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Local quilters guild to host quilt show at Hawkeye Downs

Photo courtesy of Suzanne Halley

Suzanne Halley, East Iowa Heirloom Quilters Guild publicity chair, teaches her granddaughter Ashlyn McGuire, 8, of Maple Grove Minn., to quilt during a quilters guild sewing day. The guild is hosting a quilt show Sept. 19-21at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids to share a love of quilts and ti raise funds for the guild’s educational programs and workshops.
Photo courtesy of Suzanne Halley Suzanne Halley, East Iowa Heirloom Quilters Guild publicity chair, teaches her granddaughter Ashlyn McGuire, 8, of Maple Grove Minn., to quilt during a quilters guild sewing day. The guild is hosting a quilt show Sept. 19-21at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids to share a love of quilts and ti raise funds for the guild’s educational programs and workshops.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Quilting is a skill that is becoming scarce.

To stir renewed interest in the art, the East Iowa Heirloom Quilters Guild will host a show from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 19-21 at Hawkeye Downs, 4400 Sixth St. SW.

The guild hosts a quilt show every two years, according to guild publicity chair Suzanne Halley, with the goal of opening the public’s eyes to the world of quilts.

“Our main objective is for people to come in, and learn about quilting and really see that quilting is an art form,” she said. “It’s just our way of sharing our skills and talents and to inspire other people.”

The weekend will include a display of about 400 quilts from members, 270 of which are part of a juried show in which quilts be judged in categories such as size, style and technique.

Additionally, Halley said many vendors will set up shop for the weekend, hawking quilt-related wares. Some skills and technique classes will be offered off site.

The money raised, Halley said, will help pay for speakers and workshops for its members to attend.

Halley said she got her start quilting when she was living in Singapore.

“My great-grandmother quilted, and so we had those quilts, but I didn’t really appreciate them until I lived in Singapore,” she said.

There, she met a group of quilters from Connecticut who opened her eyes to quilting as an art.

“It was very inspiring,” she said.

“I was a home ec major, so I had learned how to sew, but I was making clothes for all of my kids.

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“And when you’re sewing garments there is a certain amount of pressure because you have to be precise or the garment won’t fit. That pressure doesn’t exist in quilting. If you mess up a block, no one but you will know.”

One of Halley’s hopes for the show is that it will inspire others to pick up a needle and thread and bring new members to the group.

“We have all levels of quilters in our guild,” she said. “And, we hope many more will continue to join so we all can learn more tricks of the trade from each other. Many of us are teaching our granddaughters to quilt so we can pass our skills and stash on to them so they can continue the love of quilting when we are gone.”

The guild has about 300 members throughout the Corridor, Halley said. The group gets together periodically to quilt or attend a lecture or participate in a workshop.

“Quilting is so relaxing. It’s therapeutic,” she said.

“And it’s so rewarding to see something that you started with your own to hands from patches of fabric turn into this beautiful work of art.

“And I think I am healthier for it, and I know a lot of other quilters that would say the same thing.”

Aside from personal projects, the quilters have banded together on many occasions to make quilts for communities in need.

““We get contacted by shelters when they were getting low on quilts, or we get called by Habitat for Humanity when they build a new home — we will supply a bed quilt for each of the beds,” she said.

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They also have donated quilts to help victims of fires and floods. “About two years ago, when I was guild president, we gathered up about 350 quilts and my husband and I took them down to Texas for victims of Hurricane Harvey,” Halley added.

“We quilters love what we do, and a piece of our heart goes into all our quilts,” she said. “When we give them to family members or friends, we want them to enjoy them and know they are special to us. It is our legacy we are passing on.”

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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