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In the Quilting World

A Gift of Love

Quilters are generous people. Not only do we make quilts for ourselves and our families and friends, but we make quilts to donate to various charities and organizations or just to someone whom we think might appreciate being wrapped in the hug of a homemade quilt.

Hi, it's Carolyn Beam here again. Thanks for joining me as I share my thoughts about quilting with you. As always, I'd love to hear ideas and suggestions from you as well. Giving back has always been important to me, and one way I can do that is by making and donating quilts.

Before I share more about donation quilts, I'd like to suggest a pattern I think might be of interest to you. The Lucky Log Cabins quilt pattern is quick and easy and a wonderful pattern for using your stash. Lucky Log Cabins is a stash-busting quilt pattern! It would make a wonderful donation quilt.

I recently visited with the Longmont Quilt Guild of Longmont, Colo., on a special day they hold twice each year to work on donation quilts. As with many guilds across the country, community outreach is one of their highest priorities. To date, they have donated over 1,200 quilts to various organizations in the community. Joann Villamarin is their community outreach chairperson, and she shared with me how their program works.

Different organizations where the Longmont Quilt Guild donates quilts -- Click here for larger image
Different organizations where the Longmont Quilt Guild donates quilts.

A poster was put together that shows the different organizations that the guild has donated quilts to over the years.

Twice each year, the guild holds a sewing day during which members can work on quilts that will be given away. The guild has kits that members can take to either make a whole quilt or they can sew just a part of it (either piece, quilt or bind).

Quilt kits for members -- Click here for larger image
Quilt kits for members.
More quilt kits -- Click here for larger image
More quilt kits.

On the day I was there more than 40 guild members participated in the guild's Sew Day.

Members of the Longmont Quilt Guild at their charity Sew Day -- Click here for larger image
Members of the Longmont Quilt Guild at their charity Sew Day.

I would highly encourage you to participate in a community sewing day to make charity quilts if your quilt guild has one. Many quilt guilds collect fabric and supplies and hold sewing days where groups of quilters get together to make donation quilts.

For me personally, I find it easier to make my donation quilts at home as time permits. I recently took 12 quilts to the Front Range Fire Rescue where my son Tim is a lieutenant. The fire department uses these quilts for fire or accident victims.

: Chief Mike West, myself and my son Tim Beam with the quilts I donated -- Click here for larger image
: Chief Mike West, myself and my son Tim Beam with the quilts I donated.

I don't make these quilts as quickly as an organized group like the Longmont Quilt Guild does, but I have found some patterns that work up quickly. One thing I do when sewing is to use the "Leaders and Enders" method while I'm piecing. Many quilters will use a folded piece of fabric to start and end their chain piecing. Instead of using a folded piece of fabric, I use patches for a quilt so that I'm basically working on two quilts at one time. I learned this method from the prolific scrap-quilter Bonnie Hunter. Be sure to check out Bonnie's Quiltville website to learn more about Bonnie, her retreats, books, patterns and the Leaders and Enders method. She also provides many free patterns using Leaders and Enders on her site.

I keep a drawerful of 2 1/2" squares that I stitch together when I begin and end my chain piecing, and these are turned into a quilt. One of the quilts I recently donated was made using my 2 1/2" squares and some additional yardage.

Donation quilt made using 2 1/2" squares plus yardage -- Click here for larger image
Donation quilt made using 2 1/2" squares plus yardage.

This quilt has two types of blocks. One was made with eight 2 1/2" squares of different print fabrics with a center white 2 1/2" square. The second block was made with one 2 1/2" print square, two 2 1/2" white squares and two 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" white rectangles. This design is easy to make using the Leaders and Enders method.

If you're interested in making quilts to donate, here are some helpful useful sizes to know:
Preemie/infant: 18" x 18" up to 30" x 30"
Toddler to teenager: 36" x 52" up to 79" x 90"
Wheelchair: 33" x 40" up to 40" x 40"
Throw/lap: 55" x 65"
Quilts of Valor: minimum size: 55" x 65", recommended size: 60" x 80"

Here are some different organizations that will gratefully accept your quilt donations:
Police and fire departments
Children's hospitals
Quilts of Valor
Cancer treatment centers
Women's shelters
Homeless Outreach
Project Linus or Quilts for Kids
Ronald McDonald House

I put each of the quilts I donate into a large plastic zipper bag (available at most stores). It's helpful to include information about quilt content (100 percent cotton or other) along with washing instructions. Also, check before you donate to see if the organization prefers quilts to be prewashed.

I hope this information has inspired you to give back to your community with a gift of love -- a handmade quilt!

Please stay safe and healthy!

Take care,


Carolyn Beam

Carolyn Beam
Editor, Quilter's World magazine

Carolyn has been quilting for over 40 years. She took her first class when her oldest son was a baby and hasn't stopped since. She has traveled the country teaching and lecturing and has had many designs published in books and magazines. Besides making quilts for family and friends, she also makes quilts to donate to the fire department her youngest son works for. Carolyn is married with three grown sons and one adorable grandson.

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