Quilting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time Katherine Bell. STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book (October 1, 2009)
Quilting for peace is a generously spirited book about sewing and giving, making the quilts and reading the engaging and insightful essays that begin each chapter, stirs the heart and hopefully will galvanise to action those quilters and sewers who wish to use their skills to reach out to those in need.
Patterns and instructions for quilts and toys and other useful objects you can make to give to charity, have been thoughtfully offered here by designers and crafters who make part of their core business to be philanthropic. The projects are appealing and simple enough for you to make with your spare materials and in a weekend – although there are some more challenging projects that would make for excellent community projects.
Author Katherine Bell gives us some tips on finding free fabric to make quilts for charity.
Recycling fabric into quilts and other useful things to give away helps not only the people who receive the gifts, but the rest of us as well. The average American throws away more than 60 pounds of fabric a year, and discarded textiles take up four percent of our landfills. A quarter of the insecticides used globally each year are used on cotton crops, so growing new cotton to replace what we’ve thrown away is also bad for the environment. The resourceful crafters I interviewed for Quilting for Peace have found many sources of free fabric to use in their projects. Here are a few:
Intercept clothes on their way to Goodwill
Ask friends and coworkers to give used clothing to you instead of Goodwill or your local charity shop or op shop. Cotton shirting fabrics – solids, stripes, plaids, etc – are perfect for quilting projects. Corduroy is great for tote bags and to add a bit of texture to patchwork.
Help quilters replenish their stashes
Put up a sign in your local quilt store asking for fabric donations. Most quilters buy far more fabric than they can possibly use. Deciding to give some away makes them feel less guilty when they’re in the middle of buying more.
Seek professional help
The textile, clothing, and interior design industries throw away a huge amount of fabric. Contact fabric companies, clothing manufacturers, and design showrooms and ask for donations of samples, offcuts, or discontinued materials. Fabric and sewing supply companies may be willing to donate materials in return for publicity too.
Don’t forget sheets
Sheets softened by use make great quilt backs or whole-cloth quilts. Hotels are required by law to replace bed linen on a regular basis. Some regularly donate “gently used” sheets to homeless shelters; it’s worth asking if they’ll save you a few. A friend recently upgraded from a queen to a king bed and gave me three sets of perfectly good sheets to use for the Sleeping Bag Project.
Find a craft supply junkyard
In some cities, nonprofit groups collect art supplies — including textiles — and redistribute them to schools, artists, and volunteer crafters. In New York City, for example, Material for the Arts has a warehouse full of amazing materials. In San Francisco, there’s SCRAP: Scroungers’ Center for Reusable Art Parts. Freecycle and craigslist are also good sources.
Use blankets instead of buying batting
Fleece or wool blankets make perfectly good substitutes for store-bought batting. Just be sure that whatever you use as the middle layer of your quilt is lighter in color than the front and back.
Save scraps for string quilts
Even very small pieces of fabric left over from crafting projects can be used in future quilts. String piecing is an incredibly satisfying technique — to make each patch, you sew narrow scraps of fabric to a muslin foundation. If you have short scraps, you can use the same process to make a Chinese coin quilt.
Find out how to join the quilting for peace campaign and more about this book here.