HARTINGTON — Look inside the glove box of just about any farmer's pickup truck and you'll find a well-worn plat book.
The books are helpful when figuring out who owns a piece of land, but each page shows only a small portion of the county in question in a simple black-and-white display.
Kathy Brummels took the plat book a step further and made it look a heck of a lot more interesting. The Coleridge, Nebraska, quilter stitched together 2.5-inch squares of fabric to represent every section of land in Cedar County. Other added landmarks form a unique quilt that's also a pretty good county map, though you wouldn't be able to stash this one easily in your vehicle.
It was only fitting that Brummels used a plat book to trace the Missouri River's bends and turns so that the blue fabric she used to represent the river accurately depicted the county's northern border. She included earth-colored fabric patches to show the larger islands that dot the river's channel.
"I just had fun," said Brummels, who has been sewing since she was a little girl in 4-H.
In her quest for accuracy, Brummels used tan-colored fabric for the county's sandier areas, brownish-green to represent bluffs along the Missouri River and varying shades of green for fertile crop land. She embroidered a black zig-zag pattern to mark highway routes, and the name of each town is embroidered next to a large button to show the location.
For six weeks, the quilt was displayed in the Cedar County Courthouse, and county residents often stopped in front of it, pointing to the location of their homes and property, the Sioux City Journal reported.
"We live right here," Brummels said, pointing to a green square near Coleridge, where she and her husband, Bob, live. With another sweep of her hand, Brummels shows the location of the nearby land they farm.
Brummels capped off the quilt with a green border to represent the cedar trees for which the county was named and a square in which "Nebraska the good life" was embroidered. It's an added detail to an idea that just popped into Brummels' head. She's not sure where the inspiration came from.
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"I just thought it up. A lot of quilts have flowers, something as a focal point. This has a lot of focal points," she said. "The more I worked on it, the more it came together."
Brummels, who grew up in Thurston County and has lived in Cedar County for 45 years, worked on the quilt for four or five hours most days from June 19 until July 14, finishing it just in time to enter it at the Cedar County Fair, which took place in Hartington July 18-22.
She didn't win a ribbon, but the quilt did generate some curiosity. Brummels ran into Cedar County Clerk Dave Dowling, and they thought it would be neat to show it in the courthouse.
The county's Board of Commissioners agreed, and for six weeks, the quilt hung near the courthouse's main entrance. The quilt was visible from Dowling's office, and it was not uncommon to see taxpayers stop in front of the quilt, obviously studying it to locate their property.
"We've had a lot of good comments on it. Kathy did a good job with it," Dowling said.
The quilt's run at the courthouse ended Sept. 13, when Brummels folded it and took it home. It might not stay there long. It's a quilt that should be seen, she said, and she's thinking about displaying it in the community building in Coleridge.
"It's something I thought you don't just put it on your bed and nobody ever sees it," Brummels said.
Given the interest the quilt attracted, could another county map be the subject of her next quilting project? Brummels quickly answered no — one was enough. She's got other ideas for her next quilts.
"I've already started sewing some others," she said. "I went to the State Fair and I got some inspiration."