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By Sally Clouse

In May of 1995 Shirley Arthur and a group of quilting friends placed an ad in the local paper inviting quilters who were interested in starting a quilt guild to meet at the Hayden Lake library. Twenty nine people showed up and by the end of the meeting, North Idaho Quilters was born.

The guild met monthly at the Kootenai County Extension building located at Dalton and Gov't Way in CDA. These ladies were go-getters and in four months they had:

  • Named the newsletter “A Common Thread” with the tag line “Our love of Quilts is what brings us together!”

  • Sent out a survey for input on numerous ideas to incorporate into the guild

  • Established bylaws, with the help of Lois Grutta, and a mission statement to promote quilting and improve quilting skills among its members

  • Established General (business) Meetings on odd numbered months and Activity Meetings on even numbered months

  • Held a Logo Block contest which Karla Harris won. The rest of the blocks submitted were assembled into a quilt top by Joan Domangue and hand quilted by members. The quilt is known as the Logo Quilt

  • Put forth a slate of officers

  • Started a raffle quilt

  • Ran a membership campaign which was led by Sally Clouse

  • All before the first official meeting!  

The guild’s first official meeting was Sept. 25, 1995. Officers were elected and the bylaws were adopted. All members who joined during the first year were charter members - there were 88. In 2.5 years membership had grown to 171.

There have been 15 presidents with some serving 2 consecutive terms and Carlene Litz serving in 2006 – 2007 and again from 2013 to 2015.

Membership dues started at $15 and were raised to $20 in Sept. 2004 and to $25.00 in 2016.

The General Meeting has been held at four locations: Kootenai County Extension Building until Jan. 1996. Then the meeting was moved to Christ the King Lutheran Church on Penn. Ave in CDA; in Nov. 2000 it was moved to Lake City Senior Center on Lakewood Dr, CDA. This seemed to be working well until May 2007 when we arrived at the center only to find they had also scheduled Bingo! With the help of one of our members that meeting was moved to Lake City High School. This prompted the board to look for a new meeting location and in Jan. 2008 we moved to our current location. Only 2 meetings have been cancelled, both due to weather.

Activity Day was originally designed to move from one community to another to involve others and to be held on Sat. so our working members could attend. The first Activity Day was held Oct. 28, 1995 at the Bayview Community Center with 30 in attendance. In 1998 the Vice President position was created and put in charge of Activity Day. Our first Activity Day at Friends Church in Hayden was in Dec. 1998 and Activity Day was moved to American Legion Post 143, in Post Falls in 2016. The fellowship and potluck have always made this a popular activity.

The guild has produced 16 raffle quilts. In the beginning a quilt was made and raffled every year. In 2001 it was decided that the raffle quilt would be made every other year to correspond with the quilt show. Several of the quilts were made by members who paid $2 for a packet containing the block pattern and some fabric. Once the block was made and turned in, the member received their $2 back. Several small groups have also taken turns making the quilts.

The NIQ library checked out its first books at the March 1996 meeting. Once membership reached 100 members we applied to That Patchwork Place Pub. Co. to receive 1 free book a month for a year. Other books have been acquired through donations from members and some speakers or purchased by the guild. Our first quilt retreat was held at Lutherhaven in Sept. 1996. The retreats were held both spring and fall and were well attended until 2003. Interest waned and they were done away with until 2011. Since then we have held a retreat each fall.

The Basket Auction and potluck was started in July 1998 as a fund raiser to help pay for guest speakers and have continued every year since. Because the guild was on a tight budget for several years, members brought their potluck dish, their own plates and silverware! Over the years the items have varied from baskets and small quilts, to larger quilts and to a weekend get-a-way for a group of friends. Other fundraising activities have included logo pins, a small Christmas tree decorated with hand-made ornaments; fat quarters for sale for $1, silent auctions, and the cookbook.

Besides our quilt show the guild has organized quilt displays for the public several times. Mother’s Day of 1997, quilts hung at Duncan’s Garden Center. We also displayed quilts for Mother’s Day at the Silver Lake Mall in 1998 and 2000. The first place quilts from the 2001 NIQ Quilt Show were hung at the Coeur d’Alene Library. In 2014, Idaho themed quilts were displayed at the JACC in Post Falls, and several of those were chosen to be hung in the Capitol Building in Boise. And this fall we will have a display at Hayden City Hall.

In accordance with our mission statement to promote quilting, NIQ has made efforts to teach children about sewing and quilting. In the fall of 2007 the guild helped Sorenson School make an All School Quilt. We have supported the local 4-H program by donating a new serger and in Feb. 2009 we hosted a youth sewing day where 32 children made over 60 pillowcases (one to keep and one to donate to the ConKerr Cancer Project). Later that same year the Hayden Library invited the guild to host a Sew Day for kids. Again, pillowcases were made by 14 children. In 2014 NIQ hosted its first Youth Sewing and Quilting Camp. 30 children from age 7 to teens participated in the three day event. It was such a big hit that a second Quilt Camp has been scheduled for 2015.

In helping its members improve their quilting skills, local, national and international teachers have been invited to present programs and workshops for the guild members to participate in. In July of 1998 the guild hosted “Quilt Kamp” at Templin’s Resort in Post Falls, where Sharyn Craig provided two workshops and was the featured speaker at a dinner. Ala Carte Night has featured guild members teaching specific techniques.

NIQ has put on 10 quilt shows. The first show was in June 1997, only a year and a half after the guild started. Even that first show featured 300 quilts. From the start the guild decided that the quilt show would be a biennial event and viewer’s choice, allowing for a very well planned show and a large and varied collection of quilts. Each show has featured a quilt artist and most have been members of NIQ. A quilt challenge has also been part of each show. Members are given a theme and guidelines and amazing quilts have been created. The quilt show was held at Lake City High School in 1997, North Idaho College in 1999 and 2001, and Kootenai County Fairgrounds since then. 2005 was the first time the Mayor’s Award was given to a quilt in the show. 2015 saw the Mayor’s Award changed to the Featured Quilter’s Award. In 2007, the Ironman bicycle course made it a bit tricky to get to the quilt show on Sunday, so the 2009 show moved to Friday – Sat. to avoid this conflict. Another highlight of our quilt show is the beautiful handmade ribbons that are awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place viewer’s choice.

Quilters are generally very generous people. Thus we have a Community Service committee to help meet the needs of the surrounding communities. The committee was guided by six women for five years, laying a strong foundation of supporting local charities. The first 13 community service quilts were made of 6” squares cut from scraps and used clothing. A second round of quilts was made from bummer blocks. Besides supplying local charities with quilts, NIQ has supported the fundraising efforts of several charities and the Festival of Trees (since 1998) by providing high quality quilts for them to raffle or auction. In May 2000 NIQ was one of four honorees in Idaho for “Make a Difference Day,” an award given by USA Today. After receiving a large amount of donated fabric in 2006, a special community service sew day was held at the Cloverleaf Grange in Post Falls, where guild member cut, sewed, layered and finished quilts. A lot of work and a huge success. In Jan. 2005 Bear Paw Quilting extended an invitation for community service to meet and use its classroom once a month to work on quilts. In 2014 quilts were provided to the nurse’s stations at every public school and in 2015 community service is providing quilts to veterans at the Lewiston Nursing Care Facility. Several members have also made quilts for Quilts of Valor. Over the twenty years of the guild’s existence, more than 1793 quilts have been made through community service!

Thank you to those who have volunteered to lead this guild by serving as a board member or a committee chair. Your time, commitment and leadership are appreciated. Thanks also to all our members through the years. Your ideas, hard work and generosity have made an impact on this guild and our community.  

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