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A legacy stitched into a quilt

A seamstress since childhood, this Welches woman now uses a computerized quilting machine


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Jean Ludeman of Welches guides the stitching on her computerized quilting machine as she creates a twin-size quilt of valor.Many people in the Welches neighborhood know Jean Ludeman, who they say lives and breathes quilting.

She’s a member of the Piecemakers, a quilting group that meets twice a month in Hoodland. She’s also a member of the Quilting and Fiber Arts Club, a group that meets at the Sandy Historical Museum twice a month.

“Both groups are very supportive,” she said. “They are great groups of people who help each other grow and learn.”

Almost an art form, quilting is what Ludeman does when there’s nothing else to do — even when there is something else to do.

Ludeman says she cannot sit down and do nothing. When that scenario occurs, she goes to her quilting machine or her sewing machine and continues to work on her current projects.

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Showing a quilt that is still unfinished, quilter Jean Ludeman of Welches has copied a historic quilt designed around the time of the Civil WarBecause of that, she will admit to being passionate about quilting, of putting her creative work with fabric over many other activities.

But her career took too much of her energy, and she didn’t get back to her creative outlet until she retired in 2005. Since then, it has been nonstop.

“My granddaughter wanted a new quilt,” Ludeman said. “She had seen quilts I had made 40 years ago for her dad and her aunt. And then my other granddaughter wanted a quilt. So I took some classes, and that started the whole thing.”

She missed sewing, but she didn’t want to make clothes any more. Quilting filled her need for a creative outlet and made her granddaughters happy.

One of the lessons good quilters learn soon is to be precise, a lesson Ludeman says is difficult but possible.

Back in the day, quilters didn’t have computer-operated quilting machines, Ludeman said. Instead, they often stitched the quilts by hand, a time-consuming and tedious process that made it more difficult to be precise.

One of the projects Ludeman has tackled off and on for the past five years is to replicate a traditional quilt that was completed in the South by 1863. This historic quilt, which is in a museum in the Southeast, has 225 blocks of fabric and more than 5,000 pieces of fabric sewn together in various geometric patterns — with no two pieces of fabric the same and no two blocks exactly the same, either in design or in color. One difference between the quilts two centuries apart is the brightness of colors in the current quilt. Those colors just weren’t available in the mid-1800s, Ludeman said.

In her early ’70s, she knows the quilts she is making now will warm people’s bodies and hearts long after her future memorial service.

In Ludeman’s mind, while she is creating quilts she is creating a legacy — a gift to the future, a sharing of the past.

“I consider (this work) my legacy,” she said. “When I’m gone, these quilts will be here for many more years. I have made them for family and friends, who appreciate them, and (the quilts) are going to be here long after I’m gone. So this is the legacy I’m leaving for the people I care about.”