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History of Quilting in Baldwin City, Kansas

In the process of having Baldwin City designated as the Quilt Capital of Kansas, Sharon Vesecky gave several interviews giving some insight into the deep history of quilting in Baldwin City. Several articles were published soon after and can be read here:

Baldwin City Community News, February 19, 2019
Country Register, April/May 2019
Grass and Grain, March 5, 2019

Sharon Vesecky, a fourth-generation quilter who owns and manages Quilters' Paradise, spearheaded the effort to have Baldwin City declared the Quilt Capital of Kansas. Working together with Senator Holland and the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce staff, they collected the necessary documentation used to put together the proposal. This resolution recognizes the rich quilting history in Baldwin City, as well as the positive economic and social impact quilting has on Baldwin City, for both local citizens and the tourism quilting draws.

In 1973 the longest running quilt show in Kansas was started and has been held every year since in conjunction with the annual Maple Leaf Festival. The idea of the Maple Leaf Quilt Show was conceived by Enola Gish, Helen Booth, Helen Erickson, and Helen Gordon. The show features more than 100 quilts each year. When Enola Gish retired after 25 years as quilt show director, the guild assumed responsibility for the quilt show. In October 2020 when the Maple Leaf Festival was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic; however, the guild and festival committee coordinated to hold a virtual quilt show.

In 1977, the Kaw Valley Quilters Guild was initially established in Baldwin City by Enola Gish, Helen Booth, Helen Erickson, and Helen Gordon. As the guild membership grew with more members from Lawrence, it was relocated to Lawrence where it remains active with over 200 members.

On January 3, 1989, Quilters' Paradise (initially under the name Cygnet Fashions and Fabrics) was opened by Sharon Vesecky. This full-service quilt shop features 4,000+ bolts of fabric, patterns, notions, and more, as well as offering longarm quilting services. The entire inventory was added to an upgraded website that went online in early 2021, offering online shopping to quilters anywhere.

In 1991, the Maple Leaf Quilt Guild was established. An early activity of the guild was a Quilt Walk where quilts were displayed in downtown businesses. The Quilt Walk evolved into the Art Walk that continues today. The Maple Leaf Quilt Guild continues to be active in Baldwin City and is now a supporting guild for the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival.

Betty Hagerman, author of A Meeting of Sunbonnet Children (1979), resided in rural Baldwin City and was well known regionally as a master quilter.

For several years Baldwin City has maintained a "Sister City" relationship with Riviersonderend, South Africa. The quilters of Baldwin City received a quilt presented to them by their South African sisters that reflects their culture and made a reciprocal quilt reflecting Kansas culture that was gifted back.
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About Quilters' Paradise

Quilters' Paradise Quilt Shop, owned and run by Sharon Vesecky, opened its doors in its current location on January 3, 1989.