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“Bringing Home the Tree” is one of the first large quilts Bev Peterman ever made. She creatively used metallic thread in the applique scene’s pond to give the illusion of sparkling, icy water.

Growing up on a farm, Bev Peterman was one of 11 children — three boys and eight girls.

Needless to say, her mother sewed a lot of clothes.

It was on that farm, located two-and-a-half miles northeast of Grand Mound, that Peterman’s mother taught her how to sew.

Now, the mother of five, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of two has been living in DeWitt for most of her adult life with her husband, Ed, of 62 years, and sewing is as much a part of her life as it ever was.

Now through June 17, pieces of her work are on display at First Central Gallery, located in the lobby of the Operahouse Theatre in downtown DeWitt.

Peterman’s specialty is creating art quilts that contain applique. Applique in quilting is attaching a raw-edged fabric shape onto a quilt block and stiching around it to secure it down.

Applique allows a person to add scenes, color and texture to a quilt and can be applied by hand or a sewing machine.

It is something Peterman said she fell into completely by mistake. 

“One day, I bought a pattern I thought was real cute,” she related. “But then I got it home, and noticed, hey, this isn’t a pattern. I thought, was is this? There were no seams in it.” 

In fact, it was an applique design.

Like other creative endeavors at which she excels, Peterman gave applique a try with no prior experience.

She has been hooked ever since.

Peterman has a collection of applique quilts at her home, which she hangs on the walls like pictures.

Her exhibit at First Central Gallery is not the first time she has displayed her work, and Peterman also has spoken to various groups and sewing guilds about her craft.

While it can be a time-consuming hobby, she has the patience to enjoy it and see each project through to the end.

“One I get started (on a project), I can’t quit,” Peterman explained. “I never leave an unfinished piece, and I do one project at a time. I’m always excited to see what it will look like when it’s finished.”

She admitted many of her seamstress friends, especially those in Pharr, Texas, where she and Ed spend their winters, have expansive sewing rooms where they like to create.

However, all Peterman needs is to sit down at her sewing machine situated in a small corner of her family room.

As for what she wants visitors at the gallery see when they look at her applique creations, Peterman said it’s pretty simple.

“I hope they see it as artwork,” she shared. “People may not think it is, but there’s a lot of work put into it, and it’s creative.”