The Healing Art of Sewing and Quilting

There is nothing more in this world that I could ever want to be known for then this deeply meaningful journey that I have been on in my journey of creating with my hands and from my heart as I give and share my stories, my blogging, and most of all my sewing and quilting for others.

The act of sharing and giving from a full and loving heart fills me to the brim with a sense of purpose and  the deepest spiritual essence of knowing that I am truly making a difference in the lives of others.

This has always been my focus whether I have been involved in community quilting where I went down to local community centers, or various churches to quilt with as few as half a dozen to as many as 200 other quilters from around my community.

And whether I am here in Salem, Oregon or in my hometown where I sewed at home, or in the homes of  my beloved family members on beautiful Douglas Island across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau, Alaska, as I have traveled back and forth, multiples times a year, helping my mother and father, but during that journey also helping others.

Links to Making Kuspuks in Alaska:



Sewing Kuspuks Again!

Juneau Empire Photos: Parka party 01/18/08 video

Kuspuks Make Front Page News

How to make a kuspuk

KTUU, Anchorage News: Our classroom featured as State Legislators wear their own kuspuks on 
Kuspuk Fridays

Kuspuks Go to the Capitol

Whether I am teaching young children to sew kuspuks, or to make simple stenciled pillows, or making the simplest of quilts, it is the connection between heart and hands and another, that matters the most.

American Patchwork and Quilting "Quilters Who Make a Difference"

American Patchwork & Quilting (August 2011)

Quilts by Mona Follis, Julie Parker, and Michele Bilyeu are featured in a full page article about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative called "Quilting Changes Everything" on page 1 in the August 2011 edition of American Patchwork & Quilting.

These small 9" x 12" quilts are part of the AAQI's traveling exhibit, "Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope."

Art from the Heart: Quilting Arts Magazine

'Breast Pockets' for Melanie Testa' -- original project on Melanie's blog
My journey to finding support: FLAT & Fabulous!

Or contributing to special and unique projects inspired by quilting and sewing bloggers artists of the heart that I admire, such as Melanie Testa of the "The Breast Cancer Project" where she has dedicated much of her own time and heart into education others about the truth of breast cancer and those who choose not to reconstruct, and why. 

When I was thanked for my contributions to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)

I felt as deeply honored as if I was a world class master quilter (as I was erroneously referred to in an Alaskan newspaper ;) or had published a million best sellers, I self-published one book and four + blogs- or been in dozens of magazines.

It can be the smallest thought, the tiniest connection with another's heart, or it can be a anything at all that makes my day and brings out the most gigantic 'inner smile' that can radiate through the darkest day or the most challenging of times.

We ALL make a difference each and every time we make a quilt and give that quilt to another. We ALL make a difference when we visit other blogs and leave a kind comment or help another through a hard time.

We ALL make a difference when we help another process through challenging emotions or fears or help them raise themselves up to higher ground.

Through all of these dark years of  our countries involvement in wars and battles, through a multitude of horrific national disasters and the destruction of American lives and homes from natural disasters, I have had to choose between feelings of hopelessness and depression or putting my hands and heart into action.

Quilting and sewing for others is a healing art. It helps to heal our own hearts and our own souls from the losses and pains of our own lives, whether those losses are from the past, present, and both the expected and unexpected future.

I began joining in quilting groups in 2005 after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  I joined 200 other quilters at the Salem Convention Center in Salem, Oregon and in an amazing 2 days, those 200 quilters made a monumental 200 quilts that found their ways into the temporary living quarters of survivors of that hurricane.

When Hurricane Rita hit the gulf coast, soon after, we continued our quilting and donating to disaster relief by working in the donated space of a local church. I sewed every Monday and many Tuesdays from morning to evening and did my best to create and donate at least 25 quilts a year to various disaster relief organizations and causes.

Our group, and groups just like us made and donated hundreds and hundreds of quilts and sent those quilts on their own journeys to new homes all over America, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Japan.

As the tragedy of 9-11 struck the hearts and souls of Americas, and caused the devastation to the World Trade Center of New York City, I hung my own version of an American 'Peace' Flag in my entry way with this creation of a string pieced quilt that formed a large heart.

And I made dozens and dozens of red, white, and blue quilts, bags, pillows, and other gifts for our wounded warriors as they returned home from battles in Iran, Iraq, and Afganistan.

 And I continued to blog and to document my own experiences and the experiences of others that inspired me by sharing  my own list linked below to:

I needed to think and feel and be a kind and loving supporter and not an angry one.

So, I do what I do - I made quilts and bags, and wheelchair support pillows and then, more and more quilts!

When my mother was diagnosed with Stage 3b of Inflammatory Breast Cancer and had less the a 2% chance of surviving it, she was sent down from Alaska to Seattle, and I brought her and my father then down to Salem OR to live with me.

We went through her chemo, her mastectomy, and her radiation together. Day by day, step by step, heart to heart, and hands holding hands.  And she survived for more than a decade later.

Ultimately,  manifesting Alzheimer's Disease, another challenging but incredibly meaningful journey with my beloved mother.  And of course, during all of this....

I made quilts!

Now, adding more reasons and new causes to contribute to. And I shared free patterns, tutorials, and links to more and more quilts both on this my primary blog  With Heart and Hands and my other backup separate blogs, posts, and pages.

