Kathi Davis describes quilting as “her life.”
Davis started sewing by hand when she was knee-high and now does almost 90% of her sewing and quilting on a machine. In high school, she made all of her own clothes. She even made her own wedding dress and her daughter’s wedding dress.
Davis, a lifelong sewer and quilter, has been member of the DeKalb County Quilters Guild since 2006. She was the show chairwoman of the Harvest of Quilts 2019 in October at The Federated Church in Sycamore. The show celebrated the guild’s 40th anniversary.
The DeKalb County Quilters Guild was founded in 1979 with the mission statement, “To promote the fellowship and art of quilting.” The organization was founded with six members and now has about 50 members. In 1992, the guild became a nonprofit organization.
The group hosts the Quilt and Fiber Arts Show every other year, drawing quilters, fiber artists, vendors and visitors from across the country.
Through the years, members of the guild have completed projects to help the community, including making quillows – a blanket that folds into itself, becoming a pillow – lap robes for nursing homes and wheelchair pockets. Members also collect needed items for Safe Passage. One of organization’s largest projects is donating blankets to the neonatal unit at Rockford Hospital.
“We use leftover fabrics from large quilts or use some of the hundreds and hundreds of yards of baby fabric a benefactress in Minnesota had,” Davis said. “The blankets are 45 by 54 inches and are placed over a baby’s incubator. The quilt goes home with the baby. We have also made quilts for infants that die and for babies that are found after being abandoned.”
Meetings are held the fourth Thursday of every month, January through October, with an annual Christmas party in December, at the Federated Church, 612 W. State St. in Sycamore. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., beginning with a meet-and-greet, followed at 7 p.m. with business, a program and “Sew & Tell.”
Davis said one of her favorite aspects of the guild is the opportunity for socialization and making lifelong friends. She even invited all the guild members to her 60th birthday party.
“The social aspect is the best part, it’s really great,” she said. “I love that we don’t just sit around and sew; we talk and interact and work on projects together. We do a lot of different things as a guild and as friends.”
Susie Hughes became a member of the group in 1988, when she moved to a new house in Sycamore and wanted to learn how to make a bedspread.
“I took a class in Geneva at the Quilted Fox and decided to join the local quilting guild,” Hughes said. “For me, quilting is my getaway, it’s relaxing. I have four kids, 10 grandkids and 15 great-grandkids, and I try to make them presents.”
Pat Barger of Genoa joined the guild in 1986.
“I joined because I love the challenge of quilting, and I stayed because of the friends I’ve made,” she said.
Kathleen Wells of DeKalb has been a member of the guild for more than 15 years, and her daughter Christine Wells of Naperville joined two years ago.
“The group was always a part of my life, and now I’m a member myself,” Christine Wells said. “I think it’s wonderful. I love being inspired from the other members and seeing all of their creativity.”
Sharron Evans joined the guild a few months ago after moving to Somonauk from Bartlett. Evans made six “Dear Jane” quilts in six years, a style popularized by Jane Stickle’s 1863 quilt, made during the Civil War. Five of Evans’ quilts were on display during the October show, each with a different theme: Purple Passion, Crayola Jane, African Jane, Asian Jane and Newspaper Jane. Each of the quilts cost $2,000 to long-arm quilt. They are insured and have been appraised at more than $10,000 each.
“For me, quilting is therapeutic,” Evans said. “Quilting should be your therapy, it shouldn’t send you to therapy. And if you can also join a quilting group, have camaraderie, and get ideas and tips, I think that’s all you need in life.”
For information about DeKalb County Quilters Guild, visit www.dcqg.org.