Showing posts sorted by relevance for query comfort quilts. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query comfort quilts. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, November 16, 2007

Comfort Quilts For Charitable Causes

For a week now, I have been sorting, organizing and sewing together colorful strings of fabric from one of my many scrap bags. I wanted to create a quilt that would still honor the Veteran's Day weekend, yet could be given to a Veteran in a hospice setting.

I focused my awareness on the energies of these past two weeks. The power of a new moon, the energies of pride and honor for the holiday, and the synchronicity of Veteran's Day being on 11:11, creates an open doorway to change and possibilities.

Thus, the energies would be good and strong and could be used with positive intent, for creating a healing quilt. I did an alternative form of hospice work for many years, using my therapeutic touch, Reiki and other healing gifts for people facing catastrophic illness. While extremely challenging in many senses, it was extraordinarily rewarding, in others.

The idea of creating 'comfort quilts' seemed like the perfect way to blend that aspect of myself with my love of sewing and quilting. It is a very different opportunity for being a loving part of someone's final experiences in this lifetime and yet still surrounding them with healing love from my heart and by my hands. Only now, I did not have to be present at either their home, or their hospital quilt would carry that love, instead.

All quilts give comfort, so in that sense all are 'comfort quilts'. But the term is usually used to refer to quilts which are given to hospitals, hospice or those with terminal illnesses as a means of keeping them warm, showing care and caring, and creating a symbolic bridge between their present lifetime and the next, as well as then being passed on from the dying person to their loved ones.

Customarily, the quilt is given from the heart and hands of the quilter to the heart and into the hands of the recipient and finally, after their passing, into the heart and hands of the family who receives it as part of their last legacy of loving memories. Instead of being totally somber and tragic, it actually can alter the energies in a loving and healing way to something quite beautiful and meaning filled.

Similar to prayer quilts, which are given as comfort for those who are ill or undergoing chemotherapy or other forms of care, a comfort quilt can be hand tied or quilted. When we quilt, whether by machine or by hand, we are symbolically bonding three things together. When we tie, the act of tying and the knots we form, can be also be bonded and we can still use both love and prayer to go through all of the layers of what we can see and what lies in between that we cannot. Tying the layers together takes on a whole new meaning.

Quilts, whether small (lap sized) or comfort (bed sized) have been used throughout time as a part of "passing on". They, themselves comfort during the passing, and they are then passed onto the family members as a comfort for them.

Comfort quilts needn't be complex or involve a lot of work from the quilter. The demand for them is so great, that it important to make them with love, but also be able to put them together quickly. So string quilting is a perfect way to create comfort quilts.

Quilts have always been made with their aesthetic value as a consideration, even when makers were creating objects for practical use. Any and all quilts are a form of artistic/creative expression. What perhaps distinguishes the art of the home-based quilt maker from that of the studio-based quilt artist are context and intent.

The works of quilt makers such as the quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama have shown us that what distinguishes a so-called 'art quilt' from an everyday 'bed quilt' may reside less in the minds of the makers, than in the eyes and the hearts of the beholder.

The purpose of an 'art quilt' has been to evoke emotion in the viewer. In that deepest sense, there can be no greater emotion that those faced by a family gathered around the sick bed of a loved one. And there can be no greater gift that one made by our hands, through the gifts of our own hearts, and passed on with love for those passing on, in all ways...from one lifetime to another.

shown above:
My string pieced quilt, 67" x 59", made with strings from my scrapbag.
I used patriotic heartstrings (in honor of Veteran's Day)
and meander quilting.

Free Patriotic Quilting Patterns
String Quilting
Free Quilt Patterns

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Quiltessential Gathering of Quilts

The end of each month is community quilting donation time. No matter how busy I am, I try to finish some quick comfort quilts and pack up the one's I've previously made and not yet donated, and head off for my local quilt guild's meeting.

This morning, I loaded up the car with all of my quilts, made a stop at a friend's house to grab some of her quilts to include in today's donations and to admire all of the others she had in progress, and then headed off to my group meeting. Turning in 16 quilts at once was such a good what if some of them were tiny little Angel Wraps and Preemie Blankets. I loved having such a fun pile to donate :)

Our Mid-Valley Quilt Guild has some where between 325 and 350 members join during the year and every month dozens and dozens of us turn in completed comfort quilts and pillowcases that go to a variety of local charitable donations.