Free Patriotic Quilt Patterns


When my mother survived the breast cancer to be stricken with Alzheimer's. Well, it took me a couple of years to get going on that one, as I was going up to Alaska a lot more often to help my parents out. But when I got that in stride, I made more and more quilts!


Quilts, Health, and Healing *With Heart and Hands*

By the end of my mother's more than 8 years of battling the challenges of Advanced Alzheimer's Disease, I had made and donated 75 small format art quilts to Ami Simm's  Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)

Together, with multiple small groups and even many more thousands of individual quilters, we  earned more than $1,000,000 for Alzheimer's Research Funding!


When I knew that my efforts and the efforts of others, needed even more quilters and even more quilts, I formed my own quilting group the AAQI Liberated Quilting Challenge, and our own  AAQI Group Challenge  and with a combined total of less than 3 dozen quilters, my small group created and donated more than 600 quilts to AAQI!

When little babies were born far too soon and didn't make it, or were never born at all. And grief filled up my heart to feel that loss. Then, I made more and more quilts for miscarried and premature babies.

Some of these quilts were so tiny, that they made you cry just to look at them, but the making of them somehow eased the pain of those losses in my heart and in the hearts of others.

And when children needed fosters homes, or needed help surviving abusive homes, I made and encouraged others to make pillow cases for foster children along with quilts for babies, and toddlers, older children, teens at risk and foster care kids.

There is always a need whether they think they want and need one or not they do! And once they accept that quilt, or that pillowcase, or that gift made with our hearts and by our hands, somehow just knowing that someone else someone they didn't even know cared that much about them, well it makes a difference.

And in that creation of making and giving quilts, somehow, my own losses, my own aches, and pains, and my own grief was assuaged.  When we sew and when we quilt, our spirits are lifted and we feel better and happier, inside and out.

I use the healing gifts that I have been blessed with, and I take those energies and infuse fabric with heart, and thought, and caring, and prayer and I send them off into the world. That is the essence of a healing quilt, a prayer quilt, a quilt.

Be kind to one another in word and deed and make a difference in some one elses life today, and everyday.  And then think about making and giving away quilts for charitable giving and charitable
causes. I just know you'll feel a whole lot better!

You'll look at yourself differently, your life differently, your aches and pains and challenges differently, and you will alchemize the transformative process that is really and truly mind over matter -- the unity of mind, body, and spirit -- by the act of giving, and the gratitude for what you do have  and not just focusing on your own sadness, or your own losses or depression. Focus on what you do have, what you are grateful for and give to others as you also create a form of giving to yourself.

Free Quilting and Sewing Patterns and Tutorials:

With Heart and Hands: Free Quilt Block Patterns

With Heart and Hands: Free Quilt Block Patterns: Updated

Free Breast Cancer Quilt Patterns

Free Cancer Awareness Quilt Patterns

Includes Ribbons, Patterns, Links and Tutorials Ideas for All Cancers, including Breast Cancer

Free Patriotic Quilt Patterns

  Free Patriotic Quilt Patterns:

Support our Wounded Warriors!


With Heart and Hands: Free Sewing Accessories Patterns: Updated 2013

 With Heart and Hands: Free Sewing Accessories Patterns: Updated  

Wonderful Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Needs Friendship or Support!


Free Babie's and Childrens Quilt Patterns

Free Babies and Children's Quilt Patterns: Updated 2014

Angel Wraps and Preemie Patterns

Angel Wraps and Preemie Patterns


Free Snowman//Christmas Quilt Patterns

  Free Snowman//Christmas Quilt Patterns

Quilt, Craft, and Gift for All of the Winter Holidays!


 Free St.Patricks/Irish Quilt Patterns:


Free Easter Quilt Patterns

Free Easter, Passover and Spring Quilt Patterns


Free Hexagon Patterns and Papers

  Free Hexagon Patterns and Papers


Free Sunbonnet Sue and Sam Patterns

Free Sunbonnet Sue and Sam Patterns

 Free Redwork and Embroidery Patterns


 String Quilting: Free Patterns, Primers, Links, and Tutorials

Wonky, Liberated, Improvisational 

Bento'ed Out of My Box  by Michele Bilyeu 


And just for fun!

What Type of Quilter Are You?

What Type of Quilter Are You?


My Other Creative Sewing and/or Quilting Community Projects

Making Kuspuks in Alaska:


Miscellaneous Links to Charitable Causes for Children:

To find a Project Linus Chapter near you, check out:

To find other charitable giving organizations for children, check out:

Quilts for Kids

Downy's Quilts for Kids Comfort programs 

AZ Blankets for Kids

Wrap Them in Love

Quilts 4 Leukaemia

Sunshine Quilts
Margaret's Hope Chest,

Binky Patrol

And: Any local hospital that serves children with special medical needs will almost have quilt donation programs.

Miscellaneous Links to Charitable Causes for Adults:

  • Please donate patriotic quilts to any wounded warrior program..there are many, to your local Veteran's organization, or to any VA hospital. 
  • Donate quilts of any size, or most sizes, to a local quilt guild. They usually give to dozens of local causes on a monthly delivery system basis.
  • Donate quilts to any local hospice organization, care or nursing home. Please request that they NOT be kept by staff members as we have seen this, unfortunately happen.
  • Please donate to ANY local church group. See the above..see this happen, as well. 
  • Donate to any hospital. Quilts are needed for those undergoing chemotherapy for most cancers, in preemie wards, and for sick children everywhere.