Quilt for Others with “Quilt to Give”

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Quilt for Others with “Quilt to Give”

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Many hands make light work! The words of this time-tested adage went through my mind on several occasions this past weekend, during the 3-day Quilt Expo event in Madison, WI. Among the hustle and activities of 15,000 enthusiastic quilters, women sat down to cut and stitch full-sized quilts to be given away to people in need. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare, more like quiet dedication.

Some of you might have read the 10-day Quilt to Give lessons. This easy quilt, a hybrid of a pattern I presented during the 2-part Sewing With Nancy Series on Column Quilts, was the featured project. Ten sewing machines were set up, sponsored by Baby Lock, plus a Crown Jewel long-arm quilting machine and frame.

I worked in advance with Theresa and Rachel, the two project coordinators. Several quilts were already in progress so that attendees could cut, or sit and sew at their convenience.

Theresa and Rachel guided the volunteers through the process. They manned the stations for eight hours each day. They’re quilting saints!

You might like to consider this type of quilting bee for a charity event in your area.

Here are the quilting stations and a view of the set-up:

  • Fabric donation area

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  • Cutting station

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  • Several pressing areas

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  • Sewing stations

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  • A second cutting area to trim the quilt top

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  • A quilting area with Baby Lock representatives doing the free-motion stitching

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Some of the completed quilts

To my amazement, 10 quilts were completed during this 3-day event. The simple quilt design with lots and lots of straight seams was one of the reasons that so many quilts were completed. Plus, having columns and not quilt blocks eliminated the process of matching corners. Of course, the main reason quilts were completed is due to the volunteer quilters!

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More donations!

In the Quilt Expo brochure, we asked for full-sized quilt donations. Never did I expect over 30 donated quilts. Thank you to all who donated!

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Suggestions if you’d like to organize a charity quilting bee:

Hint #1—Use a stripe for the patchy strip

Donations of fabric are a crucial part of this volunteer quilting bee. This fabric was one of the first donated—eight yards in all. At first it seemed too bright and bold for a Quilt to Give project, but then I followed my own instructions and used it as the inspirational fabric to choose the column colors from the salsa color range.

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The finished quilt is vibrant and was extremely quick to sew. Instead of piecing together the patchy center of each column, we used the stripe as the center strip. What a fun color combination!

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Hint #2: Request solid fabrics.

We had more prints than solids for donations. As you can see, solid columns are what’s needed.

Hint #3: Sort fabrics in a bin, and include a guidesheet.

If you’d like to organize a Quilt to Give event, we’ll be glad to send you the Quilt to Give guidesheet. This sheet details how many quilt strips to cut and what colors to use. It’s a great visual and allows many different people to work on the same project. Email us at [email protected] to request the Quilt to Give guidesheet.

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A special thanks to Theresa and Rachel, the Quilt to Give Coordinators, and to Baby Lock for donating the use of their machines. Then of course, my heart-felt thanks to all of you who participated in this 2011-style Quilting Bee.

Where will the quilts be donated?

Baby Lock dealers in areas that have been devastated by flooding, tornadoes, and fires will be contacted. The quilts will be sent to them for distribution to families who have suffered great loss.

The Quilt to Give instructions are listed on my blog site. These steps were all made possible from the initial instructions found in Column Quilts.

Remember, the gift is in the giving!

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  • Joanne Pulgarin
    September 13, 2013

    The hard work that was done was so wonderful and I am so sure that the donation to people in need was received with gratitude. That really is what it’s all about to give 🙂
    Thanks for all the pictures. I also want to Quilt and Give!
    Sincerely Yours
    Joanne Pulgarin
    [email protected]

  • Roubaix
    July 22, 2014

    Couldn’t these quilts be finished in a “quilt as you go” fashion (sewing the columns down to the batting & using scrap lengths for the back)?

  • Leslie D. Martin
    October 25, 2015

    Yea, it’s great that they are quilting and giving them to those in need. But still, pretty unimpressive. The article boasts that in a 3-day Quilt Expo event in Madison, WI “15,000 enthusiastic quilters, women sat down to cut and stitch full-sized quilts to be given away to people in need.” They made 10 quilts. *TEN STINKIN’ QUILTS*.

    Pretty unimpressive. In fact, I’m constantly amazed at quilters who brag and pat themselves on the back about occasionally making a batch of quilts for those in need, yet their total annual output for those in need is minuscule compared to others who rarely (if ever) get the public pat on the back.

    Compare the Wisconsin event referenced above to this: I know of two women who — by THEMSELVES and with nothing more that ONE basic, straight-stich sewing machine — make 5-6 quilts a month — every month — that they donate to kids at a womens/family shelter. And THAT’s in addition to working regular jobs. And they don’t “save time” by doing the same quilt pattern over and over as was done at the Madison event, they do a variety of patterns.

    15,000 people making 10 quilts at a 1-off event is nothing to brag about. In fact, it should be down-right embarrassing.

  • Carol Carrel
    December 9, 2015

    I’ve been all over on the Internet trying to figure out where to leave the comment that puts me in the drawing for the giveaway. I’m glad sewing is easier than navigating such. I have a quilt top in need of an applique and it will be ready to go to a LAQ to finish for Quilts of Valor. We gather weekly in OKC to sew together and usually on QOV. I love the ladies and especially sewing QOV. My late husband was a disabled Army vet retiree.

  • Nancy Enns
    July 15, 2018

    Myself and a small group of women have seen and donated hundreds of bow strap dresses for girls in very poor places. We have recently switched to t Shirt based dresses that are more practical and give more sun coverage.
    As Nancy said the gift is in giving.
    This is one of the most biblical ways of giving- to Widows and Orphans. Ie the helpless.

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