BASS Times: Memories wrapped up in quilt

SIOUX CITY, S.D. — Housecleaning and bass fishing aren't usually linked together. In fact, most times one cancels out the opportunity to do the other.

But Jim Gacke, president of the South Dakota B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and an active member of the Sioux City Bass Club, found a way to enjoy them both, if not always on the water.

"My wife was on me to clean out all the bass fishing T-shirts and other stuff I'd acquired over the years," he says. "And I have to admit there were a bunch of them around, several dozen anyway. They were becoming a storage problem. But I'd had them for a while and really didn't want to just throw them out. Some of them were hard-earned and brought back memories of good times."

So he thought of his sister, Sheri Russel. "She's been quilting for many years and is really good at it. She can do almost anything with a needle and a sewing machine. I thought, why not give her a call and see what ideas she might have. Maybe she could make something useful out of the shirts. That would get them out of the house and save them at the same time."

After some discussion, Russel agreed to give it a try. She cut portions of Jim's T-shirts, towels and old fishing jackets into pieces and began fitting them together. After plenty of trial and error, she made them into an old-fashioned patchwork quilt.

This was no small project. The quilt is big enough to cover a king size bed and then some. And, according to the maker, it is one of the most unique quilts in the country. She doesn't believe anyone has ever tried something like this before.

"The project took nearly two years of regular work to complete, involved approximately 20 T-shirts, quite a few towels and several jackets. I used the best parts of them to make a type of patchwork quilt with a combination of machine and free-motion work. It wasn't easy to put all that together, but it turned out pretty well," she says. "I wouldn't tell anyone else to try it unless they're serious. It's a lot of work."

Gacke's pride in his quilt — and his sister — is obvious. "Thanks to Sheri, I cleaned out my house, which made my wife happy, and I saved some of the fishing clothing I'd acquired over the years that means a lot to me.

"It worked out really well. In fact, I'm thinking about another project for the future," he laughs. "Maybe this is something other guys should think about."

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