By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.- The small ragged quilt was nearly 90 years old. Carefully handsewn butterfly squares adorned the aged shredded heirloom.
“It needed some repair,” said Sheila Newton, a 76-year-old township resident, former British citizen and lifelong seamstress.
Earlier this year Newton had received the family quilt from Lake Orion resident Barb Kirk to make the some repairs.
“I had that quilt for many years and it was pretty fragile,” said Kirk. “The quilt belonged to my husband’s great grandmother, Mary Kirk and I was going to give it to my son’s wife who loved butterflies for Christmas. My son just happened to be born on Mary’s birthday too. But the quilt needed some work before I gave it to her.”
Soon after the quilt was given to Newton for the repair, it was stolen along with her sewing machine while her car was parked in the driveway of family’s township home.
Despite efforts by sheriff deputies to find the quilt and sewing equipment it was never returned.
To make matters worse, Newton had no phone number to contact Kirk regarding her stolen quilt since Kirk’s contact information was with the quilt.
Newton was devastated after the quilt was stolen.
“I had a chance to look at the quilt for just a few minutes when it was given to me for repairs,” said Newton. “I then had to wait until Barb called me to tell her it was stolen. Since the chances of someone ever returning the quilt is pretty slim—I just had to replace it.”
So, Newton who sewed regularly at Mabelena’s Quilt Shop, 470 Mill St., Ortonville, purchased 1930s era fabric as close as possible to the original while Brenda Heffernan owner of Mabelena’s created the pattern.
“Brenda also loaned me her sewing machine since mine had been stolen,” she said. “Each butterfly square took about an hour to hand sew.”
Then last month the replacement quilt was completed and presented to a suprised Kirk at Mabelena’s.
“It looks like a newer version of the old butterfly quilt,” said Kirk, who was overwhelmed with the project. “It’s just so much like the old one. It is just beautiful. They even did the stitching the same as the old quilt.”