Sunday, March 25, 2012

More on Prayer Quilt Ministries

The first prayer quilt ministry is that of a church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This ministry is older than the one at my church by several years, and while the intent of the ministry is similar, the way it operates is very different.
First, a quilt is not even begun until they learn of a need or until one has been requested.
All the quilts are made using an identical pattern or set.  The quilts are composed of rows of squares, 5- or 6-inch squares, if I remember correctly.  Each quilt can be assembled in a little more than an hour.
The quilts are not bound, but are just layered and then turned right side out.
The maker inserts a length of yarn or a very narrow ribbon at the corners of each block, through all layers. Then ends of the yarn or ribbon are left on the front and are long enough to tie a bow.
A label is pinned on the quilt, stating who will receive it.
During the church service in which the quilts are blessed/commissioned, each person who lays hands on the quilt and prays for the recipient ties one bow and then moves on to pray over another quilt and tie a bow for that one.

When we asked one of the leaders of that prayer quilt group to come share with us, she was pretty insistent that that was how the quilts had to be done. All the materials for their quilts were donated.

I'm guessing that every group making prayer quilts has similarities to and differences from our group.  Given the diversity in the world, that seems appropriate.

The other prayer quilt group of which I have knowledge, albeit very limited, is that of a Southern Baptist Church in a little town near Nashville, Tennessee.  You can see frequent evidence of this ministry's work at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  (Sarah sponsors the weekly "Whoop Whoop" linky party.)

Sara has graciously allowed me to post pictures of one of their prayer quilts.  This prayer quilt was made when fifteen members of their ministry got together on a Saturday and made a Jacob's Ladder quilt for a special lady.

I especially love the back of the quilt where they penned Bible verses, Christian song lyrics, encouraging words, and even some drawings.

I'm certain there are many, many variations on these themes, dependent upon the needs of the people being served and the people participating in the ministries.

I love that we are able to support others and grow our own faith through our prayers and the work of our hands and hearts.

Happy quiltmaking.....

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Taste of Hawaii

 Months ago a friend handed me this quilt because she didn't know how to quilt it, and I assured her I could come up with something.  So for months I kept walking past it, trying to figure out something.
She'd given it to me already spray basted, and I started to think the spray might stop working before I got started! Sometimes the only way to get started is to start.  So I started--by stabilizing it with So Fine Thread. Then I stitched around on it some more.

I used size 50 so it wouldn't show up much and so the decorative quilting in a heavier thread would show up well.--All fine and dandy except there is no decorative quilting!  Note: Superior Threads has a great website that suggests needle sizes.  They suggest 80/12 which would be okay for piecing.  However, I will admit that I use a 90/14 with this thread for both piecing and quilting.  The link to So Fine Thread in the previous paragraph, gives you a chance to try this thread at a discounted price, just in case you're not already using it.

Anyway, now that I'm at this point, I *still* don't know what I'm going to do for quilting--except that I'll put a smallish meandering feather in the border.  The border is only about 3.5 inches wide.  I'm sure the quilt would be just fine as it is now, but I do think I want to add something special somewhere.  Maybe I just need to stare at it some more.

I'm not quite sure why this quilt makes me think of Hawaii--and I'm not at all sure Hawaii has any of those petroglyph drawings anywhere in that state...Still makes me think of Hawaii!

Happy quilting, all.....

P.S.:  I made some decisions and added some quilting designs.  I'll add some photos below when  I get the opportunity.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Prayer Quilt Ministry

 I've been asked about prayer quilt ministries and how they work.  I have direct knowledge of only two such ministries, although I know there are many in existence. In this post, I'll talk about the ministry at my church.

Our ministry began seven or eight years ago.  One of the women in our church had recovered from cancer, had a huge fabric stash, and felt it should be used to bring comfort and healing to others.  She went before the administrative board, proposed the ministry, received approval, and began.  I joined the effort within the first several months.  Although I'd been making quilts for several decades, my quiltmaking activities had decreased tremendously in the midst of some weighty life challenges, and the ministry gave me the opportunity to "reactivate" with some smaller, more easily complete quilts.

We began with just four of us making quilts, one of whom was an artist who knew how to sew but had never made quilts.  At this point, she is one of our most talented and most prolific quiltmakers.  We've had other people join us and some people move on.  We've been assisted by people who don't make quilts but who do help with binding and other tasks.

Most of our quilts are about 45 X 60 inches, or thereabouts.  It almost always seems that once a quilt is ready for layering, it needs a back that's wider than 42 inches.  Sometimes we piece blocks or strips to make a backing wider.  Sometimes we piece rectangles or squares of fabric for backing.  Sometimes we make smaller, narrower quilts that will work for people in wheelchairs.  Occasionally, we'll even make a bed size quilt for a predetermined recipient. Right now, I have several pieces of batting that are calling me to make some smaller quilts.

Originally, the quilts were just for people challenged by cancer, but within a year we had decided to make them available to people with other health challenges also.  At some point we had to limit their distribution to people of our church and their relatives, friends, and colleagues.

