Thursday, 26 February 2009

Charity Quilts

A few years a go we hosted a charity quilt contest with UK Patchwork and Quilting Magazine for Project Linus. The challenge was to create a themed stripy quilt suitable for a child - tots through to teens. The theme could be anything from apples, butterflies, cats, dogs, trucks and trains, pirates or princesses. The judges were looking for themes that were clearly evident in the choice of fabrics and quilting designs.
We kept the project fun and simple so the quilts were quick and easy to finish. And while not mandatory, we hoped that entrants would donate their finished quilts to Project Linus.

The challenge was a huge success. The editors were delighted as it was the biggest response yet to an appeal by the magazine and nearly 100 quilts were donated to Project Linus.
It was such fun to see all those quilts and appreciate the creativity and goodwill of all the quilters. I'd like to pick out out a few of the things that made these quilts work.

  • Simplicity - the piecing was so simple that people were free to focus on the theme. When my son was 3, I let him choose some fabric for his quilt from an online shop. He was so thrilled when it came in the post. But as he opened the parcel he said; "Please mom, Don't cut it up!" That got me laughing! I just put some borders around it, backed it in bright non pil fleece and free-motion quilted around all the cars and trucks. It was so simple and he loved it.

  • Fun fabrics - there are so many fantastic fabrics - having a theme helped to give focus. Sometimes, complicated piecing can get in the way. It can be fun to let the fabric speak for itself. Some fabric would be gorgeous just as a wholecloth quilt. We found that when the piecing is simple the quilting can take the center stage. I loved using lots of fun threads to make the quilting stand out.

  • Comfort - many of the quilts were backed in fleece which made them soft and cuddly. Fleece is a fantastic backing for kids quilts. It's great for charity quilts too. Make sure that the fleece is good quality non-pil polar fleece. Then it will stay in great shape with years of use. I had to make sure that the fleece was not stretched too tightly on my frame otherwise it scrunched up when I took it off. I used a Topstitch 100/16 needle with Bottom Line in the bobbin and lots of different colourful and fun threads like Rainbows, King Tut and Metallics on the top.
  • Time limit - there's nothing quite like a deadline to get people motivated. I'm great at starting things but having an end date certainly helps me to get it done.

Here's a quilting detail from the Ice Cream and Cake Stripy. Click on the image for a great close up. Notice the outine of the cakes in Rainbows #801 Jester. It was fun being whimsical on this one.

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