BY MARY WICOFF
DANVILLE — Where do old neckties go when they’ve served their usefulness? Some get buried in the back of the closet; some go to resale shops; and others meet an inglorious end in the garbage.
A few lucky ties get recycled into a colorful quilt, assembled by the skillful hands of Donna Gash of Danville.
“It was a fun project and not nearly as difficult as I had thought,” Gash said of her quilt, featuring about 30 neckties.
Gash, a member of Creative Covers quilt club, brought her creation to a recent gathering of the group, which meets at Threads of Time. She had made her quilt at home.
Gash said she had been collecting men’s ties for 20 years, with the idea of one day making something out of them. She got most of them from rummage sales or thrift shops, adding, “The most I paid for a tie was a quarter.”
She eventually ended up with about 100 ties of all colors and designs, preferring the flowers and small prints. None came from the closet of her husband, Ron.
“Sewing with silk was a scary thought, but I kept collecting them,” she said.
Years ago, she started making a vest using the ties, but soon realized she wouldn’t wear it, and stopped the project. Last November or December, she saw a pattern for a quilt using men’s ties, and she decided to try it.
She sorted the ties by thickness and prints (removing all the striped ties), took the linings off, opened them up, pressed them and cut the ties into strips of different sizes.
She also cut the labels off the back, and sewed some of them onto the back of the quilt. A couple of the labels feature names from Danville’s past — Ries Strauss and Block & Kuhl.
Because the quilt can’t be machine washed, she cut off a “Dry Clean Only” tag and sewed it into one corner.
She surrounded the colorful ties, arranged to create the illusion of diamonds, with an acetate border in maroon and blue. It took about a month to make the quilt, she said, and she plans to enter it into the quilt show at the Vermilion County Museum.
“It was a challenge,” she said.
Gash plans to display her creation at home.
When not working on her own projects, Gash is one of about nine members of Creative Covers. The group meets monthly to make quilts and covers for organizations in the community, such as the women’s shelter at Your Family Resource Connection, Provena United Samaritans Medical Center, the Women’s Care Clinic, and the city and county police departments.
People donate material and items, which are then used to make the quilts for children, families and seniors. Donations of cotton and flannel materials are always accepted.
At a recent meeting, several children’s quilts were stacked up, ready to be distributed to the Women’s Care Clinic.
“Some little kid is going to love this,” Faye Williamson said, admiring a quilt in pastel colors.
Most use the Take 5 pattern, with five pieces to a square. The quilts and blankets vary in size, too, depending on how much material is available.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Gash, who makes an average of one quilt a month. She makes lap quilts for nursing homes.
Two other quilting groups, Hearts and Hands Night Quilters and the Vermilion Valley Quilters, also work on projects for the community.
To donate material or to get involved with Creative Covers, leave a message for Faye Williamson at Threads of Time, 431-9202.
The group meets from noon to 3 p.m. on the second Friday of each month at the fabric store, 207 S. Buchanan St.