Quilters from all over south central Wisconsin will gather in Wisconsin Dells this February to take part in the Quilts of Valor National Sew Day.
The national event takes place annually, with quilters gathering to create unique works of art that are awarded to veterans throughout the year. This year the event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 2, at the Kilbourn Public Library, 620 Elm St., Wisconsin Dells.
During the six-year life of the event in the Dells area, the regional branch of the Quilts of Valor organization has awarded at least one quilt to an area veteran on National Sew Day, with two quilts set to be awarded this year. The organization also awards quilts throughout the rest of the year as applications are received.
“These quilts are not a gift and cannot be bought, only awarded,” said event co-organizer Barbara Sigmund. “These are service members who have been touched by war and we could not find anyone more deserving.”
Blue Star mother Catherine Roberts founded the organization in 2005 while her son was serving in Iraq. Roberts started with a few friends, but the organization grew quickly. Since 2005 more than 200,000 quilts have been awarded to veterans throughout the nation, with Wisconsin veterans receiving 596 Quilts of Valor in 2018.
Sigmund and co-organizer Joann Van Wie volunteer with the organization year-round, but everyone is welcome at the Feb. 2 event regardless of experience. Local members of the organization have made packets with kits for quilting in preparation for the National Sew Day, with each packet containing the necessary pieces for a quilt.
“It looks complicated, but it doesn’t have to be,” Van Wie said. “Anyone who can sew at all is welcome to join.”
Quilters at the National Sew Day event in the Dells will select a pattern and start sewing, with separate stations set up for pressing and cutting. During the lunch break the group will award two Quilts of Valor to local veterans during a ceremony that Van Wie said is “emotional,” after which quilters will return to sewing.
Volunteers who do not know how to sew are also welcome to assist with registering volunteers, ironing, cutting, and helping with food. Sewists are asked to bring a sewing machine, red, white, blue, neutral, or patriotic fabrics, roller cutters, cutting mat, ruler, scissors, pins, and seam rippers, though there will be some materials and tools provided for those who are unable or forget to bring some items. The duo is hoping to have between 30 and 40 volunteers at the event.
“We hope everyone will come out and join us, this is a community effort,” Sigmund said.
Those interested in joining the group for National Sew Day can see Quilts of Valor on display at the Bank of Wisconsin Dells and the Kilbourn Public Library. Participants are asked to register by Jan. 31 at the bank, library, or by contacting Sigmund at 608-254-2658, or Van Wie at 608-393-0354. To nominate a veteran to receive a Quilt of Valor, apply online at qovf.org.