History of Hill Country Quilt Guild
In early spring of 1984, Joan Karaus and Maudie Jacobsen met and the idea of a quilt guild in Kerrville, Texas took root. The early meetings were under the guidance of Jerri Ray, the Kerr County Extension Agent. Four to ten women attended those early meetings. Members spread the word and In October 1984, when the Hill Country Quilt Guild was incorporated it boasted 43 charter members. The first program was on constructing a tote bag given by Ethel Howey from the San Antonio Quilt Guild. Charter member, Willoa Shults gave many programs on quilting techniques. Sometime in 1985, the guild took up a collection of $25 for a program to learn a stained glass quilting technique presented by Sibyl Brigance from San Antonio. But, primarily the guild members taught monthly meeting lessons at no charge to the guild.
In April 1985, sixteen members of the Hill Country Quilt Guild undertook as their first big project construction of a Texas sesquicentennial quilt. The quilt has 16 small blocks depicting historic buildings in Kerrville surrounding a large center square of symbolic Texas images. This quilt is an exemplary example of applique, embellishment, embroidery and quilting. The quilt was presented to the city of Kerrville at the Mistletoe Ball held at Inn of the Hills on December 6, 1985. The quilt was then displayed at various locations during 1986, and was entered in the San Antonio and Houston International quilt shows before coming to rest permanently in a framed case at the top of the stairs in the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library in Kerrville. The quilt guild also donated $300 to help defray the cost of the framed case.
The first quilt show was held at the Hill Country Arts Foundation July 1986 under the supervision of then president, Joan Karaus. A raffle quilt was offered in conjunction with the show. Antique and new quilts were on display and homemade items were for sale. The show earned over $1500 and with that the guild was firmly established.
Members of the Hill Country Quilt Guild, upon hearing of the need for small quilts for the San Antonio Ronald McDonald House, voted to donate 24 quilts to them. These quilts along with 200 small stuffed animals made by guild members were delivered to Ronald McDonald House in April of 1987. The guild continued to donate quilts and other items to Kerrville State Hospital, Any Baby Can, Women’s Crisis Council Center, VA Hospital patients, K’Star and Pregnancy Resource Center.
In the year 2000, twenty-nine members of the Hill Country Quilt Guild designed and made a quilt meant to represent a century of quilting design from older traditional blocks through the current, at the time, modern techniques. The “Millennium Quilt” was accepted into the Houston International Quilt Show that year.
The Hill Country Quilt Guild has met continuously since 1984. The early meetings were at the Dietert Claim, then St. Paul’s Methodist Church, First Christian Church, Masonic Lodge and now Zion Lutheran Church. In recent years, the guild has been nearly 250 members strong. Many of these members currently participate in many guild quilting bees. From that charter group of 43 Kerrville woman, the guild now includes members from many surrounding Texas Hill Country communities and as far away as Dallas and Houston areas. Guild members have continued to generously donate time and supplies to make and donate neonatal incubator blankets, pillow cases, memory pillows, Christmas stockings, animal beds for a local shelter and collect toiletries for the Hill Country Crisis Center. The “Giver Bee” meets twice each month to make quilts for charitable causes.
The Hill Country Quilt Guild has experienced tremendous growth since those early years of $25 programs and now supports programs and workshops by nationally known instructors. The budget for these speakers comes from proceeds earned from biennial quilt shows held in odd numbered years on Memorial Day weekend exhibiting nearly 200 quilts, retail vendors and offering quilts and other items for sale by the guild. In addition to monthly programs and workshops, the guild holds three retreats per year for member participation. Some members of the guild have continued to enter and win awards in Houston International Quilt Show and have had quilts on display at the Texas Quilt Museum and in traveling exhibits.