Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Lived to Tell About It

This past Saturday I was the guest speaker at The Quilted Steeple quilt/craft retreat center. 

Yes you heard me right, guest speaker. Not quite sure what I was under the influence of when I said yes. For those of you who know me I am sure you are scratching you head and asking why.

I have been told when you speak in front of people it will be easier if you imagine the audience in their underwear. 

As I looked over the crowd I saw that
most of them were my age... or older.
I have seen myself in underwear...
 it is quite frightening - okay forget that plan. 
Plan B. Oh dear I don’t have a Plan B. 
With no plan B, I had no option 
other than to muddle through the little chat. 
So muddle I did. 
And I lived to tell about it.

The Quilted Steeple is a country church and parsonage built in 1897. 

This is the church Julie Dodds and her family attended all of Julie's life.
It is just up the road from their farmstead.
In 2006 the church and it's contents came up for sale.
Julie attended the auction with the intention of buying the organ for her mother.
Her mother, Helena played the organ at the church for 60 years.
Julie bought the organ - and the church.
At the time she had no plans for the church but could not bear to think what might happen to the church if she did not buy it.
Julie decided to turn the church into a quilting/crafting/just get away retreat center.

She and her family members went to work refurbishing the little church and parsonage. The parsonage has 5 bedrooms each with 2 beds.

This is the Sandy Gervais room featuring quilts made from my Flirt line of fabric.

I call this the book room. 
Love the table made out of old encyclopedias.
There are shelves made of books, 
which you cannot see in this picture.
The whole house is furnished eclectic style
 with a treasure trove of found objects.

The church has two sleeping areas.

One is in the choir loft.
As a child I was very intrigued by the choir loft.
How fun would it be to sleep in the choir loft?

A fellow Iowa designer, Leanne and her daughter Kaytlyn 
from The Whole Country Caboodle vended at the open house. 
You can find Leanne here, here 
and here are some more picture from the day.

Their vending was set up in the little Sunday school room.

This was the sky the day of the open house - a perfect day for an outdoor quilt show.
The outside edges of the property are lined with trees.
To me they just said ...string some rope and hang some quilts. 
Bruce and I hung 500 feet of rope.

 Lori, Lois and I  hung 68 of my quilts on the rope.
 We started at 6:30 in the morning.

We also draped them over the balcony,

over the pews and hung them on the church walls.

In all 106 of my quilts were displayed.
All designed by me, made of fabric designed by me.

I always pass out candy when I make an appearance.
I was looking around to see what I could use for candy bowls when a thought popped in my head.
I wondered if the offertory plates were still at the church.
A quick email to Julie confirmed they were still at the church.
Perfect I will use them for candy dishes.
The offertory plates made me think of the Doxology, which I was soon singing in my head.
Then another thought popped in my head.
Could we rewrite the words to fit a "quilting" crowd.
Another email to Julie asking if she could rewrite the Doxology.
She put her mother Helena on it.
In less than a 1/2 hour Helena had rewritten the words.
At the "New Church of Quilting", offertory is done in a different way.
When we pass the plates, instead of putting something in, you get to take candy out.

While Lori and Lois passed the plates 
Helena played the organ and sang the Quilter's Doxology.
Tune Doxology--------------
Praise God for whom all quilters sew

To share their love with all they know
Their hands and heart are busy too,
to share a "stitch in time" with you.

By Helena-------
It is estimated that Helena has played 
the Doxology about a 3,500 times.
Here are few random pictures from the day.

Julie holding up the lamppost. 
Well not really but that is what it looks like.
 I think she is actually greeting everyone 
and making sure they sign up for all of the great door prizes.

 Checking out the on point mitered binding.

Me reconnecting with a lady, who hand quilted 
one of my very special quilts, 
which was a gift from my husband. 
I blog about the quilt here.

Look how happy the both of use are.

Checking out those big buttons.

A young shopper admiring a Snap Pop fat quarter bundle.
I don't know who you are, but I would love to 
see a picture of whatever it is you make using the bundle.
Please email me a picture of your finished project at

Two friends reading the sayings on the Dear Friends quilt.

Julie...still holding up that lamppost.
 I  am quite sure it is firmly cemented into the ground...but I could be wrong.

The happy winner of the sewing machine.

The wild turkeys decided to pose 
in front of my Gobble Gobble quilt.
Who says turkeys don't have much of a brain?

It was a wonderful day for everyone to see Algona's latest attraction.
Thanks to everyone who attended the open house.
If you are interested in a get away in the quiet country side, where you can sit on the porch and do some hand sewing while listening to the birds sing and the turkeys gobble, then the Quilted Steeple is the place for you.
Go here for info. Go here to like them on Facebook.

Hope to see you in Iowa sometime soon.
Happy Quilting.
From my heart,


  1. It sure looks like it was a lovely day on so many levels! Thank you for the wonderful pictures and your fantastic sense of humor.

  2. Absolutely amazing quilts, church, and quilters!Thanks so much for sharing with us...I feel like I was "almost" there!

  3. Great pictures!!! Would have loved to have been there. How many quilts did you leave behind at the studio? - I know you have designed more than 106 over the years. :) Nice job Sandy!

  4. Sandy - How awesome. And you said your didn't "speak". Looks like a lot of fun.
    I'm not at all sure that's a wild turkey. Looks like one of ours - Max's pets.

  5. What a wonderful setting. It looks like a welcoming place for a quilters retreat! I loved the turkeys wandering in front of your quilts. They (the quilts) are beautiful.

  6. What a fantastic place to be, I wish I could have dropped by to check it all out (am just a little far away sadly!) - how very cool to have turned the church into a retreat like that, I love the themed bedrooms. Looked like fun for any quilter! Have a good week, Jenny

  7. Sounds like a great time. I'm glad that Julie bought the church and parsonage and made such a great crafting place. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  8. It looks like this was a fantastic day. I wish I could have been there. The "new" quilt retreat is absolutely charming. Love the rewritten Doxology. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm sure you did a great job as speaker. Sometimes we're more hard on ourselves than other are on us.

  9. What an awesome story! It's amazing what people can do... From the loving renovation of the church to seeing all of the amazing quilts, friendships, fellowships and creative inspiration all come together. Btw-love the new version of the Doxocology,! Very fitting. I think God was smiling down upon you all and enjoying the day with you.

  10. Looks like a wonderful show and how nice the ladies could actually touch and get closer looks of the quilts. I have wanted to do that sometimes at the state show and cannot. Only can see the back if a white glove person is available.