Monette woman shares quilting skills

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Marion Sparkman is well known for her quilts. It takes more than sewing skills to design, cut out, and do the math to get the the blocks all perfectly even.

Marion Sparkman of Monette took her long-time sewing skills to a new level when she discovered she had a passion for making quilts. She retired in 2005 from the shoe company working in Monette and Jonesboro for 30 years.

She was asked about making scrubs for employees at two different nursing homes. For the next couple of years she made 20 or 25 sets of scrubs every two weeks.

In 2006 she decided to learn how to make quilts. Her step-mother-in-law Bertha Sparkman hand-quilted and taught her how to use the frames.

Sparkman won second place with her leaf quilt.

Marion's husband, Richard, made the frames for her. They had converted a portion of their shop into a sewing room in 2002. She did her sewing upstairs and was always taking her work up and down the stairs. They decided to make a sewing room which has been expanded for sewing and quilting.

Marion is blessed with the ability to look at a picture and create it on material.

She hand-quilted about three quilts and decided there had to be an easier way.

This quilt, made by Marion Sparkman, won in the 2017 Buffalo Island Museum quilt show. She is sharing her talent with others as she teaches quilting classes.

“Janie Jacobson taught me how to quilt as I go, quilting one block at a time,” she said. “I fell in love with quilting from the start.”

Marion soon decided quilting could be much easier with a commercial quilting machine. She did her research and found the machine she wanted. She can quilt sizes ranging from a baby crib to king size on the machine.

“You have to really concentrate during the quilting process because with a blink of an eye you can get off and have to rip out and start over,” she said.

She loves the challenge of quilting. She uses math to make sure the blocks are perfectly proportioned, allowing for the seams. She enjoys working with the designs and colors.

Marion and her husband work well together. She can design something and he builds it. Even a variety of rulers she uses in her quilting was built by Richard, along with a quilt rack, and other items she needs. Richard is retired from John Deere and he turned one of her old machines into a John Deere tractor and using the frame he built a chair for the shop.

Marion is sharing her quilting skills by teaching others the art of creating a quilt.

“Raye Finley called me and asked if I would conduct quilting classes for a few women interested in learning how to quilt,” Sparkman said. “I told her I had never taught a class but I was willing to try. I have always been a people person. We have really enjoyed the classes. It is not like a job, we have fun during our classes. I know people are busy so we just work as they can. Most of the women want to learn how to make the quilt tops and don't worry about the quilting but a couple ladies want to take it from start to finish.”

She and her students enjoyed participating in the Buffalo Island Museum quilt show.

Marion also has made and donated at least six quilts for fund-raising projects for her church and other community efforts. She has helped make 125 lap quilts for two nursing homes.

In addition to her quilting, she does basic alterations.

“I don't do zippers and I don't do formals,” she said. “I do basic alterations."

Baking cakes, making candy, and crocheting are among the additional skills Marion excels in. She had a standing order from one woman for a fresh apple cake every two weeks for over a year.

If anyone is interested in the upcoming quilting classes or a quilt, they can call Mrs. Sparkman at (870) 926-7861.

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