Friends & Neighbors: Marshall citizen makes quilt for Bob James Jazz Fest

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Norma Jeane Ferguson shows the quilt she made in her quilting studio in the basement of her home. The quilt is helping raise funds for the 2014 Bob James Jazz Festival by selling raffle tickets. The winner will be selected on Saturday, May 17. (Jesse Brown/Democrat-News)

Norma Jeane Ferguson, a retired teacher who taught in Sweet Springs, keeps herself busy engaging in two activities she still enjoys: music and quilting.

Ferguson is a member of the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra with her husband, Charles, and a member of the Country Patchwork Quilt Guild that meets for the second Tuesday of each month (except June) at Cumberland Church.

Ferguson said her quilt guild makes a quilt every year as a fundraiser for their annual quilt show held in September. She said she decided to do the same for this year's fourth annual Bob James Jazz Festival.

"It combines the two things I really enjoy which is music and quilting. I thought, well, I can make it as a fundraiser and sell raffle tickets," Ferguson said. "... That was the idea that started it. So I just made the quilt myself. I got the pattern out of a book. I actually called the publishers to let them know I was doing it and got the okay, no problem there."

The quilt is 79 by 98 inches, a queen size, and uses an Eleanor Burns pattern from her "Quilt in a Day" books, specifically "Irish Chain in a Day." Ferguson's friend, Beth Chase, collaborated by doing the quilting and they both used music motifs such as eighth notes, quarter notes and a treble clef. Ferguson said there are three layers in quilting: the top, back and the layer in between. The quilting, or stitching, is what holds the quilt together, which Chase completed.

Norma Jeane Ferguson points out the intricacies of the stitching that her friend Beth Chase displayed on the quilt. (Jesse Brown/Democrat-News)

Ferguson also called Henry Somero, Bob James' personal and professional manager, to get approval for turning the quilt into a fundraiser.

"She sent pictures of it and it was absolutely, incredibly beautiful," Somero said. "Of course, Mr. James is willing to do anything to help out his hometown Marshall, Mo. He is thrilled with the way it turned out and he's very excited also for the 2014 Bob James Jazz Festival."

To give the quilt a little something extra, Ferguson decided to put a nice finishing touch to it.

"I sent the label to Bob James and he autographed it and then I put that on the back of the quilt," Ferguson said. "So I can actually advertise it as a autographed Bob James quilt."

Ferguson said she has been involved with the festival since its inception about four years ago. Her husband Charles was asked to serve on the board of the Marshall Cultural Council because he's a music teacher and also conducts for the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra.

The back of the quilt shows where it was signed by Bob James himself. Norma Jeane Ferguson decided this action was the finishing touch to the quilt. (Jesse Brown/Democrat-News)

"He was always busy and couldn't go to the meetings so he would send me as his proxy," Ferguson said. "So I was always going to the meetings and finally I said, 'I might as well be involved if I'm going to always be at the meetings and I really enjoyed it."

This year's Bob James Jazz Festival is on Friday, May 16, and Saturday, May 17. Ferguson said she'd like to raise a $1,000 with the quilt, but has only managed to raise about $400 so far.

"With the bad weather, some of the concerts around recently have been canceled," Ferguson said, about events where she would try to sell raffle tickets. "I'm going to be taking it to Kansas City to the Gem Theater, I guess, in April."

A raffle ticket can be purchased for $1 or six raffle tickets for $5. Bob James himself will announce the winner at the Saturday, May 17, concert at Bueker Middle School. Participants don't need to be present to win the quilt.

Contact Jesse Brown at

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  • Norma,

    Great project and idea! Wondering how from Lees Summit, I can buy a raffle ticket? I do plan to be in Marshall before the Festival. Is there an outlet for the raffle tickets?

    Lynda (Page) Bergman

    -- Posted by lpbergman on Thu, Feb 20, 2014, at 9:27 AM
  • Thanks for the nice article about Norma Jeane's cool project!

    I only want to add that not only has she been involved in the Bob James Jazz Festival -- she's been a key player. Last year, she was the leader of the committee and was responsible for bringing Mike Henderson and his band to Marshall. Those of us who attended the concerts are sure grateful for that!

    Her efforts, with generous help of numerous downtown businesses, also made the Marshall square a visual representation of "Marshall is Music" prior to the 2012 jazz festival.

    Thanks NJ, for this latest contribution!

    -- Posted by ewcrump on Thu, Feb 20, 2014, at 9:20 PM
  • Lynda and for any other reader that would like to know,

    A message from Norma Jeane:

    Actually anyone who wants to send me a check (written out to me) for tickets may do so. They can trust that I will put the correct number of tickets in the drawing. Send to 1644 Colby Ave. Marshall, MO 65340

    If they are attending the concert, I will have the quilt set up and will be selling last minute tickets there also.

    Having them before the concert will alleviate a crowd at the raffle table.

    Thanks, Norma Jeane

    -- Posted by Jesse Brown on Fri, Feb 21, 2014, at 8:01 AM
  • *

    This is such a unique quilt, should easily raise $1,000.

    -- Posted by MO Girl on Wed, Jan 14, 2015, at 8:56 PM
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