Friday, June 9, 2017


The first time I began to understand the power of a women's group, I was sitting in a classroom taking a quilting class. We were all working on our own squares, piecing together our own patterns. I listened to the conversation rise and fall, surprised by the lack of competitiveness and of ego. I was young and that moment opened my eyes to an experience that I seek often. I've joined women's reading groups, political action groups, writing and craft groups. Within those groups, I discovered how a group can encourage and support each member to be more than themselves.

Quilters have a long tradition of quilting with others or for others. I remember the power of the AID/HIV Memorial Quilt Project with many quilts stretched across the public spaces of Washington, D.C. I think of the Gee's Bend quilts and the other quilters who will piece together t-shirts and other clothing items to make a memory quilt.

My aunt Ella Mae produced many quilts and belonged to a group who shared fabric and challenged each other with different themes. My friend Mary has a studio in her home that she devotes to quilting. She makes beautiful quilts for friends, family and as auction items each year.

A section of the quilt that Mary made for me.

Appliqued pieces around the edges of the quilt

When the tragic events occurred in Orlando a couple of years ago, Jill, another quilting friend, created a quilt using squares made by my craft group. When the quilt was finished, there were several leftover squares, which another friend, Marcia, and I sewed to make another quilt. This quilt, when finished, will go to one of the charities that sends quilts to a person in need.

Craft Day quilt completed

Second quilt from Craft Day pieces

Teresa, another prodigious quilter, explained how she put together this beautiful blue and white quilt.

Finished quilt in a blue bedroom

"The blue and white quilt that I made was actually created by a 'modern' quilting bee, one of many that exist internationally between people who may never have met. Each woman in the group of 10 is assigned a month. In her month, she can make the distribution as flexible or specific as she likes. She can mail fabric or just give guidelines and let people chose their own fabrics. The blocks are returned to her within that month (hopefully!) and she assembles them into a quilt adding whatever else she needs.

"For the blue and white quilt, I gave each person two white triangles, many strips of different-colored blues, and a foundation paper pattern. They sewed the blues together in the order that they chose onto the foundation paper. (Foundation paper is thin and gets ripped off once the block is complete.) This technique is called foundation piecing and ensures that the blue strip, while sewn in wonky seams, ended up the right size. Then they added the white triangles. I made these oversized and squared up each block myself after the pieces were returned.

One square from Teresa's 'many hands' quilt
"After getting the blues-only blocks back, I decided the quilt needed a little 'zing' color. The blocks with green (and all but 10 of the blue ones) were made by me. I asked each person to sign her block, too. It's a nice memory. Most of the women used a permanent fabric marker. One woman embroidered her name."

Quilting is one way to connect with other people, sometimes across the globe. What begins as a small effort can touch all parts of our world. The quilts are made with love and friendship, with many hands touching the fabric, and end up wrapping someone else in love.

Read more about inspiring quilts and places to donate quilts:


  1. There is nothing like putting a bunch of scraps together to make something beautiful. And isn't amazing how many different and beautiful quilts there are. Each unique and special.

    1. You are so right, Janet. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  2. Lovely quilts. I especially love the blue and white one!

    1. Thank you, Jan. I'll pass your comments on to the quilters.

  3. I love your story on quilting Martha. While most of my experiences to date have been with on line quilters, I'm continually awed by the sense of partnership, the power and collective strength of all of us working towards a common goal. It was fun chatting with you ever so briefly today on the plane!

  4. Thank you, Patty, for readiing my quilting post. Quilters inspire me. It was fun to share a few moments on the plane!

  5. I was honored to be mentioned as a part of your blog on quilting and friendship. Two of my most favorite things in the world.

    1. thank you, Mary, for sharing your wonderful workmanship and your friendship!


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