Calling it quilts: Offenburger, Sievers reflect on beloved hobby

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Carla Offenburger, who took to quilting in 2013, will exhibit four works in the newly revived Greene County Quilt Show Aug. 5-7.

Carla Offenburger, Greene County Medical Center’s director of community relations, organized three quilt show fundraisers for the hospital before she caught the quilting bug.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a quilter,” Offenburger said, yet she became a needlewoman and will display four quilts Aug. 5-7 at the recently revived Greene County Quilt Show.

Offenburger organized and managed large shows for the hospital in 2006, 2008 and 2010. This year she will be one of nearly 100 quilters who will exhibit more than 300 of their handiworks at the Greene County Fairgrounds next weekend.

The county quilt show is returning after a seven-year hiatus, and Offenberger said she’s excited about resurrecting a great community event, one that this time she’ll enjoy as a participant.

“I’m not an experienced quilter,” she said, recalling when the quilting bug bit her in 2013.

She was riding RAGBRAI, she said, the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, with her husband, Chuck Offenburger, an avid and well-known cyclist, when she decided she’d had it with the heat and the wind near Lake City and decided to cool off in a quilt shop.

“I’m going to take up quilting,” she told her husband, “. . . and get a ride home.”

Three years later, she’s completed six quilts, and every RAGBRAI week she works on a quilt while her husband pedals across the state. This year quilt is made of RAGBRAI T-shirts collected through the years.

Quilting has become her all-consuming hobby. “I’m an insecure quilter,” Offenburger said, “but I’m finally learning mathematics. Quilting humbles me, and I need that.”

One of her four entries in the show is a Christmas quilt she sewed at a retreat organized by Suzanne Sievers, coordinator of the Greene County Quilt Show and the owner of the Stitch, a quilting shop in Jefferson.

Offenburger finished the lap quilt/wall hanging in fall 2015, when she was recovering from a recurrence of cancer.

“I thought it was so beautiful that I couldn’t have it only in my house,” she said, “so it’s spending future holidays in my family’s homes, beginning with my mom’s, Sue Burt’s, house in Des Moines for Christmas 2016. From there, it will go to the next oldest family member — to my aunt, then to my sister and eventually to my youngest granddaughter.”

Sievers, who opened the Stitch in 2008, said the Greene County Quilt Show is being revived as a successor of the popular Heart of the Lincoln Highway Quilt Show.

“That show was always a big success,” she said, “and quilters have missed it since it was discontinued after 2009. We’re excited to once again welcome quilters and their friends and to showcase the variety of quilts they’ve selected to show.”

The hundreds of quilts will fill Clover Hall and the north commercial building of the fairgrounds, while vendors showcase their wares in the south exhibit hall in the bus garage. Quilts will be displayed in six categories: bed-size quilts; baby, lap or throw quilts; wall hangings; miniatures; table décor or miscellaneous; and wearables or accessories.

Holly Carter of Emmetsburg, a self-diagnosed “scrap quilt addict,” will talk about her lifelong hobby and the particular pleasures of scrap quilting. Her presentation, “Scrap Happens,” will be given each day at 1 p.m. in Clover Hall.

Four vendors — Quilter’s Portable of Mallard, the Quilt Shoppe of Alta, Iowa Falls Sewing Machine Company and Suzanne Sievers of the Stitch — will do product demonstrations Friday and Saturday every half-hour from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Sunday from 2:30-4 pm.

The Greene County Quilt Show is organized by the Greene County Chamber of Commerce and the Greene County Fair Association in collaboration with Sievers and the Stitch.
Exhibition times are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 and Saturday, Aug. 6 and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.

There will be a $5 per day admission charge and food will be available on-site.

“Quilters and folks who don’t quilt will enjoy seeing the show,” said Tori Riley, secretary of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Quilt Show committee. “There’s an amazing variety of patterns and color palettes. Some of the quilts are very traditional, while others are more trendy or whimsical. Everyone who comes to the show will see something they like.”

Riley said the goal is to make the Greene County Quilt Show a biennial event, with the next show already planned for August 24-26, 2018.

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Holly Carter will give a presentation, "Scrap Happens," at 1 p.m. daily at the Greene County Quilt Show Aug. 5-7.
Holly Carter will give a presentation, “Scrap Happens,” at 1 p.m. daily at the Greene County Quilt Show Aug. 5-7.

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