64 AMAZING DEEDS

In her basement, Lana Hauschel stitches patterns on the quilts using a sewing machine attached to a metal frame. Initially Hauschel planned to finish 86 quilts by her July 4 deadline. But because the machine nicked a pin while she was stitching No. 65, she decided to stop with No. 64. “If timing is off a millisecond, it skips stitches,” she said. “The top stitch won’t connect with the bottom thread.” Free Press/Aleen Ratzlaff
In her basement, Lana Hauschel stitches patterns on the quilts using a sewing machine attached to a metal frame. Initially Hauschel planned to finish 86 quilts by her July 4 deadline. But because the machine nicked a pin while she was stitching No. 65, she decided to stop with No. 64. “If timing is off a millisecond, it skips stitches,” she said. “The top stitch won’t connect with the bottom thread.” Free Press/Aleen Ratzlaff

Last week, Lana Hauschel of Hillsboro finished 64 machine-stitched quilts by her July 4 deadline.

“That was my goal to do the quilts because I had so many (pieced tops),” Hauschel said about this project that honors her mother, Donna Lyman, who died in August 2016. ““My mom turned 86 on July 4th.”

The 64 quilts, which each measure 42 inches by 55 inches, will be donated to the Linus Project, a national organization with chapters in all 50 states.

“They give quilts to sick and terminally children in the Wichita area hospitals, I believe,” she said about Project Linus. “That’s the district we’re in.”

Hauschel estimates that her mother had donated more than 200 quilts to Project Linus, with her first contributions made about 15 years ago. In fact, mother and daughter quilted together.

“When we first started, we would work on weekends and invite ladies over and would make tops,” she said about the quilts donated to Project Linus. “From there, Mom just took it one step further and worked on them at the house because we couldn’t get together soon enough for her.”

Hauschel was inspired to quilt by her maternal grandmother, who was a devoted quilter.

“Also, I had a really good home ec teacher when I was in school and she taught us a class there,” Hauschel said. “And then from there I came home with it.”

That helped to motivate her mother to start quilting after she retired from a metal siding factory in McPherson.

“Mom has always hand-embroidered,” Hauschel said. “She’s hand-embroidered tea towels and pillow cases. And then we crossed over to quilts. When she heard about Project Linus, that was all she did.”

After her mother died, Hauschel counted 129 quilt tops pieced by mother that were stored in totes and boxes in the basement.

“They had always been weighing on my mind about what I was going to do,” she said about the stacks of pieced tops. “In fact, at one point, I thought of donating them to Etcetera because there’s so many.”

But in June, when Hauschel was returning from a vacation in Colorado, she determined to resolve her dilemma.

“I had to quilt them and finish them,” she said. “It had to be done because that’s what she intended.”

An experienced quilter, Hauschel works in the basement of her home in Hillsboro. In fact, she has one room that’s devoted to her quilting projects. In another, larger room she has a sewing machine attached to a metal frame that enables her to machine-stitch patterns on the top of the quilts.

Lana Hauschel, with 5-year-old grandson Easton, holds one of the 64 quilts pieced by her mother that will be donated to Project Linus for distribution to hospitalized children. “They give quilts to sick and terminally children in the Wichita area hospitals, I believe,” said Hauschel, adding that she intends to make an annual donation in her mother’s honor. Free Press/Aleen Ratzlaff
Lana Hauschel, with 5-year-old grandson Easton, holds one of the 64 quilts pieced by her mother that will be donated to Project Linus for distribution to hospitalized children. “They give quilts to sick and terminally children in the Wichita area hospitals, I believe,” said Hauschel, adding that she intends to make an annual donation in her mother’s honor. Free Press/Aleen Ratzlaff
Hauschel said she taught herself to machine quilt and uses the free-motion quilting machine that joins the back, batting and quilt top with a pattern of stitching.

She first attaches an unfinished quilt to rods on the frame.

“It takes me longer to pin it in than it does to quilt it,” she said about the process. ““I started with (stitching) a pattern but I don’t follow the pattern anymore. Mine’s an older machine that doesn’t have a stitch regulator on it, so it’s me that’s (making the stitching pattern).”

The machine she uses now is her second one.

“The first one we got was a little bit smaller,” she said. “Thanks to my mom, we wore that one out. It wouldn’t stay in time ever, so we traded it in for the next size bigger.”

The machine’s timing is vital.

“If timing is off a millisecond, it skips stitches,” Hauschel said. “The top stitch won’t connect with the bottom thread.”

In fact, her initial goal was to complete 86 quilts by her mother’s birthday—86 quilts for age 86.

After Hauschel had completed 64 quilts, the machine hit a pin as she was stitching No. 65.

“Hitting the pin threw off the machine’s timing so it skips stitches,” she said. “I’ve got long stitches here that are not attaching. My husband can fix (the machine) but we haven’t had time to get together.”

Husband Rick, who is employed as service manager at John Deere, compares the quilting machine to a hay baler.

“He says everything has to be lined up just so-so,” she said.

So Hauschel decided to stop at 64 quilts.

“I was shooting for 86 and the machine broke down at 64, and I told myself that was Mom telling me that she’s 64 for eternity,” Hauschel said with a chuckle. “She didn’t want to be 86. I could see her doing that, so I didn’t push it.”

While Hauschel headed up the project, she had several friends who helped out.

“On a good day, I could get 10 to 12 quilts quilted, on a good day,“ she said. “When I first started, I would just quilt. I had a friend here in town and she trimmed them. While she was trimming, I was still quilting. And then I had another friend come over later and she trimmed again.”

She had another friend who helped with the binding. Also her extended family was involved, including three of Lyman’s sisters who helped to hand-stitch the binding around the quilts.

“I wanted as much of my mom’s family to touch the quilts as possible,” Hauschel said.

The Hauschels have two grown daughters, Lauren and Reba, and six grandchildren.

“I loaded the quilts up with one of my daughters and we went to Pittsburg, Kan., and stitched with my mom’s granddaughters,” she said. “We didn’t get much done, but it was a lot of fun.”

Hauschel said although she experienced some exhaustion completing the three-week project, it was worth the effort.

“I would probably do it all over again if I had to,” she said. “Truthfully, it was never about the quilts for her. It was about the journey.