
“It’s your colors that are being put together," she said. “It’s your uniqueness. It’s your type of quilting, your type of fabrics. Everybody has different things they bring.”