In my continuing quest for new experiences during my retirement, I added yet another to my list earlier this month. Many quilt guilds and sewing groups have "sew days" where they get together and spend the day working on either individual projects or a group project. February 4th was Quilt of Valor's National Sew Day and I spent the day in York sewing with a group to make quilts to award to veterans.
The Sew Day was held at the York County Fairgrounds Event Center. There were 13 sewing machines, five ironing stations, and two cutting stations. Some people brought their own machines and others were supplied a machine by the Extension office. Some people worked individually while others worked in pairs. The ages of the participants ranged from 10-year-olds to ladies who were using a walker. There was one high school-aged boy who was working on his 4th Quilt of Valor. One 10-year-old girl who working on her second QOV. She proudly told me about her first quilt that she awarded to a veteran in January. She was so excited that her picture was printed in the local newspaper!
The organizer of the event had 20 kits -- pre-cut fabric and a pattern -- from which we could choose. I chose a pattern called Two by Two by Tony Jacobson. The kit included seven different patriotic prints and one background fabric. After studying the pattern, I discovered that it was primarily made up of 2 1/2" squares. So my day was spent sewing 320 print squares to 320 background squares. I was able to chain piece them, so that helped to make my sewing go a little quicker. If I make this pattern again, I will cut the fabrics into strips and sew those together first before cutting the 2 1/2" segments apart.
While I enjoyed the day stitching, pressing, and getting to know other quilters, I was frustrated by the fact that my machine did not work very well. The stitches looked fine, but it was making sounds that I had never heard before. I tried re-threading the top thread, re-threading the bobbin thread, changing needles, and oiling the machine. Nothing made any difference. So I just sewed slowly unless the noisy heater in the building was on in which case it covered up the awful sound of my sewing machine! One of the ladies seated near me asked me about my machine later in the day. She wondered if I liked it and I told her that I did. Then she said that it just sounded so different from hers. Ha! I then told her that I had never heard it sound like that before and that it would be going to the repair shop on Monday!
My quilt top was not complete when the day was done, but I asked the organizer if I could take it home to finish. I had definitely bonded with the fabric by that time and really didn’t want anyone else to finish it!! She was fine with that idea and was even more thrilled when I told her that I could quilt it on my long-arm and do the binding. She knew that I lived in Adams and told me to contact the Gage County Extension office when the quilt was complete. She often has requests from them for Quilts of Valor, sometimes to be awarded at the Homestead National Monument. I'm excited that this quilt will be awarded close to home and will be sure to report back to you regarding its destination.
All in all, it was a fun experience to sew with others and share our common interest in making quilts for veterans. While I can now check that experience off of my list, I hope it will not be the last time that I am able to participate in a "sew day". My quilt guild in Panama does this once a month, so maybe that will be my next one. Or maybe I should find a Quilting Cruise -- now that would really be fun!!