There were several well-meaning non-quiltmakers who thought we should just hand them out to almost anyone, but that was never the intent of our ministry. Last fall one of our church members told me she had seen some similar textiles selling at an event for $40, and we could be selling ours for $30 to $40 and making money.  I was so shocked that I simply replied that I was not willing to work on something for 10 to 40 hours and sell it at that price!  It's hardly a secret that people who don't sew have no idea how many hours go into a quilt.

Some quilts are made solely by one person.  Other quilts are pieced by one person, quilted by another, and bound by a third. Some quiltmakers use published patterns; others use their own designs.

Sometimes we know from the outset who will receive a quilt.  More often we don't know who the recipient will be.  At all steps of the quiltmaking, we pray for the healing of the recipient. Once we have a supply of finished quilts, our church devotes part of a Sunday service to a dedication service.  In that service we usually share stories of people who have received previous quilts, and then, any members of the congregation who wish to do so lay hands on the quilts as we dedicate them to their healing mission.

To the back of each quilt we add a label.
We try to add the label before the quilting is done, so usually the label is not only sewn onto the backing but also quilted through. Although we began by printing the labels on an inkjet printer, we quickly changed to having Spoonflower print them on yardage for us.  The picture on the label is a photograph of the stained glass window behind our altar.

We photograph each quilt, assign a number to it, and attach an information sheet and a letter that explains the purpose of the quilt.  When people need quilts to give to someone, they fill out a very short information sheet that tells who the recipient is, where the recipient is located, the nature of the health challenge, and the name of the person who is giving it to someone.

Often we receive written thank you notes from the recipients, sometimes with wonderful stories of their healing; often we receive a donation from the person who gave the quilt, a family member of the recipient, or from the recipient.  It is my understanding that these donations are directed back into the ministry for expenses.  Sometimes someone has asked to purchase one of the quilts, and we've had to refuse because once a quilt has been dedicated, it can only go to someone who needs a prayer quilt.

The ministry purchases batting in large rolls, which is our biggest expense. Sometimes we receive donations of fabric.  Most of our quilts are made from our stashes or from fabric we purchase ourselves.  Sometimes we work from donated stash or look through the stash cupboard at church for fabrics to add to a quilt or to use for backing or binding. Over the years I've been given several  monetary donations and have been directed to purchase thread for quilting. Quilters outside our church have donated fabric and some incredibly well-pieced quilts that just needed quilting. We've gradually added several storage units for the quilts and usually have a cabinet or shelves of quilts that have been blessed and are ready to be distributed and another unit for quilts that are waiting to be blessed.  We do meet at the church about once a month for four or more hours of cutting, sewing, basting, etc., and of course, we usually have a snack of some kind or people  bring things for a shared lunch.  Sometimes we meet at a member's home.  In addition, we all work on the quilts at our homes.

Although we didn't realize it when we began, the blessings of this ministry go far beyond the recipients of the quilts and their healing.  When we began, I had no idea that I myself would be so blessed by the time I spent sewing and praying for others.  (Every quilt I make now is made while praying for the well being of the recipient.) In addition, making these quilts has encouraged us to take risks and grow in our quiltmaking.  We've all used colors, techniques, and designs we once would have been reluctant to use, and we've all found our quiltmaking skills growing.

More importantly, we've heard many wonderful stories of healing and of the ways the quilts have blessed recipients.  We've even heard stories of the quilts being passed on to others who have experienced healing.  Sometimes we never hear from the recipients, but more often we do hear about how the recipients experienced healing and comfort.

In another post, I'll share about another quilt ministry in our area that does things quite a bit differently.

In the meantime, happy quiltmaking......

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tresor de la Mer

 Here's another finish for Victory Quilts, our prayer quilt ministry.
 It's full of swirlies.
 A few waves thrown in in honor of various crustaceans.

A variety of thread colors.
 And of course, it has some feathers.
I purchased the Twister Template last summer at the Knoxville AQS show.  The top was done probably before the school year started, but it didn't get basted until February. This quilt began as 10 inch squares with a 10 inch border.

The crustacean/beach fabric was a gift from a friend who tried to help me out because I really like making quilts from girly-girl  fabrics and men need prayer quilts too.  I pulled coordinating solids and a couple mottled fabrics from my stash--and I have quite a few squares of those left.  However, I don't think I'll make another quilt from these colors.

I do think it would be fun to make another of these large twister quilts from a group of rose or flower fabrics.  Hmmmm, maybe I should trade my uncut twister squares with someone who has a bunch of rose themed squares.

It's good to have several small quilts completed this year--although I'm already far, far behind where I was by spring a couple of years ago.

For those who have arrived here via Sara's Whoop, Whoop and Mr. Linky: this is not one of may favorite quilts.  In fact, although there are some things I do like about it, I'll be glad to see it move on. You'll find plenty more elsewhere on my blog.

I also linked to Jo's Country Junction.

Happy quilting, all......

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Home to Roost

This quilt has come back home.
 It's "Mrs. Lebo's Kitchen II" and was made in 2009 from one of the first charm packs I ever purchased. Below are photos that show a little bit of the quilting close up.

