June 21, 2023 at 4:28 p.m.

Sewing since the ’60s

Sewing since the ’60s
Sewing since the ’60s

By Ben Sonnek- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Otte enjoys creativity of quilting

A blue quilt has been making the rounds through Sauk Centre businesses for the last month, the handiwork of longtime sewer and quilter Marlene “Moe” Otte. She donated the 104-square-inch London Blues quilt to the Sauk Centre Rotary Club so they could use it for a fundraiser, and her quilting projects are only expanding from there.

 “I just enjoy doing it,” Otte said. “I figure that, if I’m not doing something, I’ll sit in the chair and sleep.”

Otte’s creativity in fabric started in 1961 after her first daughter, Jenny Otte, was born. Otte started by making clothing, but in 1963, she branched out to make her first quilt.

“I don’t know where it is,” Otte said. “It’s disappeared, but I remember the pattern and the colors. I didn’t quilt again except for a few baby quilts for friends and some applique work.”

Otte continued making garments and custom sewing projects, and it was not until 2000 that she made another quilt, this one in a Bargello pattern, which involved many strips of fabric. She promised to give it to another of her daughters, Sandra Gray, who was in the military at the time, but she took it first to the Stearns County Fair where it won a grand champion prize.

At the recommendation of her friend, Annette Hinnenkamp, Otte started quilting again in 2009, and she has been honing her craft ever since. Daughter Jenny has also taken up the hobby.

“We just had a weekend a few weeks ago where we had three ladies from up north who came down,” Otte said. “My daughter came from St. Cloud (and we went to) a friend in town here, and we spent three days at her house sewing.”

Otte is also the longest-running female member of the SCRC. In 1989, women were finally allowed to be Rotary Club members, and Otte was the first to join in Sauk Centre. She would go on to be the first female Rotary district governor in the state.

The London Blues quilt Otte made is the first one she has put forward as a Rotary fundraiser, but it is not the first one like it she has made.

“I have a friend in Texas; we quilt together,” Otte said. “Three years ago, she talked me into doing a block of the month, which is where they send you the fabric to do a block a month, and at the end of 12 months, you have everything. So, I did, and I really liked the company, Wing and a Prayer Design, so I’ve gotten hooked on their patterns and I’ve done numerous patterns of theirs.”

Another part of the inspiration was a quilt Otte saw hanging on the back wall of Quilts and Quilts, a quilt shop in Branson, Missouri.

“It’s so striking, the coloration of it,” Otte said. “It came in a kit, and I did it and really liked it. The next time I was there, they had a kit left, so I bought another one.”

One of Otte’s favorite features of the quilt is its colors, and it was particularly easy to finish because it had a well-written pattern.

“It makes a big difference,” Otte said. “I did one I struggled with; did the center of it, threw it out and started it again because it just wasn’t coming together right.”

Once finished with the London Blues quilt, Otte opted to donate it to the SCRC. If they could not use it, she planned to donate it elsewhere, but the Rotary Club accepted it and are raffling it off, displaying the quilt at multiple Sauk Centre businesses and selling raffle tickets. The drawing for the quilt will be at 7:15 p.m., Wednesday, June 28, at the Sinclair Lewis Park Bandshell in Sauk Centre.

All proceeds from the raffle will go toward the SCRC local youth and community initiatives, including Youth Exchange, the Students Taking Renewed Interest in the Value of Education program, Camp Enterprise, Warm Hands, Warm Heads, Warm Hearts and other community service, fundraising and park maintenance projects.

With the fundraising quilt completed, Otte has already finished a number of lap quilts, throws and baby quilts. She plans to go back to making a big quilt in the near future.

“I get motivated when I’m sewing,” Otte said. “It’s enjoyable. … I’ll keep going until I can’t anymore – or until I run out of funds.”


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