Handmade: CAMEO Quilters Guild helps preserve fiber art tradition

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News
Jean Schlegelman, of Troy, sorts through pieces of fabric scraps before she uses them to make a quilt.

There's nothing like individuals who share a common interest getting together regularly  to explore new ideas, make plans for group activities, and use their skills to help those less fortunate — all while preserving a particular art form in hopes that future generations will carry on the tradition.

The CAMEO Quilters Guild, established in 1994, is one such group. The name CAMEO is actually the brainchild of a founding member, and an acronym for "Come And Meet Each Other." 

Romeo resident Sharon Cratsenburg, who serves as president, shared the guild's mission statement:  "The purpose of CAMEO shall be to promote and preserve the art of quilting, patchwork, applique, and related fiber arts; to sponsor workshops, lectures, and displays; to stimulate an interest in quilting and occasions for friends to meet for fellowship; and to engage in charitable efforts deemed advisable by the membership."

Members meet every third Thursday of the month, Sept. through June, at Clawson United Methodist Church, 205 N. Main in Clawson, and that following Saturday they usually hold either a workshop or an "Open Sew Day," where everyone works on projects of their own

Cameo Quilter Guild president Sharon Cratsenburg, left, of Romeo, and Barbara Eaken, of Berkley, cut fabic.

"We meet at 7 p.m., and we're usually done around 9:30 p.m.," said Cratsenburg. "We have a break after our guest speaker with snacks. Then we have our business meeting, where we go through announcements and reminders of upcoming things that have to do with the guild. We also have a show-and-tell."

Members practice a variety of quilting techniques, based on their personal preference -- modern, traditional, portrait, landscape, crazy, etc., and they use their skills to make not only quilts, but a number of practical items. Among them are baskets, bags, pillows, and quilt-embellished jackets made from a sweatshirt.

Every February, members hold what's called a Charity Day to work on projects that will be donated to local charities. Every year, they vote to decide which charities they want to donate to. This year, they'll be donating various handmade projects to Haven of Oakland County, a safe place in Pontiac for battered women and children; Beaumont and Henry Ford Hospitals which gives parents who lost a child at birth a flannel-tie "grieving envelope" for paperwork; Miracle Quilts, which provides quilts for wounded troops and their families; Clawson United Methodist Church Layette Program, which gives layette boxes to mothers in need with newborns, and Ryan's Case for Smile, which distributes pillowcases to sick children.

This Proud To Be American Mickey Mouse quilt will be donated to a U.S. veteran or the family of a U.S. serice member.

Members also host a quilt show every few years to help with expenses for charity projects, speakers and workshops.

Next month, members will go on a retreat to Colombiere in Clarkston for a weekend of sewing and possibly shopping. "Everybody brings their sewing machine, fabric and whatever projects they're working on," said Cratsenburg, adding that this will be the group's first get-a-way at Colombiere. "We do a little make-and-take that's planned by a committee, and sometimes, we go to quilt shops, if there's one in the area."

Along with Cratsenburg, other board members are facilitator vice president Cheryl Cawley of White Lake; scheduling vice president Jan Recinos and membership vice president Lynda Draudt, both of Royal Oak; recording secretary Ann Bonnelli, Troy; corresponding secretary Kathy Debian and treasurer Pat Baldauf, both of Royal Oak; assistant treasurer Barb Lusk, Clawson, and members-at-large Darlene Baer, Lathrup Village; Judy Murray, Royal Oak, and Kathy Wilson, Sterling Heights.

Anyone is welcome to join the non-profit organization, which currently consists of 53 members, ranging in age from their 40s to 70s. The annual membership fee is $40, and includes a newsletter, and information packet filled with programs and a list of quilt shops across Michigan. 


Cameo Quilters Guild at, or on Facebook. Email:  

Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or