ST. GEORGE — In 1983, a small group of dedicated quilters from St. George gathered to form the Dixie Quilt Guild. Eleven founding members were soon joined by a host of other women who were interested in the art of quilting.
Today, almost 40 years later, the guild has grown to over 300 members who continue in the legacy of the group’s founders while pushing their art to new heights.
To an outsider, it would be easy to dismiss the group as just a sewing club. After all, the group meets monthly, except for two months in the summer, to share the latest sewing and quilting skills or tools; and for many, it was their love of sewing that drew them to the group in the first place.
That could easily be said for guild president Jeanette Ivie, who has been sewing, she said, for 22 years but has only been part of two quilting guilds throughout those years.
But the guild is about so much more.
With just over 300 members – half of whom are Southern Utah residents, the other half of whom are part-time residents or “snowbirds” – Ivie said it is easy to find like-minded people and form friendships.
For Ivie, who has only lived in Southern Utah a few short years, she said joining the guild was a way for her to get to know other people and share a common interest.
“You definitely have a community of like-minded people,” Ivie said.
In addition to their monthly meetings, the group has several other gatherings and activities including friendship groups, challenge quilts, block of the month challenges, quilt shows, show-and-tell opportunities, philanthropic efforts and an annual retreat.
Their annual retreat is held in Springdale at the end of February. There, about 100 guild members – mostly women, but a few men as well – gather with their fabric, sewing machines and rotary cutters to spend four days playing with needles and thread, guild member Rosemary Hargrove said.
Hargrove said the group kicks off their shoes and shares their quilting knowledge with many deep belly laughs along the way.
First-time attendee Colette Thomas said this year’s retreat gave her an opportunity to not only gather with a community of people who share her interests, but also learn from her peers.
“It was gratifying for me to see the number of people who do the same things I do,” Thomas said. “There was such a feeling of ‘let me show you what I am doing and how to do it.'”
Thomas has been a member of the Dixie Quilt Guild for about a year and the thing that continues to amaze her about its members is the incredible artistry that so many exhibit.
“I had no idea of the level of talent,” she said, adding that guild members continue to raise the level of fabric art, using both old and new techniques.
Quilters are hand-dyeing, painting and intricately beading their fabric squares, but they are also using computers to digitally print photos and other graphics onto their fabrics as well, Thomas said.
“It’s so much more than just sewing,” she said.
The guild also participates in several philanthropy programs, making quilts for hospital pediatric units among other things.
Recently, the group participated in a worldwide project to make quilt squares for the people of Australia who were affected by the the wildfires that ravaged the country.
The efforts were spearheaded by guild member Karen Jensen who had seen a post on Facebook from the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild in Wollongong, Australia.
The post asked for quilters around the world to send 12-and-a-half inch squares depicting trees, because so many of the country’s trees were burned, which could then be put together to make quilts for those who had been affected by the fires.
Thomas, who had just visited Australia for Christmas in 2019, took the plea back to the guild who in turn took it into their hearts and made about 155 quilt blocks.
The blocks will be sewn together into blankets containing 20 blocks each, Thomas said.
“A blanket is something that you can wrap up in and makes you feel good,” an emotional Thomas, said, adding that it will go a long way toward helping the people of Australia know that people are thinking of them during their devastation.
In all, the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild collected nearly 8,000 squares from all over the world.
The Dixie Quilt Guild meets monthly from September through June. More information about membership and activities can be found here.
“It’s just a fun, fun group to be in,” Ivie said.
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