Earlier this month, a local group posted on a neighbourhood Facebook page about an organization that helps furnish rooms and apartments for people who had lived on the streets. I thought it was a great idea. But while I wanted to contribute some donation quilts, I felt I had no time.
And then I thought about it. I do have time. I had to take the time. So, a few days ago, I decided to make six lap quilts to celebrate my upcoming 60th birthday – one for each decade. But I only had 10 days, could I do it?
I’ve heard and read people say that one shouldn’t advertise their good works. Charity and service should be done anonymously or it becomes self-serving. I do understand that sentiment. But I think that by sharing what we do for others, we give ideas to people who may not have otherwise considered doing something similar. The Quilt of Valour program is a good example. It’s through someone else talking about the QoVs that I learned about them and started helping out too.
I don’t tell people about everything I do, but I do share quite a few things because I like that maybe I can spark a light in someone else.
My 6 for 60
I knew I didn’t have the time to make 6 twin size or larger quilts, but I also believe that a home doesn’t need just necessities, but nice things too – things that you can do without, but are nice to have. And why shouldn’t someone who is moving off the streets into a home of their own have something nice, something colourful or pretty?
I decided to make the donation quilts about 40 to 44 inches wide, so I wouldn’t have to piece the backing. I’ve found that people like quilts about this width and about 50 inches long for the couch or a favourite chair. They’re just big enough to tuck around your lap and feet if you’re chilly or you need some comfort.
I have a big stash of fabric. It’s not as big as some I’ve seen, but it’s pretty big. So I began pulling out fabrics that I thought would make nice, simple quilts. At the beginning of the month, I ordered a large cut of backing fabric that I really liked – it’s a mottled, textured grey that I’ve used many times. But when it arrived, I realized I hadn’t read the description properly and it was flannel.
I have nothing against flannel – it’s a lovely fabric, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, so I set it aside for later use. When I decided to make these quilts, I thought the flannel was perfect and I had enough for five quilts.
I went for simple, fast because I had a deadline. But they also needed to be attractive to the eye. So, I just sewed pieces together until I was happy. One is a panel to which I applied borders, another a nice piece of fabric that I also bordered. The others, I played with the focus fabrics to come up with some nice patterns.
The quilting had to be simple too, because of the time factor. I do have to say that it is only because I have a longarm that I could make this goal. Quilting takes time on a regular sewing machine but it’s so fast on a longarm. However, I don’t have a computerized system, so it still takes time.
I decided on some pantographs and one quilt was a simple meander. Although the quilting is simple, I think each pattern fits the quilt top I designed.
Labeling the donation quilts
Many quilters say quilts should be labeled – but what to put on one for a stranger who will never know where the quilt came from? I thought it was important that they know that someone made this for them, that it was special in that way, so this is what I decided on, plain and simple:
And here they are. Some are bright, some subdued, but all are made with a heartfelt desire that the recipients find peace and warmth when they need it.
My Rules for Donations
I prefer not to call my quilts charity quilts. It’s just me, but I’m not comfortable with that. I prefer to call them donation quilts. And these are my few but unbreakable rules about donating quilts – and anything else.
1- The quality has to be as good as one I would make for someone I love. This means quality fabric, quality batting and, above all, quality work.
2- The patterns and designs have to be ones that I like too or what I know someone else would.
3- Mistakes might be inevitable. But if the mistakes are enough to annoy me, they must be fixed because if I don’t, it’s not good enough to meet rule number 1.
I am a very fortunate person. Despite some awful times in my early life, I have a wonderful family and friends, my work, my health, and my crafts. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. I do this type of work because I want to show how grateful I am for all that I do have, but also to make up for times when I wasn’t the person I should be. Hopefully, this helps makes some amends for those times. But I think most of all, I do this because it makes me happy. It makes me happy that I can do this.
I’m thrilled that I finished these 6 for 60 with time to spare. I’ll make more quilts at a more leisurely pace throughout the year, but I am happy I did these ones. Now, they go out into the world.