By Cynthia L. Miller


 BRODHEAD – Born of necessity, quilts have been part of American culture for centuries. Quilts were originally utilitarian articles providing warm covers for beds or as hangings over doors and windows to keep out the cold. The earliest quilts were intimately connected to everyday life. Today, quilts and quilting making have become expressions of creativity and artistic design.

Sue Halprin of Brodhead is considered a very talented quilter by many. In fact, at the recent Skaalen Auxiliary Quilt Faire, her entry won the Viewer’s Choice Award. Held last month, the quilt faire was held as a benefit for the residents of Skallen Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located in Stoughton. More than 100 beautiful quilts were on display. Exhibitors shared quilts of all sizes, some newly made, some antique and collectable, and some were quilts that were made for Lutheran World Relief. Priscilla Bump of Brodhead and a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, won a beautiful crazy quilt made by the Luther Valley Lutheran Church quilting group.

A retired teacher, Sue and her husband Jim, came to Brodhead in 1969. The couple left in 1984 to teach overseas. When they returned to Brodhead Eileen Daniels former Home Economics teacher and quilter inspired Sue with the wonderful quilts she had made. That began her self -proclaimed obsession with quilting. Since then Sue has taken classes to learn new techniques and enjoys attending conferences such as Quilt Expo in Madison, and the AQS show in Paducah, Ky. “Getting together with other quilters is much of the fun. Quilters are a congenial group and love to share ideas, look for new fabrics and learn about new tools,” Sue remarked.

In a room dedicated to her craft, Sue does free-motion quilting on her home sewing machine, but doesn’t do hand quilting anymore. “Just the one, the first one I have on my bed,” she said. Sue likes to go through fabric shops, picking up small pieces and fabric remnants. “You never know what you may find,” she said of the shops.

Many of her quilts, including the award winning Skaalen quilt are decorated with whimsical appliqué. It is a delight for the viewer to discover ladybugs, a frog, butterflies and bees amidst the flowers and vines of the various quilt blocks. Sue’s award winning quilt was made from a pattern by Mary Sorensen, a Florida based appliqué instructor.

Sue estimates that she has made at least 50 quilts over the years, but doesn’t sell many of them. “I make them mostly for family and friends,” she remarked. Many of her beautiful appliquéd quilts can be seen hanging throughout the couple’s home – lovely works born not of necessity, but of artistic expression.