Love of quilting stitches Emma Creek Quilt Guild together through pandemic

By Jackie Nelson

This winter, quilt enthusiasts have the opportunity to wrap themselves up in a long-standing group, the Emma Creek Quilt Guild. Established by fewer than a dozen avid quilters in May of 1986, the group has since folded in over 50 members.

Hesstonian Becky Herron said the group is not limited to just quilters.

“If you are a lover of historical quilts and never sewn an inch in your life, it’s a place to come,” she said.

While the group does focus on constructing quilts, the educational programming spans from technical techniques to historical items.

The group traditionally meets at the Hesston Area Senior Center the fourth Tuesday of each month. But, Herron said, as with nearly every other organization, meetings have gone digital.

“We’ve had external programming. A gal from Nebraska did a program for us virtually, which is great,” she said.

Herron said the Zoom meetings, while not the same as seeing and feeling quilts up close and in person, “everyone got to have a front-row seat.”

Herron said taking the meetings online has been an advantage for younger quilters who are more comfortable with technology. It has also stretched the guild to expand programming and get creative with all types of definitions of quilts.

A quilt donated by Lois Stoltenberg, with pattern and fabric by Kim Diehl, is up for an opportunity drawing by the Emma Creek Quilt Guild. The quilt “On The Fence” measures 86×87.

“We did barn quilts, and I think about everyone in the guild has a new barn quilt on their house or in the backyard. We were planning on this anyway, but it was a nice one; we could still kind of see each other but not within the confines of a building,” she said.

In more traditional form, trunk shows are part of the guild’s repertoire. Recently, a speaker brought in over 100 quilts featuring panel pieces.

“Panels have been around for years but are the big rage in the fabric world,” she said.

Herron added there are a variety of quilters in the group, from a pair of sisters who enjoy hand quilting, long-arm quilters, to custom machine quilters to Herron herself, who said, “I have so much fabric in my library, I don’t have time to quilt by hand […] I quilt by check, and that’s fun.”

No matter how one likes to quilt, Herron said it “is a form of art” that allows people to challenge themselves or take on projects purely for fun.

“It can be very challenging; it can be very rewarding; it is very much a therapy, if you want to call it that. You sit down and you can push the world out,” she said.

Herron added the group stays connected and up-to-date with each other’s triumphs and frustrations through show and shares during meetings, which can expand beyond quilting.

“We always have concerns with people we know and in the guild. It really is a very close group and very supportive,” she said.

Community members can also lend the group support, with two opportunity quilts up for grabs. One, a full-size quilt was donated by member Lois Stutzenberg, the other was a donated top the members worked together on as a guild project. The drawing will take place on Jan. 26, and tickets can be purchased by contacting the Emma Creek Quilt Guild’s Facebook page. Tickets are $1 each.

Proceeds from the opportunity drawing will help offset the costs of programming for the guild in 2021. Herron said there is already a lineup of educational sessions, travel and shows.

Herron is hosting the group’s January program on applique.

“You’re always learning or sharing things. Someone will see something in a quilt shop and ask ‘How’d you do that?’ When you like to do something, you like to be able to share it with other people; you find joy in it and hope they do, too,” she said.

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