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Stitching together a better tomorrow

When most people think about quilting they see it as an old-fashioned, dying art. But the Dixie Lee Quilters’ Guild in Fredericktown wants to change that.

Guild President Belinda Smith explained that the definition of quilting is “a creative way of putting material together to make a covering.” 

It is clear that the guild always has a charity project going on.

“Right now we are involved in making veterans quilts for the nursing home and we are also making 11 twin quilts for Camp Hope,” said Smith. “We will deliver them on Veterans Day.”

Mildred Porter added, “when you donate a quilt it means more than just making a donation because it is made with love.”

As part of their Christmas project they are creating sewing kits to donate to the 4-H girls who are wanting to learn how to sew. They discussed creative ways to house the kits last week. It was easy to see how much love they have for the art and for each other.

“We are trying to get new people into it. That is why we are going in conjunction with 4-H sewers,” Smith said. “We can go to 4-H and put a program on for them.”

Quilting skills were not something any of them had learned in school.

“This was a skill that was passed down from generation to generation,” Porter said. 

“This makes it even more important to introduce the next group of youth to quilting,” Smith added. “This is one of the goals of the Dixie Lee Quilters’ Guild’s sewing kit projects.”

“4-H was where I learned to embroidery,” Smith said. “Hopefully these kits will bring forward another generation of quilters.”

Smith also explained that if they make enough kits they will be donating any extras to Operation Christmas Child and then finally if any more are left over they will go to women in Haiti.

“Starting locally is our goal and then to spread out further and further,” said Smith.

The Dixie Quilters’ Guild have been around for 16 years and currently have 74 active members. They have monthly meetings at 6:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month and have an extra work session in the middle.

“This extra day allows anyone to bring projects in that they want to share with the group or need help solving an issue,” Smith said. “We have a very safe environment for quilters of all skill levels to come and be involved without any fears or judgment.”

Smith said that the club does many things to draw in members’ attention.

“We have a basket with a different theme every month. Each member who brings an item for the basket receives a ticket to win the basket and someone goes home with it at the end of the meeting,” Smith said.

“We also have members choice blocks, block of the month, fat quarter drawings, charm square exchange, and more events throughout the year. Every month we have anywhere from 40 to 70 members come to our meetings and our events are fun for them,” said Smith.

The membership has a wide net among the area.

“We have members from Farmington, Bismarck, Perryville, Festus, Arnold, Patton, Ste. Genevieve, Ironton, and all over,” Smith said “Our Vice President Diane Thompson does a great job bringing in speakers and creating retreats to draw in membership.”

“Quilting has changed over the years. My grandmother hand made quilts out of colorful flower sacks in the late 1920s,” Porter said, “now the possibilities are endless.”

Quilting can offer similar benefits as the adult coloring trend. They both create an environment perfect for mindfulness. This is when you shut out all distractions and focus on the moment.

Quilting allows you to think about each part individually or just get lost in the motions of stitching causing you to forget about the stress and worries of the day. Smith said it is relaxing to work with your hands and only focus on the quilt.

According to the American Psychological Association mindfulness has benefits which include stress reduction, improvements to working memory, increased ability to focus, less emotional reactivity, improvement in relationships, and much more. With society moving faster every day, mindfulness and the activities that help accomplish it need to be nurtured and kept alive.

“If you are on the fence about taking up the hobby this would be a great place to start,” Smith said “It’s fun the group gets to see a lot of old and new stuff.”

For more information about the Dixie Lee Quilters’ Guild you can contact Smith at 573-944-3906.

Dixie Lee Quilters' Guild President Belinda Smith (right) and member Mildred Porter show off a quilt made out of flour sacks in the late 1920s by Porter's grandmother.

Dixie Lee Quilters’ Guild President Belinda Smith (right) and member Mildred Porter show off a quilt made out of flour sacks in the late 1920s by Porter’s grandmother.

Member Kathy Browes works on sewing kits for 4-H sewers. 

Member Kathy Browes works on sewing kits for 4-H sewers. 

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com.

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