When I was injured at work a couple of weeks ago, my assistant reminded me to go home and lie under my prayer quilt.  She says she still uses the one she received, even when she is stressed and immediately feels the prayers and love that went into it. She was surprised to learn I didn't have one.  However, in all the years I've been working on prayer quilts, I've had no need for one.

When I went to the cupboard to get a dedicated quilt, this one was still available.  Now I have to say that there have been several times over the past couple of years when I have needed to give a prayer quilt to someone, and this one was not there.  We do encourage our pastor and others giving quilts to take several and let the person choose since at a time when illness or injury changes a life, it seems important to give people a chance to choose.  In any case, when I needed a quilt, this one was available, so it has come home to "roost."  I should say that the injuries I received led the orthopedist to put me on some restrictions for work, but those restrictions  had to do with weight limits.  It was the school principal who refused to allow me to work.  Sadly, I feel that decision translates to "not combat ready," and I really don't think that should be a requirement for teaching.  In the nearly 40 years I've been teaching, I've had only three to five students who were as dangerous as one we're dealing with now, and in all those previous situations the administration took action to keep us safe.

A couple of weeks ago our church had another commissioning service for new quilts.  When we do this, they are placed on the communion railing at the front of the church....

 and this time there were so many that they were also hung on the sound booth at the back of the sanctuary.
During the blessing the people of the church lay hands on the quilts as we pray.  I used to see numerous quilts that I'd worked on.  Now that we've had new sewers join the ministry (we started with just four of us, one of whom had never made quilts and is now expert), there are a lot more quilts from more people.

Below is the altar cloth several of us worked on.  This quilted cloth will be used each time we have a quilt dedication service. I thought I had some closeups of the quilting, but didn't find them.
So, while I'm not allowed to work, I hope to be accomplishing a lot of quilting since quilting and praying provide respite from the excess stress.

Happy quilting, all.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tom-Tom's Star

 This one is for my baby brother's teenage son.  It was requested almost two and a half years ago.  I'm shocked at how long it takes me to get things done now that I'm in a horrible work assignment.  Anyway, this is one more finish.
Actually, this quilt got it's beginning when my baby brother was much younger---I think I drafted and hand pieced the star back in the mid 1980s.

 I included more Lincoln's Platform blocks not only because I've always liked them, but also because our family spent generations in Illinois, and Lincoln was one of my heroes as a child.

Yes, it includes plenty of feathers.  Our church held a blessing for our prayer quilts a week or so ago, so this quilt is ready to travel to the Houston area.

Happy quilting to all.......

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bit o'Green--Nathan's Quilt

 This is my nephew's son's quilt.  Nathan likes tractors almost as much as he likes trains.
I've made quite a few John Deere quilts for our prayer quilt ministry and really did not think I'd make another one. Then I found this border fabric shortly before Alco discontinued all their fabrics.

 The windmill blocks were quilted with a variety of patterns, as were all the other blocks, but I liked this little dragon fly the best.
 The yellow row got some leaves, that really don't show up all that well in the photo.  (Some day I'll have a better location to take quilt photos--someday.)
 Despite the fact that it's a tractor quilt, my favorite part is the hogs in the center of the Lincoln's Platform blocks.  The hog fabric is all gone except for several itsy-bitsy scraps--and Nathan will undoubtedly call them pigs or piggies.

Now I need to make a decision about a quilt for Nathan's sister that is bigger than the doll quilt that was my last 2011 finish. I have several quilt tops ready to be layered and quilted, but I'm not sure which best suits her.

One of my friends asked me if I'd quilt a small quilt for her.  She said, "You don't have to do anything fancy like feathers."  I had to admit that I would have a hard time doing a quilt without feathers.  Yes, even the guys get feathers.  Given the many generations of hunters in our family, it never occurred to me that they might not want feathers.

(I linked to Karen't Sew Crafty party.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Robin's Song

 This began as two of these. The fabrics are Papillon by 3 Sisters for Moda Fabrics.

 The pattern is "A Ritzy Cracker Quilt" by Mary Lane Brown of The Tulip Patch
Yes, I know it's unusual for me to use another designer's pattern.  However, I love asymmetrical blocks sometimes--and I'm always looking for patterns that work well with free motion quilting. Mary's pattern will let both the fabric and the quilting shine!

Where Mary used white, I used a robin's egg blue that has much less gray than the blue in this fabric line, so it turned out perfect!
 I love the three butterfly specimen fabrics in this line--one beige on beige, one blue on blue, and one gray on beige.

 However, for the border I'm adding to this quilt, I chose this blue.  Its design is scattered enough to share some of the limelight with the quilting. I ordered the border fabric  and some of one of the gray prints for binding from Somewhere Sewing.

 Since two days ago my yard looked like this, I'm ready for spring.  I sewed this on my treadle, watching this tree, that was not filled with birds today since the snow is gone and they were busy looking for food.

My friend sent me this partial quilt top that she created from a charm pack. She decided she didn't like it--but I'll add a border and will have a great time quilting it.
The Robin's Song quilt is for a tiny little girl, but I'm not sure about the destination of the charm square quilt--although I do know that it will be full of prayers for whoever receives it.

We did have another prayer quilt dedication at church Sunday, but I didn't take a single picture--although my camera was lollygagging in my purse!
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