When it comes to hobbies, quilting isn’t something that is at the top of most people’s lists. But for Cheryl Hilbrands of George, it’s been a passion and a hobby of hers for more than 15 years now, and she started sewing long before that.
“I started sewing back in 1966 and, at first, I was just making things for my family,” she said. “But then I did some sewing years ago for other people and did that sort of thing for a while, and about 15 years ago was when I got into quilting.”
Hilbrands said that no matter how busy she or her family members got, she always kept going back to sewing and quilting. “I’d get involved with other things and kind of give it up for a while, but it just kept always coming back,” quipped Hilbrands.
About 15 years ago when she first started quilting, her hobby became rather profitable for a while. “I started doing a lot of crafting and things like that, and I started selling my stuff in shops and doing craft shows,” said Hilbrands, but then she pulled back because she started wanting to do more things for herself and her family again.
While Hilbrands doesn’t sell too much of her creations these days, she’s still sewing just as much as ever. “I do presentations to women’s clubs and have taught classes for Northwest Iowa Community College. I also like to enter fairs and get my ribbons and get feedback on how I’m doing.”
Hilbrands entered 17 projects at the Clay County Fair earlier this month and came away with 14 blue first-place ribbons and three red second-place ribbons. She also entered some items in the Sioux Empire Fair for the first time in a few years, and she’s been judging 4-H and open class entries at the Lyon County Fair the last five years as well.
“I like to pass my knowledge down and it’s always fun to see them (4-H members) progress,” said Hilbrands. She’s also passed her knowledge along by teaching classes in the Sioux Falls school system and at quilt shops for about 15 years now.
These days Hilbrands mostly makes clothing items such as quilted vests and jackets as well as purses, tote bags, wall hangings and table runners. However, she hasn’t ruled out going back to the marketplace and selling some of her items. This time around she’s looking at on-line platforms such as Etsy.
“For about 12 years I sold shirts and sweatshirts, gift baskets, purses and other items in four shops and did large craft shows as well. I’m not selling much anymore but I still do alterations for people, and I think Etsy is pretty cool so I may look into selling some of my smaller items on there.”
The favorite aspect of her hobby has always been making things for family members. When her granddaughters were younger, Hilbrands would make them little dresses and pajamas and other things. “Now they’re 12 and 15 so that isn’t so cool anymore,” she said with a laugh, “but I still love to make them things like pillowcases or stuffed animals, as well as quilts. I made my sons quilts out of T-shirts, too.”
Hilbrands has been a member of a quilt guild in Sioux Falls the last eight years and joined a sewing guild in Sioux City about 15 years ago. “I’ve also done quilt tying at our church with nine friends for the last several years,” she said.
Additionally, many of her items have made their way out of the area in the last nine years, thanks to various charity groups Hilbrands supports. She’s made pillowcases for Sanford kids and veterans, tote bags that have been sent to Africa, backpacks for Lutheran League in Sioux City, and hats and gloves for Head Start in Rock Rapids, among other things.
It always comes back to family, though, and Hilbrands said she expects she’ll always be making different things for her family members. “I do it because it’s just fun to see their delight, and I joke that it’s something for them to remember me by.”