Celebrating our Ruby Jubilee history!

Enterprising group of women create a legacy of creativity, service, and companionship.

Two people, one, an avid embroidery person, Linda Dixon and Jo Inzer Smith, a quilter who recently moved here from California met at a wonderful stitchery shop in Belgravia in downtown Boise (5th and Main – SW corner). Linda wanted to start a chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America and Jo wanted to belong to a quilt guild like she belonged to in Southern CA. Jo was already attending national quilt conferences. Linda said, “Jo if you help me start an Embroidery Guild, I will then help you start a quilt guild.”

By Cheryl Little
Charter Member
First Chair/President 1983 – 1984

1983 — Around a Quilt Frame at Cheryl Little’s Home
Left to Right: Billie Mahorney, Jacque Riddlemoser, Linda Dixon, Mihoko Tsong and Peggi Anderson Laubenheim.
Not Pictured: Jo Inzer and Cheryl Little, photographer.

At that meeting it was determined that a quilt guild would form as a part of Embroiderers of America (EGA), thus avoiding all the paperwork associated with starting a separate organization. We paid our membership fees to EGA and $7.00 of the $12.00 went to the National organization. Our quilt group of about 16 met in our homes and became known as Quilt Gems. Jo Inzer Smith and Jacque Riddlemoser were the most knowledgeable quilters and assigned us all to research and present programs at our monthly gatherings on the 3rd Tuesdays. I remember being assigned batting… about which I had no idea there was so much to know and consider. It was all a bit intimidating, especially the idea I would ever make a full sized hand pieced, hand quilted quilt. At that time (late 1970’s), as quilter’s the only thing we used our sewing machines for was to sew the quilt together and add the first step of the binding. Because the walking foot had not yet been invented, even machine sewing the binding was time-consuming. We had to baste it first or it would ripple … heaven forbid.

I joined the group because, one, they were a fun group of women to spend time with and they were going to make a quilt to raffle, raising money to have a quilt show. I was especially attracted to the idea of making a raffle quilt. If I could actually see a quilt go together to completion and, then, perhaps I would have the confidence to attack one on my own. As time progressed, I could see, even more than making a quilt, how with a quilt show we could raise awareness in our community to the many values of a quilt, hoping they would then be treasures to be inherited, rather than sold at garage sales. That became important to all of us.

First quilt started in 1982 and finished 2005. Three members were there from the start to the finish. Left to Right: Cheryl Little, Linda Dixon, and Jacque Riddlemoser.

Jo Inzer at a quilt frame from 1982

… it was our first quilt (1982) in a full-out frame and the last of many to be finished (2005). When Jo was sick in 2005 with a terminal cancer, Linda Dixon rescued the quilt and made sure it got finished before Jo passed.

It was not enough for Jo Inzer. In January of 1981, I was one of a group of 6 women invited to lunch at Jo Inzer’s house to discuss ways we might all have quilts finished in time for our first show. We soon added an 8th member! By the time lunch was over, a plan had been hatched to that end. Every two weeks, we made blocks for one of us which got us going on our quilt.

Once the quilt top was ready, we would gather at a home, put it on a frame, return 2-3 more times to make some progress and, within the year, we all had quilts at home to work on both on our own and individually. We made our goal of all having finished quilts for the 1983 quilt show and I had a quilt for the brass bed!

Jo Inzer’s young and very active twin boys called us “Mom’s Quilters” and it stuck. Our small group has lost and added new members and overall doesn’t quilt as much or the same as it once did 40+ years ago. But, as of March 2023, there are 11 of us meeting once each month on First Thursday, sharing our lives and projects. Over the years our small group has lost and added new members. We don’t quilt the same as we did 40+ years ago, but we still meet sharing our lives and projects.

Following the Spring of 1983 EGA/Quilt Gems Quilt show, the quilt group broke away and started Boise Basin Quilters. The first order of business was again, to make a quilt and raffle it off in order to raise funds for a quilt show. Boise Basin Quilters’ first quilt show was “Pieces Lives: Quilts 1986”.

A big part of our charter was to bring awareness of quilting to the Treasure Valley. We showed quilts in many public places including the Capitol Building and invited nationally known quilters to Boise to teach and lecture and promoted those lectures to the public. We made quilts to commemorate the major events, such as the National Governors Conference when held in Boise. And, we held Ada County documentation days followed by a show in 1990 featuring the many special quilts that were uncovered in the process. Those files are now housed at the Idaho State Historical Society.

About a year later, in 1979, with IGA underway, I was taking a beginning quilting class from Jacque Riddlemoser at her home. At the time we did not have a quilt shop in Boise, but very nice locally owned fabric stores. I had recently sold The Window Box, my plant and macrame shop in Meridian, and home and moved to Boise’s North End into a 90+ year old house to focus on the gift shop opened a year prior in Old Boise, Mother Hubbards Cupboard. Also, my husband and I had purchased a brass bed which seemed to cry for a quilt. I wanted one, but could I live long enough to complete it? At one of my last classes with Jacque, she announced she was soon attending a gathering of quilt enthusiasts in the Boise Highlands and wondered if anyone in class would like to attend. I thought it was so close to where I lived I should attend and Jacque volunteered to pick me up, thus we went.

These are members now gathering once each month. Left to right: FRONT ROW: Marilyn Dorman, Jill Beaman, current BBQ member; Linda Dixon, Charter BBQ Member, active member; BACK ROW: Cheryl Little, Charter BBQ Member, past Chair, active BBQ member; Kathy Quinn, Charter BBQ Member, past Chair; Donna Anderson, past Chair; Ann Swanson, current member; DuAnn Wright, joined BBQ 1984, current member; Pam Jones, Charter BBQ Member; and Chris Walter, Charter BBQ Member. (3 Past Chairs and 5 Charter BBQ Members) Not pictured: Jacque Riddlemoser, Charter BBQ Member.