116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMANA — Tradition binds the old and new worlds of the historic Amana Colonies, and this weekend, the fabric of both realms will be on display at the inaugural Quilt Amana.
Originally planned to debut last year, but sidelined by the pandemic, this quilt show and sale, sponsored by Heritage Designs Quilting & Needlework, will be filling the nearby Price Creek Event Center with a full spectrum of colors, designs and price tags. A weekend pass is just $5, but if you're looking to buy, more than 150 quilts will be offered for sale, from table runners and toppers that start at $15 to $30, to $1,000 quilts.
Even more will be on display, including antique quilts, traditional Amana whole-cloth quilts, baby quilts, wall hangings, and modern optical illusion- and whimsical designs. One-of-a-kind art quilts also will be available, including works by fiber artist and award-winning quilter Sue Kluber of Guernsey, who specializes in nature-inspired art pieces.
'There is literally there's something for everyone,' said Danita Simmons, 36, of Amana, manager of the Heritage Designs store, located by the Festhalle Barn and Price Creek Event Center. 'We have utilitarian quilts that you can buy for a reasonable price and take home and throw on your couch and cuddle and love — and they're very durable, fun pieces — up to our quilts that you would display on your wall.'
'We will have a few Quilts of Valor, because that is something that I'm very passionate about,' added Jane Bazyn, 67, of Victor. She said she has 'the best of both worlds,' because while she isn't a Heritage Designs employee, she works for the store, making quilts. 'I get all gamuts. I can make a reproduction quilt one week and the next week I'll be given batiks.'
Bazyn's passion project is making quilts for veterans, given mostly through the Victor American Legion post. More than 100 have been made, fulfilling the promise she made to herself to see that every veteran in Victor receives one.
She began in 2018, creating quilts to wrap around World War II and Korean War veterans, and the following year, Vietnam veterans were added. In the first two years, 65 were available, and 55 were accepted. When the pandemic subsides, another 35 are ready to be distributed to veterans of more recent conflicts, as well.
The recipients always are surprised, Bazyn said, but some have declined, because they felt they didn't deserve the recognition. She doesn't see it that way. She is adamant that all veterans, male and female, need to be honored.
Even one of her relatives objected, until she wrapped a quilt around him, and like so many before him, he broke into tears. She got teary-eyed just talking about it during a recent Gazette interview at Heritage Designs.
'This is an expression of love and care and art from someone, that is gifted to someone else,' Simmons said to Bazyn. 'That's huge — you're taking your talent and the thing you love most and you're sharing that with somebody else.'
The reactions keep Bazyn piecing and stitching these quilts.
'When I give a man a quilt, and he is so appreciative, whether it is the principle or whether it's the quilt, I'm just blown away by it,' she said. 'It gives you all the ambition to do more and more and more.'
Simmons credits Bazyn's personal quilt collection for sparking the idea for the upcoming show and sale.
'You can only have so many quilts in your possession,' Bazyn said with a laugh, 'because when you die, your kids don't want a hundred quilts.' She's planning to funnel her sales back into the valor quilts.
'My mom saw what Jane was doing,' Simmons said of her mother, store owner Chris Davies of Amana. 'She decided to take her desire to have a quilt show in Amana, because Amana is just such a prime, beautiful location, and it's our hometown. ...
And she said, 'Let's just marry these two ideas and help Jane sell some of these quilts so we can continue this effort to give valor quilts.' And it just all came into this culmination of creating Quilt Amana.'
Simmons and Bazyn have both seen an uptick in quilting interest during the pandemic, as men and women have been expanding their search for projects to do at home.
'It's interesting,' Simmons said. 'Sometimes the guys, just out of the gate, will go for something really challenging, like really geometric, and a lot of little pieces.
'People come at this from such different mindsets,' she added. 'It can be whimsical and artistic, or I've seen I've seen guys who just really excel at quilting. It's maybe less common, but it's definitely not strictly women quilters.
'There's some very, very high-level talented male quilters,' she noted, 'and some of our favorite fabric designers are men. We carry a lot of fabric designed by men. So I think it's another one of those misconceptions about quilting. There's so much art layered into it and you have to know a lot about math.'
'I was never very good at math,' Bazyn added, 'but I figured it out eventually.'
Bazyn became hooked after taking a class in Kalona 31 years ago, and said it's become her life, calling it 'a wonderful pastime.'
Simmons, however, is following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, the late Karen Oehler, who started her quilting business out of her home before opening a shop in 1976. In 2006, Heritage Designs moved into a renovated 1895 barn built for grain storage, with high ceilings and beams perfect for displaying quilts.
'When I was 7 or 8 I was hanging out behind the counter in the quilt shop, trying to convince my oma (grandma) to give me the scraps when they'd trim up a bolt of fabric and you have that little ragged edge. I'd pick those out of the trash and make these little dolls and little things out of all of this scrap. ...
'I've been a kid messing around in the quilt shop since I was old enough to remember, and now I manage the quilt shop. It's kind of exciting.'
'It all comes around,' Bazyn said.
'Yeah,' Simmons replied, 'and so it's exciting to see young people coming in with their grandma, teaching them how to sew, because that's how I learned. ...
It's exciting to see new generations of people getting started, and doing that, and working on things, and coming to pick out stuff for their first quilt.'
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• Where: Price Creek Event Center, 4709 220th Trl., Amana
• When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
• Admission: $5 weekend pass, free ages 18 and under; guests are asked to follow social distancing and mask recommendations
• Features: Quilt display, quilt sale, swatch sale, art quilts, Amana quilts; concessions available on site