Quilters are generous people, making many quilts for various charities throughout the world. In the UK there are many charities which you can make quilts for, some more well known than others. Linus is an obvious one, making quilts for children of all ages. Another I was privileged to be involved with is Quilts for Care Leavers who make quilts for young adults who are leaving the care system.

This summer the awful events in Afghanistan left me feeling very sad and wanting to help in some way. Now, when I suggested making quilts for refugees I did face some comments about how the money might be better donated directly – quilts are expensive to make – but, like many others I guess, I am fabric rich, cash poor. The fabrics I’ve collected over years or even the scraps I insist on keeping (to my husbands frustration!) could easily be made into a welcoming, practical gift for displaced people. Whatever your political leanings or thoughts on what happened, and I don’t want to get into that on this wonderful site, making quilts for those in need is something many of us can do.

Strictly Quilting Cabin
Jo hard at work!

The idea is good but making time can be another stumbling block. One of the best ways I’ve found is to set a day aside. With this in mind, I set a ‘Charity Sew Day’ and invited people to join me at my studio – Strictly Quilting HQ – early in October.

The ladies that joined me were Cheryl Davies (another of the Bloggerati for UKQU), Jo Riou (Long-arm Quilter) and last, but certainly not least, my Auntie Linda.

We planned to sew from 10 to 4 and I had arranged lunch for us from a local restaurant, The Red Door Deli, who supply lovely lunches for my day workshops.

The charity we were making for – a Facebook based group Care-ing Quilts – provide quilts for refugee children. Initially it was set up to provide for those coming from Syria but after the horrible events in Afghanistan recently, they have widened their brief to include these children as well. There are a few requirements, such as the size, but also there must be no faces or animals (especially pigs and dogs) used.

Cheryl’s Quilt

The quilters gathered and we began to work on our creations. Cheryl brought with her a quilt top pre-made using some fabric she had been sent to review. She had used some lovely 10″ squares for which she had created a clever design, ideal for a Layer Cake or similar. You can find her blog here about using this lovely Tranquility fabric from Makower here.

Jo had decided to follow a pattern and took the day to cut out some of the fabrics and begin assembly. My Aunt Linda started working on some batiks, some of hers and some from my stash. As to my quilt, I raided my scraps dividing them into colours. Warm colours together such as yellows, oranges and reds. Purples and pinks. Blues and greens with the odd dash of greys. It was this last collection which I decided to work with.

Blocks in construction
Completed Quilt

I went for an improv, quick piecing method. Taking a strip at a time, just joining together in a rough Log Cabin design. This can be adapted to a Courthouse Steps style – adding pieces either side of a central square. Both these methods are great for using up scraps and I was really pleased with the result. Continue adding fabric strips, which can be uneven in width which adds interest, until you reach a block size you would like. I went for a 12 1/2″ square, partly to make assembly quicker with a larger block but also because I happen to have a 12 1/2″ square ruler which makes it easy to trim to size.

By the end of the day Cheryl had completed her quilt and mine was well on the way. Both Jo and Linda took theirs home to finish at the end of a lovely, positive day.

Rear of quilt with added strip.

I had completed nine blocks and joined them together with sashing and layered the quilt ready for quilting when I re-read the size instructions and realised that I had made it a little too small. The ideal size is 40″ by 60″ which is large enough to wrap a young adult. This called for a little inspiration and so I made another three blocks and added them to the quilt front. The back also required a little adaptation to make bigger and to do this I dipped back into my scrap bag again. Luckily I also had a little more of the backing fabric so this was an easy fix. A strip of joined scraps inserted into the backing fixed the problem.

So to the quilting. I went for a quick, straight line walking foot quilting. The wadding I’d used was the remainder of a sample that Vlieseline had kindly provided – 278 Soya mix is soya mixed with cotton. It’s come to be one of my favourite waddings as it’s beautiful to work with and so soft with a lovely drape.

I was able to send off the two finished quilts a few weeks ago and I hope they bring some comfort to the recipients as they have certainly been made with love.

If you would like to join us on our next ‘Sew Day’ then keep an eye on my Facebook page where I will post details.

If you would be interested in making quilts for Care-ing Quilts look for them on Facebook. Quilts for Care Leavers can also be found here. Both have supportive groups with the full requirements on their group pages.

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