Sally Schroeder

When someone is truly passionate about something, it’s rather obvious, a warmth that you can feel radiating from them.

When I met Sally Schroeder, I could feel that warmth, like being wrapped up in a cozy handmade quilt.

Sally Schroeder knows the happiness that a handmade quilt can bring. As the owner of Sassy Cat Quilting Company, her love of quilting contagiously spreads to everyone she meets. Her passion started young, finding out she was a natural at it when she discovered she enjoyed home-economics class in the 7th grade. She grew up watching her mom sew curtains and selftaught herself to sew on her mother’s treadle. As she continued to sew, she later shared her passion with others by teaching adult sewing classes in the 1980’s.

Schroeder and husband John have five grown children and moved to Yankton from Coleridge, Nebraska in 2012. She had a quilting studio in Coleridge about nine years ago and when they moved to Yankton they decided to purchase the previous Dakota De Caza grounds for a home and new quilting studio. It wasn’t long before Sassy Cat Quilting Company was in business. The name Sassy Cat wasn’t a serious business name at first, it actually started as a joke by her sons-in-law who, for fun one day called her Sassy Cat and it stuck.

Schroeder and husband John took out 30 stalls in the massive 29,000 square foot horse barn, poured cement and turned the area into a beautiful store and gallery. Her store a spectacular display of color filled with fabric pieces for purchase, quilts on display from Guild members and beautiful antique furniture pieces while images of her mother and inspirational words adorn the walls. With my mother-in-law along for the visit, knowing that she would enjoy the artwork of a fellow quilter, we gazed around the store in appreciation and admiration. As we were guided through the store, Schroeder showed us a murphy bed, baby crib and antique hotel mailbox that were creatively used in her fabric displays.

Though the store in itself is cozy and charming, the most heart-warming part of it is the friendships that have evolved.

Schroeder smiled as she told me about her quilting group, the “Sassy Cat Posse” as they call themselves: Mary Kirschenman, Mary Ellen Hornstra, Elaine Harty, Peggy Anderson, Suzanne Pressler, Sharon Auch and Marlyce Micklos. The group of quilters has become a sisterhood and Schroeder found out recently that the camaraderie runs deeper than quilting.

When her husband John recently encountered some sudden health issues, the Sassy Cat Posse jumped in without hesitation to help out in the shop, assisting with everything from cutting fabric to running the till.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Schroeder explained, showing her emotion. “The girls…(their help), it’s overwhelming.

I never thought I would be in that position.” Just listening to her explain the friendship of the group gave me warmth that even a quilt couldn’t give.

These women, all a part of the Yankton Dakota Prairie Quilt Guild, are helping to put on a huge quilt show on October 15 and 16 at Sally’s place, the Schroeder Ranch, located five miles north of the junction of Highway 50 and Highway 81. Schroeder, co-chair of the event with Angie Hejl, explained that they are anticipating at least 400 quilts on display at the event.

The event, called “Quilts on the Dakota Prairie,” will also feature several vendors for visitors to talk with. The hundreds of quilts will be displayed on fences and barn rafters for spectators to witness the talent of the more than 60 members of the Dakota Prairie Quilt Guild.

“It will be more like a quilt festival,” Schroeder laughed and explained how the Guild started working on this show a year ago. It sounds like it will be an amazing sight.

Like most quilters, Schroeder has given away more quilts than she’s kept, estimating that she’s made “dozens and dozens” of quilts over the years. Someone challenged her that once she opened a quilt shop, she would never quilt for herself again because she would be so busy with her shop. She is taking on that challenge by currently making a king size pineapple quilt for herself.

“It’s a contagious hobby,” she explains. “The best quilters take it the most serious. They think about it all the time.” It’s hard to imagine how Schroeder has time to think of new ideas by being so busy quilting, teaching classes, selling fabric and long-arm sewing for people. She has currently added “Mutton Mondays” to her list of happenings, where sewers can come out to work with wool applique. The participants end up sharing many things: stories, laughs, ideas and pieces of fabric.

A free motion artist, she explains, her quilt ideas come directly from her head and are not created on a computer. She feels that using a computer limits creativity and puts a “stamp” on the product, and she likes to personalize the quilts instead, making them more unique. She loves the entire quilting process and will start a new quilt when the idea comes to her, sometimes having several quilts started at one time.

If you’re looking to take part in the Yankton Dakota Prairie Quilt Guild, they meet on the fourth Monday of every month, each meeting location to be announced. To find out the location, look to their minutes published in the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan newspaper or call Sassy Cat Quilting Company right before the meeting for the location at (605) 660-1612.

When asking Schroeder about any final thoughts about the upcoming enormous quilt show, she states, “if you miss this quilt show, you will be sad. It will be THAT AWESOME. The committee has put its heart and soul into it. We’re opening this barn up to people. You’ll be blown away by the talent, seeing things that you’ve never thought would come out of South Dakota.”

We hope to see you at the Quilts on the Dakota Prairie on Saturday, Oct. 15th from 9:00 AM–7:00 PM or Sunday, Oct, 16th from 12:00 PM–4:00 PM. If you have any questions, please call Sassy Cat Quilting Company at (605) 660-1612. Store hours are Monday-Friday 10 AM–6 PM and Saturday 12 PM–2 PM. Schroeder will also be launching a website very soon,

She smiles and reflects, “I am the luckiest girl in the world.” The way she said it makes me have no doubt; I could feel it coming from her heart. “Quilts make people happy,” she continued. One thing is for certain. She and her quilting crew are helping to provide many smiles, warm hearts and warm bodies, one stitch at a time.