In our June 2010 issue American Patchwork & Quilting (on newsstands April 6), we featured the Quilts of Valor Foundation, an organization dedicated to awarding injured and wounded service members and veterans with quilts. Read more about how the group connects quilt top makers and long-arm quilters–and how you can help–in our Quilting Changes Everything column.
While writing the story, I learned some QOVF volunteers work together locally in groups. I chatted with one such volunteer, Susan Gordon, who has helped organize QOVF group efforts with two guilds. She’s also organizing a group of volunteers to make Quilts of Valor at her upcoming Sew Free Sewing Retreat in Toccoa, Georgia, on April 20-23. She shared the following tips on how to organize a group effort for QOVF with other quilters in your area:
- Spread the word. Susan was surprised to learn some of her fellow guild members were already making Quilts of Valor on their own–when they learned they were separately working on quilts, they decided to combine their efforts.
- Schedule a sewing day once a month. Susan says some may piece entire quilts on their own, while some work together to make individual blocks. You could also create cutting, pressing, and sewing stations, and take turns at each task. To recruit other volunteers, post flyers or messages at libraries or churches or at your local quilt shop.
- Make patterns available. Either create your own that fit the organization’s specifications (quilts should be at least 50×60″ but no larger than 72×87″) and share them, or let volunteers know they can download free pattterns from QOVF.org. We also offer many patterns that can be made in patriotic colors on AllPeopleQuilt.com. (Published patterns in books and magazines are copyrighted and should not be photocopied for distribution.)
- Ask local businesses to donate supplies or money to purchase supplies, such as batting or backing fabric. Know someone who cares about your cause, but doesn’t quilt? Ask if they’d like to donate money to your group for materials. Susan’s group then enlists a volunteer photographer to take a photo of the quilt in a pretty outdoors setting before it’s given to a service member. The photo is framed along with a note of thanks and given to the donor.
- Recruit local long-arm quilters. Susan has about six local volunteer quilters that finish the quilts.
- Make it fun. If you’re organizing an event or retreat, incorporate the volunteer efforts into the activities. Susan offers a raffle ticket for each QOVF block completed. She also displays the finished blocks on a design wall at the retreat so attendees can see their progress.
I hope you’ll find these tips to be helpful if you decide to organize a group volunteer effort for QOVF–some tips may even apply if you decide to make quilts as a group for other charitable organizations! Do you already volunteer for QOVF or another organization? If you have other tips, feel free to share them here!
P.S. When you make a “presentation case” (pillowcase) to wrap your Quilt of Valor for giving, don’t forget to add it to our 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge online counter!
Edited to add: In the Quilting Changes Everything story, we incorrectly stated that Laura Krasinski pieced the quilt pictured in the photo. Jean Higelman both pieced and quilted the quilt. We appologize for the error.