Iowa State Fair Sew-In

In my previous blog I showed you some of the Best of Show quilts located in the Varied Industries building. Well, just down the hall from those quilts is the room for the State Fair Sew-In. In it’s ninth year, the Sew-In project is not new, but the creations volunteers will be crafting out of donated scraps of fabric will be completely original. Last year, the Des Moines Area Quilt Guild and trusted fair volunteers finished 437 quilts; since 2009 when the project began, 1,933 blankets have been quilted for Iowa youth. You don’t have to be a sewing expert to try quilting, and the public is welcome to visit the south hallway in the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building to be a part of the collective effort. Finished quilts are given to kids at agencies such as Child Serve, Angel Tree Camps, Children’s Behavioral Health Unit at Iowa Lutheran Hospital, and Lutheran Social Services of Iowa. Here is a short video clip about the sew-in from IPTV.It features the founder of the sew-in, Sharon Meisenheimer who was there sewing when we were! It is a good sized room with about 20 machines. Noelle and I were just passing through and we came to the end where a volunteer asked us if we wanted to help? Our family was at the fair just 2 days so we had limited time to see and do everything we wanted to. We asked if there was a time commitment and she replied that any amount of time would be great, so we decided we could probably get a quilt top done between the two of us. First on the list is to sign in.Next you choose your quilt top, which can be from pre-cut strips you choose yourself, or a kit you select. We chose a kit with frogs on the print fabrics and greens and yellows for the solids. The kit contains twelve, five inch wide strips that you sew together, the backing and the binding. It was all nicely organized and the gal that helped us gave clear directions.
Another gal, instructed us briefly on the machines, since we sew on a Bernia and these were all basic Janomes. After using them we appreciated our, needle down setting and the knee lift presser foot attachment on our Bernia at home!There is a constant stream of fairgoers passing by, we asked one of them to take our photo!Besides sewing the strips together, you also can pin the top, batting and backs together, machine quilt the tops with straight line quilting or attach the binding, you choose.

The completed quilt measure about 40 x 54, we timed ourselves and were done with this in 14 minutes. I am happy we did this during our day at the fair. We laughed and said, “Like, we don’t do enough sewing at home, we come to the fair and sew too!”The State Fair Sew-In appreciates any donations of fabric, here is a link with that information.Volunteers and donations.Let us know if you have been involved in this project, or other projects like this one. I am really glad we stopped to sew, now we know what it is about, and really, who doesn’t have 14 minutes to sew!

8 thoughts on “Iowa State Fair Sew-In

  1. Donna

    What a wonderful idea to get people interested in sewing and quilting but also for a worthy cause!!!! Do they have a group who finishes the quilting and binding? I am sure most quilts would not get completely finished. Are all the quilts strip quilts? I am so glad you posted this!!!

    1. Carla Post author

      Thank you again Donna for your comment. When we were there, most of the folks sewing were doing the machine quilting, we chose to do the top because we knew it would be quicker. I would guess when folks sign up for the 4 hour shifts they try to finish the quilts. They had many quilts waiting to be quilted and bound when we were there. You don’t even need to know how to sew, as there is a need for the pinning of the quilts to prepare for the quilting. I should have taken a photo of that too. The quilts are all the same, 12-5 inch strips pieced.

  2. Noelle

    I am surprised we have not taken part in this in previous years. If Victoria and Gene Anne were with, we could have done two in that time!

    1. Carla Post author

      Yes, I guess we did not know what it was all about and I thought you had to sign up in advance, but they took us that day! We will do it again next year.

  3. Kim

    What wonderful idea for a fair to have, and look at all those places that will receive those quilts. Great idea. At our local guild show we have a sit and sew for the public all day on Friday (sewing on featherweights) and we make simple blocks to go into Quilt of Valor quilts.

    1. Carla Post author

      Thank you Kim for your comment on your quilt guild’s sit and sew for QOV, and an awesome idea to open it to the public. I hope you have good turn outs for those days!

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