The Chapel's resident quilting group, the Kalico Kwilters, recently hosted a quilt show and raffle to showcase their stunning works of art. Dozens of their beautiful quilts were on display in main Sanctuary, 100% of the entry and raffle ticket sales were donated to the Chapel -- and a quilt was raffled off to a lucky winner! This talented group of lovely ladies meets every Wednesday from 9am-2pm, and anyone interested in becoming a member of the Kalico Kwilters is welcome to stop by the Chapel during their group time -- simply enter through the West entrance and go up the second level where they meet.
Interview with Kalico Kwilters ~ February 2022
Upon entering their workspace, the sense of friendship and community that one feels is almost palpable.On this particular morning, nearly a dozen women are seated around two quilting racks in the old upstairs Sunday school area of the Chapel on the Green, speaking quietly to one another as their fingers work needles slowly and surely through the layers of fabric in neat, measured stitches.Most of the women are of retirement age, and meet each Wednesday as members of the Kalico Kwilters, a group started in 1974 by local quilter and founder, Sally Cooper.
When asked how the group began, several women pointed affectionately to a framed photo on a nearby shelf and long-time member, Debbie Anderson, quickly volunteered a bit of history regarding the group’s founder. “Sally Cooper, who passed away in 2016, was a member of the Kendall County Home Extension program and had been taught quilting by her daughter. She had the idea to start a class at the Extension office to share her knowledge with others.By 1981, the group had grown so big that they needed a larger space, and settled in the Kendall County Farm Bureau building downtown in Yorkville.”It wasn’t until 2019 that the group found themselves again seeking a new “home.” At that time, the local Farm Bureau merged with the Grundy County Farm Bureau due to the declining number of farmers in both counties, and they began operating solely out of Morris. As a result, the Yorkville building was put up for sale, and the quilters were fortunate enough to find available space at the nearby Chapel on the Green.
Today’s group is 26 members strong - many who have learned the art of quilting by joining the Kalico Kwilters. They travel from Yorkville, Aurora, Sandwich, Plano, Montgomery, and as far away as Lisle, to meet on Wednesdays from 9:00 - 2:00.Their skill and dedication to the art of quilting can be seen in the beautiful quilts completed, and at any given time several quilts are stretched and in progress. Although some pieces are finished with a combination of hand-stitching and machine quilting, they do not utilize machines on site.Members with a personal quilt top ready for completion can include their name on a sign-up sheet and wait for their project’s turn in the queue. In addition, they often enjoy “show and tell,” which provides an opportunity to share pieces that they have completed at home.
Currently, one of the projects at hand is a traditional “Redwork” quilt, featuring red and white patterned quilt blocks combined with plain white squares embellished with red, hand-embroidered designs. Traditionally created as hand-drawn patterns of animals, birds, flowers, fruit, vegetables and people, this type of stitch work became popular in the 1800s when red dye finally became colorfast. On this particular quilt, Kalico Kwilters member, Anne Leimann, used a light box to help her trace the designs onto white quilt squares which were then embroidered in the traditional manner using a simple outline stitch, often known as a Kensington stitch, and later incorporated into the overall quilt top design. Several of the women quickly mentioned one other notable detail, “You know, by the way, Anne is 102!”
It does not take long to realize that this group is not just a club that meets once a week as a casual pastime.They are a “family” of strong women who have lived full lives, and who find comfort and a true sense of connection with one another as they come together and share a common passion.“We do not talk poorly about anyone,” commented one member, as another offered, “nobody expects you to be anything but who you are.”They provide a safe haven, and offer kindness and gentle support in the face of personal challenges, illness, loss of a spouse, or any number of life’s ups and downs.Some of their favorite memories involve grandchildren who have spent time with the quilting group, affectionately recalling one small child who, upon leaving, turned and said, “Goodbye to my 26 Grandmas!” Their unwavering pride in the friendships they’ve built together is a badge of honor that each wears proudly. They share not only sewing techniques, but also life experiences, memories, and dreams, and as member Virginia Biltgen summarized, “we learn something new every time we meet, and it’s the best therapy session you can find … quilting keeps me sane!”
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned quilter, Kalico Kwilters are always looking to bring new members into their fold! Anyone interested in learning more about quilting, or joining the group, is invited to stop by for a visit on Wednesdays at the Chapel on the Green in Yorkville. To reach the Kalico Kwilters’ dedicated work space in the upper level, enter through the west entrance doors on Church Street and go straight up the stairs. Turn right to access the stairwell to the second floor. The group also gladly accepts and appreciates donations of fabric.