For a recent meeting for breakfast with friends at Cracker Barrel in Seymour, Barb Hall was asked to bring a patriotic quilt she made.
The top part of the 63-inch-by-74-inch twin-size quilt is an American flag made of various fabrics, while the bottom has the phrase “Home of the free because of the brave” and a camouflage fabric cutout of a soldier over beige fabric with smaller images of soldiers. Then the border is a blue fabric with images of military dog tags.
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When Hall unveiled the quilt, a waitress spotted it and encouraged her to show it to policemen sitting nearby.
“They were really, really impressed, and they thanked me and thanked me for sharing it with them,” said Hall, who lives in Crothersville.
The waitress then had Hall show the quilt to other people, including a table where two men and two women were sitting — one of the men is a veteran.
“This guy goes, ‘I don’t know what your name is, but thank you so much for sharing that with me,’” Hall said. “It actually almost brought them to tears because it really did mean something to them.”
On another day, she had the quilt with her when she met friends at The Lunch Box in Crothersville. As she showed it to the restaurant’s owner, a man who is retired from the military saw it and asked for her contact information because he wanted her to make one for him.
“He’s like, ‘Oh my! That is beautiful,’” Hall said.
She recently posted a picture of the quilt on a quilting forum on Facebook and has received more than 1,500 “likes” and numerous comments. “Beautiful,” “I really like this,” “It’s the best I’ve seen,” “Where do I get the pattern?” were among the comments.
Of the hundreds of quilts Hall has made since she started quilting in 2000, the patriotic one has received the most feedback.
“I just think patriotic means something because of living in the United States,” she said. “Just like it says, ‘Home of the free because of the brave.’ Our military is who keeps us free.”
Later this year, she will give the quilt to Gene Hodge, a 2014 Crothersville High School graduate who is in California serving in the Marines. Hall’s granddaughter, Whitney, recently married Hodge.
Hodge has seen a picture of it, but he has not seen it in person, Hall said.
“I am kind of anxious to give it to him,” she said.
Hall said she admires Hodge for making the decision to serve the country.
“To do that and to like where he is, I do admire him,” she said. “I think he is a very good person to do that. He’s very dedicated to that, he really is. Gene has worked very hard to get where he is. He does plan to make a career of it. I think he’ll do good.”
While everyone else has commented on the quilt, Hall said she also is happy with how it turned out.
“I like for my things to look professional,” she said. “I do know that it does look nice, but I’m not saying I’m the best at it because someone else could make it. But I’m proud of my work, I really am. I’m really proud of it.”
Long before she ever picked up quilting, Hall learned how to sew at a young age.
By the time she was in seventh grade, she took a sewing class at school.
“I would get up and make an outfit and wear it before school,” she said. “Girls would be like, ‘I can’t believe you can do that.’ I guess it kind of is a natural talent, although my grandmother on my dad’s side sewed and my mom did not. She would tell you she couldn’t sew a button. But it came from my dad’s side.”
During her junior year, Hall and the other students in a sewing class had to complete a project. While everyone else completed one, Hall did three.
After graduating from Crothersville High School in 1969, she was a beautician for about five years before spending 16 years hanging wallpaper. She also did drapes and custom window treatments for Mary Jane Shields in Austin for years.
She later worked at two Crothersville industries — Aisin Drivetrain Inc. for five years and Versatech for 11 years — until retiring.
Twenty-one years ago, she convinced her husband, Rob, to have a new garage built behind their home, and the top part of it would be a sewing and quilting shop.
“He said, ‘No, we’re not. We don’t need that.’ I said, ‘Oh yes we do,’” she said. “Finally, he just gave in because my sewing was all over my house. I had it in the basement, on the ground floor — it was everywhere.”
Since the shop was built, Hall said she has spent time in there nearly every day.
Once she retired and became a widow — Rob died five years ago after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease — she occupied her time by sewing and quilting in her shop.
“Some people think I’m crazy, but I enjoy it,” she said, smiling. “Even when I worked, I could come out here and just sew. Rob would go, ‘What do you get out of that? How can you go out there and sit and sew for a couple of hours?’ But I enjoy it.”
Hall said the only time she doesn’t go up to her shop is when snow or ice covers the steps.
A few years ago, after having foot surgery, she was determined to work in her shop. She wasn’t supposed to use her foot for six weeks, so she found a different way of getting up to her shop.
“I would use my crutches to get down the steps (from her house) and over to these steps (up to the shop), and I would scoot on my butt to get up here. Then I would use one of my office chairs to get around it,” she said, laughing.
She just feels at home in her shop.
“It’s not that I have to do it,” she said. “I just enjoy it, I really do.”
Hall said quilting became a hobby in 2000 when some of her friends wanted her to take an advanced class with them. She was hesitant at first, but her friends talked her into going.
“Well, I was the only one that finished my quilt, and then I helped a couple of them because I had sewing knowledge, so the quilting just came pretty natural,” she said.
She wound up purchasing her own long arm sewing machine, but two years passed until she decided to use it. She kept it five years until selling it and later purchasing the one she currently owns.
“My quilting machine is my baby,” she said.
Over time, Hall has made several quilts for charities to raffle off.
“I enjoy that,” she said. “It makes you feel good when you do something nice for people and they really appreciate it.”
Each year since 2002, she has made a picture quilt to raffle off at family reunions. Pictures of her family members are transferred onto the cotton material. The raffle money goes toward building rental and food costs for the reunion.
The patriotic quilt she recently made isn’t the first one given to a military member. She also made a patriotic quilt when her cousin graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Quilting may be an expensive hobby, but Hall said it’s worth the money and time, especially when someone expresses what a quilt means to them.
“Look what you’ve got when you’ve got it done,” she said.
Hall said she tries to pass on her knowledge of sewing and quilting whenever she can because to her, those are important skills for people to have.
“My daughter does like to sew,” she said. “She really doesn’t have a lot of time to, but hopefully one of these days, she will. And maybe my granddaughter will.”
If Hall isn’t in her shop sewing or quilting, there’s a good chance you’ll find her in the kitchen baking or cooking.
“Me and three other girls go to Florida on vacation, and I cook while we’re gone,” she said. “I enjoy that. I don’t have to do that, but I enjoy it.”
Name: Barb Hall
Hometown: Born in Butterfly, Kentucky, and lived there until her family moved to Crothersville when she was 9 months old
Education: Crothersville High School (1969); earned beautician license
Occupation: Retired after serving as a beautician for about five years, hanging wallpaper for 16 years and working at Aisin Drivetrain Inc. for five years and Versatech for 11 years
Hobbies: Quilting, sewing, baking and cooking
Family: Late husband, Rob Hall; children, Bobby Hall and Jennifer Wienhorst; grandchildren, Lane Wienhorst and Whitney Hodge; three brothers; one sister