Manassas Journal Messenger 02-16-01


stitch in time — Sewing Day brings Nokesville circle together


Lucy Chumbley




Amy Drewry/Staff Photographer

Two-year-old Alex Fields carefully cuts off a stray

thread while her day-time caregiver, Alma Fisher, of Catlett, ties knots

in a quilted lap robe. Fisher has been coming to Nokesville’s annual Community

Sewing Day with her three sisters, Barbara, Lucy and Edna, for the last

10 years.

NOKESVILLE – It’s raining in Nokesville, but down in the basement of

the Church of the Brethren it’s cozy and warm.

A group of about 30 women are sitting at trestle tables, sewing. Some

are running sewing machines; some are tying knots in quilts or stitching

by hand. Scissors, pins and squares of multi-colored fabric surround them,

and tiny points of light glint from their needles.

They are gathered here for the 43rd annual Community Sewing Day, organized

for the last 10 years by the Martha Early Sewing Circle. Members of the

community are invited to join the circle to sew items for charity and share

a hearty pot-luck lunch.

Fingers fly as the group works to complete 66 quilted lap robes for

patients in area hospitals. Some are stuffing teddy bears, which will be

used to comfort trauma victims, and some are working on a quilt that will

be raffled off later this year to aid disaster victims.

Mary Griffith, of the Manassas Farm Bureau, and Wilma House, of Nokesville,

talk about their families as they sew.

“Can you believe I’m a great grandma – three times over?”

says House.

“Can you believe how old she is?” says Griffith.

Although the room is full, the circle is dwindling. Just eight regular

members now attend the circle’s monthly meetings, and community support

for the sewing day is not what it used to be.

“We’ve lost so many older ones and we’re not getting any younger

ones,” said Mary Gough, circle president. “The younger ones are

working – and we usually meet during the day.”

“It’s a whole lot smaller,” said Gough’s mother, Virginia

Wood, who has been a member of the circle since it began in the 1940s. Her

mother was also a member.

“It used to be, whole tables would just be jammed full – 80, 100

people at a time,” she said. “It is really down to almost nothing

– people just doesn’t have the interest to come and sew.”

Wood sews even seams as she speaks. She can’t sew with a needle any

more as her fingers are “numbified,” but she still crochets and

uses a sewing machine.

“I’ve sewed all my life,” she said. “My mother sewed

and of course I’ve sewed for the children when they was going to school.”

Wood has taught her daughters, granddaughters and a great granddaughter

to sew.

“I just love it. All the time I’m making quilts or something. I’ve

made nine quilt tops since Christmas, then at night I’ll sit down and make

Afghans,” she said. “It’s relaxing to me – it really is.

“See, I moved in with my daughter,” she said. The day goes

somewhere – I’m sewing and working.”

Alma Fisher has been coming to the community day with her sisters, Barbara,

Lucy and Edna for the last 10 years. She used to come with her mom. Today,

2-year-old Alex Fields, the child she looks after, is watching her work.

“Used to be, a lot of the room was so full you couldn’t hardly

fit,” she said. Although she said she noticed a few new faces this


A former Mennonite, Fisher still wears the traditional clothes, although

she now attends the Baptist church in Catlett. Her Amish father had the

last remaining horse and buggy in Catlett, converting to a car in 1974.

“I always have a quilt in progress,” she said. “My daughter

just turned 10 and she sews the quilt parts together.”

Fisher quilts using a frame that takes up most of a room in her house.

“The one I have in now, I put in the first of December. Probably

the first of February I’ll get it out. It’s a lot of work, but I like it,”

she said.

Fisher’s two sons, age 8 and 6, also like to quilt, although she says

she is not ready to let them use the sewing machine yet.

For now, at least, the circle is holding. But what about its future?

“A lot of people don’t know how to sew,” said Wood. “I

had one of them here who had never learned to tie knots. And she’s almost

as old as we are.

“Not as old as you are,” quips her neighbor.

Wood smiles, not missing a stitch.

· Contact Lucy Chumbley at [email protected]



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