Quilts for a Cause
A few years ago, I came to the conclusion that I have enough quilts. Many of my friends make quilts as gifts for others. Their generous spirit astounds me. I make quilts because I need to create something or I would drive my family and friends bonkers. Because of this, I make and then figure out what to do with them. Which leads me back to my initial statement: I came to the conclusion that I have enough quilts.
After this eye-opening realization, I started focusing on making quilts flagged for a reason, a need, or a good cause - whether it is for someone I know personally, or a global issue that I can humbly help bring awareness to. Here at See How We Sew, we have spent the past few weeks discussing different types of quilts. Kirsten wrote an excellent post about Fundraising with Quilts, followed by Julia's informative post on Quilts by Commission. I am finishing up the conversation by discussing Quilts for A Cause. All of this information will be available to you on our Information Page for you to revisit these topics when needed.
I just finished working on a quilt for The Advocacy Project, You may remember Kirsten mentioning this organization in her last post. The Advocacy Project helps marginalized communities to tell their stories. In the case of my piece, that community is a neighborhood in Kenya. I hope you take time to read the Quilts Vision and History behind The Advocacy Project. They have a wonderful history of using textiles as a tool for therapy, human rights, and advocacy. Women and children are taught a skill, like embroidery, and then their work is paired with quilters from other countries to create art quilts for an exhibit and auction.
This is the beautiful embroidery block I was given, created by Evelin Ndanu from a neighborhood in Kenya called Kengemi. I felt an immediate connection to Evelin after reading her story. It seemed so appropriate that she chose a lioness as her subject.
My plan was to begin a narrative on the role of a lioness in her pride, but leave room for the viewer to craft their own story. While researching Evelin's neighborhood, Kenjemi, I found this photo on a website, Kenjemi Resource Center. I immediately fell in love with the children in this photo. Even though their facial expressions were hidden by the masks, each child seem to tell its own story through their expressive eyes and body language.
I used them as inspiration to help tell the story of my quilt, and tried to create the face I imagined was under the masks. I am not sure I did these beautiful children justice, but I tried my best to keep the story going.
Incorporating Evelin's lioness was a challenge for me. I wanted to integrate it into the textural piece I was creating, without disturbing her beautiful embroidery work. I wanted it to be obvious what part was made by her, but have it merge with the rest of the quilt.
And so, now that you know all the elements contained in the quilt - here is the finished quilt, Protecting Her Pride.
The entire piece was done by hand with torn and raveled fabric, then collaged and stitched in place. I used fabric markers to add color to the children's skin and school uniforms.
Protecting Her Pride will be included in an October auction, and hopefully an exhibition at the National Textile Museum as in past years. Find out more on their website under The Sister Artists Kenya Quilts.
In her post, Kirsten mentioned an "in progress" quilt by Judy Miller, Yvonne Miller, and Nancy Hershberger that is also part of The Advocacy Project. The three collaborated to set 14 embroidered blocks from women in Kenya. The blocks all relate to the women’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the quilt will eventually be used in a vaccination and information campaign. Here is the finished quilt. They really did a beautiful job of showcasing the blocks.
There are so many ways to get involved in making quilts for a cause.
The following is just a small list of organizations doing the good work.
Dedicated to making patchwork quilts to comfort children facing serious illness, trauma, abuse, and natural disasters.
Covering Service Members and Veterans touched by War with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.
Deanna Davis Community Quilt Project
Over the years East Bay Heritage Quilters, (EBHQ,) has provided thousands of small and large quilts to the greater hospitals, shelters, and organizations as well as to disaster victims across the nation and worldwide. Last year alone, they donated 1300 quilts to those in need. They have just started a collection drive for the Afghanistan Refugees in their area. You can get more details on their EBHQ Facebook page.
Each quilt guild has its own version of a community based group to give quilts to those in need, and it holds a very important role in local outreach. I am highlighting EBHQ, because I am a member of this guild, and will be forever influenced by the tireless work of the woman that spearheaded this phenomenal committee from the beginning, Deanna Davis. I wanted to share the write up from the EBHQ website:
"In 1988 Diana Dehler founded Children's Quilt Project to make quilts for children with AIDS. The project grew with tremendous community support, and when it officially ended in 1996, the Children's Quilt Project was adopted by EBHQ under the name of Children's Quilts/EBHQ and headed by Deanna Davis. This grew to include the Community Quilt Bank where our members made larger quilts for families of disasters. Deanna Davis tirelessly organized and led these projects until her death in March, 2015. Her impact was so great that now a committee is needed to fill her shoes. After Deanna's death, EBHQ's Board of Directors voted to rename Children's Quilts/EBHQ to Deanna Davis Community Quilt Project (DDCQP)."
Every quilter and every guild has their own preferences when it comes to donating quilts to folks in need. Be sure to check with your local quilt guild to see what community outreach programs they are involved in. Maybe there is a cause near and dear to your heart that your guild could support.
"Piecing together youth voices, textile art, & community in a 21st Century Sewing Circle."
I could spend an entire day writing about the incredible work being done by this organization. Instead, I will share a few links for you to view on your own. Bear with me first, and please read my summation of why I love this organization so much:
The beauty, to me, of what is being done at SJSA is bringing people together from all walks of life, to bring awareness to issues that we all face in today's world. A teen in Kentucky may attend a SJSA workshop and make a fabric collage block about an issue that concerns him. That block may be passed on to a woman in Chicago to stitch the artwork into place. The block is then sent to someone like me, to set a group of blocks into a quilt top, which will then be quilted by someone else. When finished, the quilt will be exhibited at events and museums all over the country. The statement that the teen from Kentucky felt so strongly about has now traveled the country and been touched by the hands of volunteers from all walks of life, and now is viewed by everyone. This is what I love about SJSA.
Here is one of the quilts that I worked on for SJSA, along with Nancy Williams, the ever-so-talented longarm quilter from A Quilting Fool . It is now on exhibit somewhere in Pennsylvania, and so the story continues.
I wish I had a better photo to show off the incredible quilting that Nancy did on this quilt. It literally brought tears to my eyes when I saw it! I used improvisational line and piecing to draw your eye through out the quilt, and Nancy was able to accentuate that line movement with her quilting. It was stunning.