Monday, October 25, 2010

Skill building for charity

The Helping Hands department helps lots of quilters to find a way to use their skills to do good for others. The Sutter Cancer Center Quilt Auction is the featured charity in the TQL December issue and it offers a slightly different opportunity for quilters (in addition to the usual focus on quantity of quilts): quality of quilts! This event happens every three years, so you have time to give your all to a project to make it the best it can be or to make a sustained effort to perfect a new technique, and then donate it to the auction. I know I take my skill building a lot more seriously when it's used for something that will be seen and not just on a practice piece. And when you know it will be auctioned, well, that's even more motivation to master the technique. Check it out; December issue is on the newsstands now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Haitian quilters' work coming to Macy's

Hey, as I was driving home, I heard a story on NPR about PeaceQuilts Haiti, the charitable organization that we reported on in our August issue. It has partnered with Macy's, providing handmade items made by some of the Haitian quilters for the department store's new line of home decor products called Heart of Haiti! Since the article was published, Jeanne Staples, the PeaceQuilts founder, has kept me up to date on how things are going and sure enough, as soon as I got home and checked the email, there was the news from Jeanne. For now, you can find brightly colored pouches and oven mitts, and only at Macy's online but  it's a great start.
    This reminds me of what happened with the Freedom Quilting Bee, of the same rural Alabama area as Gee's Bend and with some of the same personalities. The Bee's quilts and quilting style became the toast of New York in the late 1960s and early '70s, promoted heavily in Bloomingdale's. That was during that period right before the bicentennial, when new life was breathed into quilting, which eventually resulted in its "revival" and flowering that we still are experiencing today. This is a fascinating story that you can read about in a book titled "The Freedom Quilting Bee" by Nancy Callahan, originally written in 1987 but reissued in 2005.