Editor’s note: This week’s guest blogger is Nancy Zieman, author, pattern designer, businesswoman, producer and national sewing authority, as well as host of Sewing with Nancy, which appears exclusively on public television stations across the U.S. and Canada. Follow Nancy’s blog and sign up to receive Nancy’s E-News for information on sewing, quilting and creating.
By Nancy Zieman
Almost two years ago, I decided to make a full-sized quilt and give it away after seeing the devastation of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, in May 2011. I couldn’t travel to Missouri to help, but I could make a quilt that would show that I cared. I chronicled the 10-day journey on my blog, varying a popular quilt design that I featured on Sewing With Nancy, called the Column Quilt. The quilt designed with columns, instead of blocks, was speedy to piece.
Changing the center of each column to a random design and using my fabric stash — mainly the leftovers from other projects rather than a specific fabric collection — is how I varied the project I call Quilt to Give.
My hope was that others would follow suit, quilting then giving. With instructions on how to make bed quilts — twin, double, queen, and king sized — these substantial sized quilts could fully cover a bed to show support and friendship to those in need.
Hope turned to reality. It was exhilarating to read how others followed the 10 online lessons, making then giving away quilts. The need for bed-quilts seems unending. A fire in your neighborhood, a call for quilts from a local shelter, and of course, national disasters that affect so many are just a few of the places where quilts made with love are needed.
10 Online Lessons
If you’d like to quilt along, just follow the 10 online lessons. Steps take just hours, some a little longer. Ask a quilting buddy or buddies to join in!
Step 1 — Sort out fabrics from several stashes
- Begin by selecting several prints that will be used as inspirational fabrics.
- Gather solid-color fabrics that coordinate or match with each print. Choose as many solids or mottled fabrics (subtle prints that appear as solid colors from a distance) as possible for this project.
Step 2 — Cut column strips and center patchy strips
- Learn how to cut the column and “patchy” center strips.
- It’s exciting to see what you can find in your inventory of fabric.
Step 3—Stitch column lengths
- This is the quickest lesson; you need one of those now and then. Just stitch the quilt columns end to end.
- Determine a layout.
Step 4 — Stitch the patchy center columns
During this lesson, learn a few tried and true tips on how to create a patchy center. There are a lot of straight seams to be stitched.
- Pick up pointers on how to pair colors and strip sizes.
Mindless sewing is very contemplative; a great time to plan and think!
Step 5 — Create the columns
- Now’s the time when the quilt starts to come to life. The solid columns center the patchy columns.
Step 6 — Piece the quilt top
- Quilt sizes range from twin to king, or 10 to 15 columns. There’s a lot straighter stitching!
Make sure you have a space to layout out and admire your work!
Step 7 — Audition borders
- I thought for sure that a scrappy border was in order. Not so. The auditioning step proved me wrong.
You’ll find the needed yardage requirements for the borders in this lesson. It might be necessary to buy additional fabric for the borders and binding.
Step 8 — Add Borders
All but the twin sized quilt top require double borders. Like a picture frame, this close-to-the-end step sets off the design.
Step 9 — Layer and Quilt Your Creation
My friend Sue Petruske of Pleasant Valley Farm Longarm Quilting was called upon to quilt the layers. She’s a master at long arm quilting.
Step 10 — Binding and Labeling
Sharen, one of my ace sewists, stitches on the finishing touches.
Quilt to Give — Phase Two—a Community Service Project
The time came to plan a community service project for the annual Quilt Expo in Madison Wisconsin. I knew that the Quilt to Give project was a worthy candidate. But the magnitude of this project seemed great. In the past, we stitched small projects — projects that took 30 minutes!
With a little creative thinking and help of many willing hands, including the set-up and use of machines from Baby Lock, we set-up a sewing/quilting area with 10 sewing machines, a longarm quilting machine/frame, and plenty of cutting tables, ironing stations, and many willing hands.
A call for fabric
In the event brochure and through emails, a call for fabrics was made. One table was set up for sorting.
Selecting the quilt fabrics
One of the volunteers was selected to sort and determine fabrics for each quilt. We also had several prepared in advance. A tray per quilt was allocated and a Quilt to Give Worksheet was developed.
Press, then cut
Following the worksheet, volunteers cut and prepared the strips.
Let the stitching begin
With the help of two full-time volunteers, Rachel and Theresa from M&R Sewing, the quilts were stitched, sewn, and pressed. Four or five quilts were being assembled simultaneously.
The quilting process drew a crowd
Baby Lock educators were there to stitch the layers together. Without their help, we would have lots of sewn tops, but no finished quilts.
It’s enjoyable to see all the color combinations of the finished quilts.
Some quilters brought their finished quilts, made at home from following the online instructions.
The Giving Part
The first year 30 quilts were donated and/or completed at the event; this past year the number was 37. Quilts were sent to St. Johns Medical Center in Joplin in 2011. Half the quilts went to employees at the hospital who lost their homes; the remaining quilts were given to community members.
This year quilts have been given to local charities and individuals and families who have lost all their belongings due to fire.
For more information on how to Quilt for Others with Quilt to Give, download the free worksheet and follow the lesson plans. It’s work, yes, but greatly rewarding and gratifying.
The gift is in the giving!