IOWA CITY — Zippers with no openings, buttons that don’t hold fabric together and even a small plush dog sewn inside a pocket all serve an important purpose on a “fidget quilt” designed to lay on the lap of a dementia patient and provide comfort when they feel the various textures.
Fidget quilts are just one type of project that the roughly 150 members of the Old Capitol Quilters Guild make year-round to help the community. Between July 2015 and September 2016, members of the organization made almost 150 quilts to donate to domestic violence survivors, as well as organizations like the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center in Iowa City.
Members also make burp cloths, bibs and totebags.
Additionally, members often complete special projects like quilts to donate to charity auctions, place mats for Meals on Wheels and pillow cases for Shelter House in Iowa City.
“Basically, there’s a need out there and it’s something that we can do as a nonprofit organization. It’s a service that we provide and a lot of these places come to rely on our donations,” said Nancy Johns, a member of the Old Capitol Quilters Guild Service Committee.
Members mostly work on their service projects outside of the guild’s regular monthly meeting times, which often include educational presentations rather than time for quilting. Most service projects can sometimes take between 30 and 50 hours or more to complete for a lap quilt and members often do the work at home with purchased and donated material’s from the organization’s supply closet.
“You have to really want to do it because you take all this fabric and cut it up in small pieces and then you sew it all back,” Johns said. “It’s fun and it’s a nice way to share with other people.”
Once the projects are done, Service Committee members like Johns, Kathy Becker and Sharon Halverson collect them and bring them to the organizations that need them. While members said they don’t necessarily have one favorite project, they said the group receives plenty of thank-you notes from those who receive their quilts and other donations.
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Becker is currently collecting many of the items at her home before they’re donated so they can be displayed at the guild’s Quilt Fest scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 2-3, at First United Methodist Church, 214 E. Jefferson St., Iowa City.
Hundreds of handcrafted quilts are to be displayed during the show, which runs from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is a freewill offering and the event includes a silent auction of quilted items, gift baskets and door prizes and activities for children and families. For more information, go to ocqg.org.
“It really is an art form,” said Johns. “We always think of utility quilts but it’s really an art form because you have to be very creative to be able to put a quilt together.”
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