Celebrating OCQG's 40th Anniversary in 2021

Each month during the 2020-2021 membership year, we are running short articles in the Old Capitol Quilters Guild newsletter featuring interesting events, personal stories, or nuggets of inspiration preserved by previous OCQG Historians. Some will highlight how much things have changed, while others will show how much is still the same. We are also posting them here to make them readily accessible to all. The most recent article will appear near the top.

Don't miss "Members Remember,"
the video oral history recorded in late 2020
to celebrate the Guild's 40th anniversary.

Watch it on You Tube at https://youtu.be/9gA1pm_CyS4

From the February 2020 OCQG Newsletter

Quilts for the Coralville Public Library

Service to the community has taken many forms over the years for the Old Capitol Quilters Guild. Occasionally we mark an achievement or anniversary of some kind. In the November 2020 newsletter, we focused on a quilt honoring Iowa City’s sesquicentennial completed in 1989. This month we’re highlighting quilts made when the current Coralville Public Library building opened in 1987. The quilts were made specifically for permanent display in the Schwab Auditorium, the largest of the meeting rooms in the library. It’s possible that you may have attended meetings in this space – including several OCQG workshops – without realizing the connection to the Guild.

A plaque on the wall reads: “The quilts were created by the Old Capitol Quilters Guild for the new Coralville Public Library building in 1987. Jean Schwab and Pat Dee chose the colors for the quilts, and the pattern is called the Coralville Star. Each member of the group pieced a block and others did the quilting.” Jean Schwab helped start and became the director of the Coralville Public Library, serving until her retirement in 1991. Pat Dee also helped found the library and was a long-time volunteer and trustee.

The OCQG committee that organized the effort included Karen Ackerman, Darlene Chapman, Marge Reese, Geneva Shannon, Sharon Stubbs, and Barb Voss. They designed the “Coralville Star” block which resembles the traditional Iowa Star block pattern with a little extra twist in the center. The committee then prepared and distributed fabric packets to OCQG members that included the pattern, templates for each piece, and enough fabric to complete one block. Each quilt was hand-quilted by members. We’ve posted a copy of the project instructions online.

Guild members contributed enough blocks to create 1 larger wall quilt with 18 blocks, 4 medium wall quilts with 9 blocks each, and 1 smaller quilt with 4 blocks, The Guild also purchased the rods from which the quilts have hung for the last 34 years.

Six quilts created by OCQG members in 1986-87 still hang in the Schwab Auditorium of the Coralville Public Library.

Pam Ehrhardt during a workshop presented by Candyce Grisham in May 2019 with two of the OCQG Coralville Star quilts behind her.

Days for Girls session in January 2019 held in the Schwab Auditorium with several of the OCQG Coralville Star quilts visible on the wall.

From the December 2020 OCQG Newsletter

Holidays and the Winter Season


As we look through the binders assembled by earlier OCQG Historians, it’s clear that every year about this time, quilters get busy making quilted gifts for themselves and for others and sewing decorations for their homes. Occasionally members of the Guild have been called upon to contribute to exhibits or displays.

In 2006 a nationwide call went out from Washington DC asking makers of all kinds in each state to send handmade ornaments to decorate a display of 50 state trees near the White House. The October OCQG newsletter that year reported that the Guild would be sending 42 ornaments (4”x4” quilted squares) for the Iowa tree thanks to 16+ members, several of whom have remained active for many more years: Helen Dietrich, Barb Fisher-Krueger, “Diedre Fleener’s small group,” Connie Funk, Jean Hospodarsky, Twila Meder, Linda Nudd, Nancy Rehling, and Barb Voss. 

Shannon Hunger, the local coordinator for the effort, said that the DC “organizer for the state trees has sent word the Iowa tree was the favorite of the people who set up the display in the part near the White House.”

Although the December 2006 newsletter carried three photos of the ornaments, it was printed in black-and-white. So far we haven’t found any color versions. The February newsletter also noted that the tree organizers in DC would be sending a photo of the Iowa tree that would be “published on the website soon,” but if that happened, we no longer have access to it.

Other ways we’ve had holiday and winter fun over the years. 

  • The creative organizers of the February Service Days in 2001 and 2002 (including Janann Schiele, Twila Meder, and Diane Lohr) were inspired by the coming Winter Olympics as they made their plans for the “Winter Sewing Olympics.” All participants were organized into teams that worked together to create the quilts. In 2002, teams of five were encouraged to “skate through 9 patches, race to the design wall, and cross the finish line with tops ready to be quilted.”​


  • Make it/take it sessions for Christmas ornaments can be a quick but productive way to spread some holiday cheer. A “Cathedral Window Christmas Ornament” designed by OCQG member Kim Haigh had special appeal, appearing first at the December 1990 evening meeting (led by Sharon Somer), again during an activity carnival in June 1994, then for a third time at the December 2004 evening meeting. It’s worth repeating again, so we encourage you to download the pattern from the website.​

  • For many years, Winter Retreats have been held in February. They have been a great way to get away after the holidays and focus on some relaxing time with our sewing machines and quilting friends. Twila Meder even made a small quilt to celebrate the one in 2000. 

From the November 2020 OCQG Newsletter

Quilters Helped Celebrate Iowa City’s Sesquicentennial in 1989

When Iowa City celebrated its Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) in 1989, members of the quilt guild, then known as “Quilting for Fun (QFF),” helped commemorate the event by creating a quilt with images from the city’s past. In the photo, below, you can see Old Capitol and the county fair in the large center block, surrounded by landmarks such as “Lean-back Hall,” an early tavern (3); Terrell Mill (6); a Mormon Handcart (8); the Coralville School House (9); and the Black Angel (10).

Photo (left) of quilt created by the members of "Quilting for Fun" to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Iowa City in 1989.

The quilt came together very quickly. In February 1989, QFF received an invitation to display at least two quilts for the Iowa City Sesquicentennial celebration that was scheduled for May 4-5-6. QFF member, Marge Reese, designed the blocks and got started on the applique work right away. By late March the QFF newsletter reported that the quilt top was ready for quilting (by hand, of course!). On April 10 they set up a quilting frame and invited QFF members to bring their own needles and thimbles to help. By the time the next newsletter was distributed a month later, all the quilting was done and only the binding was left to finish.

The quilt was displayed at the Johnson County Heritage Museum during the celebration in early May and later donated to the Museum by the QFF.

Help us learn more about this quilt!

The accounts in the QFF newsletters only talk about the process of getting the work done but not about the content of the quilt. The one image of it preserved in the Guild’s history notebooks (see above) is not easy to read.

1. Can you identify any of the other images? (We’ve posted a copy of the scanned photo on the website to make it easier for you to zoom in on details.)

2. Do any of our current members remember working on the quilt and/or do you have a better photo of the quilt?

3. If the OCQG undertakes a similar project for the city's Bicentennial in 2039, which of these historic images would change?

Please contact the History Committee if you can provide answers (or guesses?) to any of these questions!


Old Capitol Quilters Guild
Email: info@ocqg.org       

Mailing address: 761 Camp Cardinal Blvd # 2208, Coralville, IA 52241

Most of our monthly meetings are held at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2301 East Court Street, Iowa City. In response to the COVID-19 virus we have cancelled our in-person meetings through January 2022. We are still meeting monthly via Zoom and welcome new members. Check the Upcoming Events page for details.