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The Undeniable Power of a Group Project

Since retiring from teaching, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my quilting business -- how to get started, what I can do to attract customers, what services I can offer to my customers, what I can do to expand my quilting experiences, and what can I do to add some volunteer activities to my time. I was already familiar with the Quilts of Valor program and always thought that would be something that I would like to do. As I thought about getting involved with QOV, I realized that it would be fun to make quilts with a group of people rather than just doing it alone. While I am just fine spending my day quilting in my sewing room all by myself, I also realized that in retirement I would not have the opportunity to be with a group of people on a daily basis like I was when I was teaching. And while I had never quilted in a group before, the idea really appealed to me.

Before I go too much further, let me tell you a bit about the Quilts of Valor Foundation. This is a national organization whose mission is to “cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor”. They connect quiltmakers to long-arm quilters and binders. They connect quilts to veterans. To date, over 144,000 quilts have been awarded. We are fortunate to have several veterans who live in our small community of 586 people. I thought that this would be a great way to honor these veterans and give back to our wonderful community. Freeman Public Schools in Adams has a very nice Veteran’s Day assembly on November 11th each year and I thought that would be a great place to award a Quilt of Valor. I contacted the superintendent and he was equally enthusiastic about adding this to their assembly.

So I made a list of people in our area who I thought might be interested in this project. I was hoping to come up with a group of about four to five. I planned for us to meet for about two hours once a week. One person had no sewing experience at all, but I assured her that if she could iron then we could definitely use her skills. Another one said that she would come the first week, but did not know if she could make it all of the time. She has only missed once since we began eight weeks ago. One group member brought her granddaughter one week and she has been talking about her

experience ever since. She loved coming to “quilt club” and we hope that she can come again as she was a huge help. Over the weeks, we have had a fairly steady group of four with a couple others coming just occasionally.

I began by choosing one fairly easy pattern from a Fons and Porter quilting magazine -- they always feature at least one Quilt of Valor pattern in each issue. I checked my stash to see what fabric I might have and then purchased the remainder. On our first day, we had one person ironing and two people cutting fabric. At our subsequent meetings, we generally had two people sewing, one person ironing, and I “directed traffic”, trying to keep everyone organized and busy. Our first quilt came together in just a few weeks and we were thrilled with the results. I completed the quilt on my long-arm and also did the binding.

Even before our first quilt was completed, the ladies began talking about a second and third quilt. So we began the process all over again. We are looking forward to awarding our first quilt to a veteran who resides at the Gold Crest Retirement Center in Adams, as well as awarding quilts at the Veteran’s Day Assembly in November. Stay tuned for another blog detailing our future quilting endeavors and our presentations of the Quilts of Valor.

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