Quilt show takes over town

Gray Hughes

The 2020 Hill City Quilt Show is officially in the books.

The quilt show attracted 684 paying attendees (those 18 years and older) over the two-day event, said Mackenzie Swanson, director of the Hill City Arts Council.

“I think it went well,” she said. “We did have some hiccups, but that’s to be expected, and our volunteers were great.”

A total of 264 quilts were on display. The quilt show was held mainly in Gins Gym at Hill City Middle School. Quilts were also on display on Main Street in Hill City. A vendor mall was set up in Bob Burden Gym in Hill City Middle School.

While looking at the quilts in Gins Gym, Claudia Vecurevich said they were all “wonderful.”

“It’s always wonderful,” she said. “There are lots of amazing quilts, and this is always a great day.”

This year’s featured quilter was Sue Gies.

Gies sewed as a child and was involved in other artistic endeavors — such as oil painting and woodworking — but she said she planned on giving all of that up when she retired.

Then she found quilting 11 years ago.

“We moved, we retired, and a year later I kind of got bored. So I needed to dabble in something,” Gies said. “Somebody asked me to come to a guild meeting, so I did. I loved it. I took my first class doing a quilt, and started from there.”

After that, Gies said she would go to quilt shows and see all of the beautiful quilts and people working on them. She was drawn to patterns by JoAnn Hoffman, and Gies said with a laugh she became Hoffman’s stalker.

Gies said she was drawn to Hoffman’s patterns because they were longarm and intricate. That’s the type of quilting Gies said she saw herself doing.

Gies’ husband then bought her a longarm sewing machine, which kickstarted her quilting experience.

“You need to find a pattern you like, and I do lean toward (Hoffman’s) patterns because I love them. They are so detailed and beautiful,” Gies said. “The instructions on her patterns are fabulous. A good pattern designer is where it starts, and then the fabric and then I like to go to multiple fabric stores, but I do try to buy local before I go anywhere else. Then you get your fabric, and then you start piecing it.”

The time it takes to create a quilt varies, Gies said. Some go quickly, some take longer, but she said it all depends on how distracted she gets and then whether or not someone uses a domestic sewing machine, a longarm sewing machine or if someone else sews it all together.

Gies said she does a lot of detailed quilting because she likes the look, and she describes her quilting as “dense.”

For Gies, her quilting work is a labor of love.

“When the end product gets done, you step back and look at it and it is just fabulous,” she said. “A lot of it is color, too. It’s your color choice, how you pick it out, your pattern. But you’ve created art. And then you get to give it to your family. All of our kids go around and put their names on the back of the quilt so — someday — they get that quilt. Or they tell me and get it at that point.”

Gies said she was very honored and humbled to be named the featured quilter for this year’s quilt show because it is “unfathomable” how many good quilters are in the Black Hills.

Going forward, she wants to see more children get involved with quilting.

“We would teach them in a heartbeat. …Traditions get passed down,” she said. “Myself, personally, I would like to see kids get involved a little bit more so we don’t lose this art.”

It’s the kids that brought Katie Bates to the quilt show — helping kids, that is.

Bates is the chapter president of Rapid City’s Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to make sure no kids sleep on the floor.

The organization — funded 100 percent through donations — makes beds by hand and then gives them to a child who is without a bed.

Currently serving just the Rapid City area, Bates and her organization were invited to the quilt show to set up a bed for display.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace, too, was named one of the recipients of the Pillowcase Roundup, where Bates and her organization were given 60 hand-designed pillowcases to include with donated beds.

“It’s super awesome,” Bates said. “Part of it is getting the word out there that this mission is happening in our area, so to be asked to be recipients of programs like this makes me feel very glad that people are aware we are here and have heard about us through word of mouth or my Facebook page where I try to post a lot of the pictures of the things we’re doing, the kids we’re giving beds to. The fact that people are hearing about us and knowing about us is the goal. I am super happy we were asked to come here today and put this on display.”

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