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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Sewing for Africa

  • There's no doubt that Jane Kiser is a seamstress. The Geneseo woman has worked with fabric since childhood. Most recently, she and Barbara Schroder, members of First United Methodist Church in Geneseo, led a “Sewing Mission” group which finished 150 “pillowcase dresses” and 86 pair of shorts in three months ... and the women met only once a month.
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  • There's no doubt that Jane Kiser is a seamstress.
    The Geneseo woman has worked with fabric since childhood. Most recently, she and Barbara Schroder, members of First United Methodist Church in Geneseo, led a "Sewing Mission" group which finished 150 "pillowcase dresses" and 86 pair of shorts in three months ... and the women met only once a month.
    The items of clothing were blessed along with the church mission team who took the garments with them to Liberia where they will be distributed to children in need. Kiser said some of the dresses and shorts also will be given to children in Guinea. The dresses are all the same style, in different fabrics and lengths and are estimated to be from size 4 to 10.
    "We put little tags in the back of the shorts with the size," she said.
    First UMC member Wai-Mae Lim read about making the "pillowcase dresses" for Third World countries and then approached the Rev. Chris Ritter, pastor, about their church undertaking a similar project.
    Plans were already underway for a team from First UMC to travel to Liberia in October where the Geneseo church initiated the birth of New Buchanan United Methodist Church in December 2010 when they began paying salaries of two pastors who would start the congregation.
    They also have provided programming money, bought land, and funded the construction of a temporary structure.
    Earlier this year the membership presented a $30,000 check to the Rev. Dr. John G. Innis, United Methodist Bishop of Liberia, Africa, to construct a permanent building for the New Buchanan United Methodist Church in his country.
    The current construction project is part of a three-year involvement the Geneseo church has had in Liberia and a 10-year involvement Ritter has had in that country. The Geneseo congregation funded the digging of a well, provided scholarships and saved a widow's home from demolition.
    "We hope to continue to establish new congregations in that country," Ritter said.
    When was asked to organize the "Sewing Mission," Kiser said she became "excited" about the project.
    "It has been a blessing for us as it has brought people together to make the dresses. Not everyone who came sews, but they came to help. Some ironed fabric, some cut out dresses, others put in elastic and others did the sewing. We have a sewing sweatshop going in our Fellowship Hall on our 'Sewing Mission' Day."
    Kiser said the United Methodist Women at First United Methodist contributed funds to purchase panties to be included with each dress.
    "I feel we were blessed because God used this mission of making dresses and shorts to bring people together to sew or donate fabrics and to have a good fellowship time doing it. We are all busy people with plenty to do, but we came together to do this," she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - There is box in the church narthex where people can leave donations of fabric, elastic, bias tape, thread and other items needed for the sewing project.
    "Each Sunday, there were more donations or finished dresses in the box. Such a blessing," she said.
    The "Sewing Mission" has started a similar project of making the 'pillowcase dresses' and shorts for children in Haiti, to be sent with a mission group traveling there early next year and Kiser said, "We will continue to sew as long as there is a need."
    Kiser has a degree in home economics Education from Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Her experience includes teaching home economics in Erie before her sons were born and then became a "stay-at-home mom," volunteering at church, in 4-H groups and as a 4-H leader.
    She was on the 4-H Henry County clothing committee and judged at area fairs. She taught sewing lessons at the former Couturier Shop in Bettendorf, Iowa; at the former Neal's Sewing Center in Davenport, Iowa; at then at Neal's Sewing Center, Muscatine, Iowa; and continues to work on an occasional basis.
    In 2010, Kiser began teaching at Quilts-n-Blooms, Geneseo, where she instructs hands-on classes for students from age 7-90. She also leads Jane's Creative Club at Quilts-n-Blooms on a monthly basis where she introduces new projects and techniques.
    Kiser also is a licensed Martha Pullen teacher and has attended six of her schools in Huntsville, Ala., licensed in Serger I and II, Heirloom, Quilting, Beginning Teaching I and II, and has taught at two of Martha Pullen's licensing schools in Huntsville.
    She and her husband, Dale, have three sons, Fred of Ely, Iowa; Alan of Mount Vernon, Iowa; and Brian Kiser of Youngstown, Ohio; three grandsons and one granddaughter.
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