Each month we have a speaker, today we had the celebrated Nancy Lee Chong, known for her design, creation and hand quilting of intricate Hawaiian applique quilts.

Nancy is an amazing and humorous speaker and her quilts are so detailed and use beautiful hand dyed fabric that she also offers for sale.

I was sitting about 1/4 of the way back in our meeting room but when you are among 75-100 women (and one very talented manquilter) you end up holding your small emergency camera over your head (and no doubt in front of other's faces) and trying to take at least partial shots of quilts. These are the best photos I could manage once I cropped out all of the heads of ladies seated in front of me....this collage puts a new spin on the term 'quilt tops' !!!!

Nancy Lee Chong's quilts under her label Pacific Rim Quilts and you can view much better versions of her quilts at her website! So, do go back and click on my link and check them all out. Nancy offers a variety of patterns for sale ...both traditional and her some of her own more modern creations....and if you'd seen her quilts in'd want to at least try a table runner, trust me. Her work is gorgeous!

Amid quilt guild, yard work, quilting, cats, chickens and gets busy and challenging. But being able to make and donate quilts for good causes and seeing the beauty of others quilts, not only lifts the spirits.... but add such color to life!

Nancy Lee Chong's website:Pacific Rim Quilts
'Quiltessential': Urban Speak: Quiltin' and Needl'n the Patchwork

If you haven't watched Stitched: The Film is available for FREE viewing ..but that ends today. You may have to go back to the beginning of the link here:

If you're too late, you can still order the DVD. It is SO good, I just loved it..the absolute 'quiltessential' ending of my gathering of the quilts around me day!!!!

And of course...
don't forget that I quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) With Heart and Hands at and always have a number of those quilts in progress :)

Join my friend-connect to receive my frequent updates on quilting, crafting,and updates for thousands and thousands of free patterns and tutorials and to see all of my latest fun!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Piecemakers Quilting Group Of Henderson, Nevada

Charlie Gibson of the ABC Evening News has awarded "The Piecemakers" Quilting Group in Henderson, Nevada as the ABC News "Person of the Week".

This small group of quilters at the Central Christian Church in Henderson, Nevada (just outside of Las Vegas) has made and given away over 800 quilts from their quilting ministry to patients battling cancer. The small quilting group was originally begun by one of the quilters, the late Joyce Koonz, who was, herself, battling cancer. In spite of her own challenges, Joyce still wanted to reach out and support other cancer patients going through chemo-therapy.

She gathered together a group of quilters and they quickly taught others to cut, sew or quilt. The small initial group grew to include anyone willing to help, whether they thought they could sew or not. Group members all work together, some cutting, some sewing, some writing on Bible verses by hand onto the quilts and all coming together and offering up a prayer as a quilt is completed.

As group member Dorothy Fletcher says "The verses that are on the quilts we picked are to bring comfort, to bring peace and to bring hope."

Filled with beautiful and uplifting Bible verses amidst the nine patches, the split rails, and lots and lots of appliqued hearts, the handwritten words only seem to further echo the obvious handprints I could feel written on each quilter's heart.

Originally, the quilts went to members of the church, but now they go out to anyone who needs them. The ABC news team showed one woman receiving the gift of her lap quilt and caught the deep emotion such a gift the tears streamed down her face. A quilt takes many, many weeks to make and the group is a small one, but they all work hard and quickly, with anyone helping in any way that they can.

As Dorothy Fletcher says"We just never know where these quilts are going to end up. It brings comfort to the person, sometimes to the survivors after their loved ones have passed on. And that's a double blessing."

It did my own heart such good just watching this news piece. I was so moved that I left my own on-line message at the news site. I was already the 170th person to do so...and it took me a while to sign up and sign in!

Having spent the last four years of my own life....sewing both at home and at a downtown Salem, Oregon church...endlessly making comfort quilts for others, it made me realize just how much it truly means to those who receive them. Almost as much as it means to those of us who are blessed in the making of them.
I have been amazed at the comments left both at the ABC website on this news story, and the e-mails that I have personally received. There are so many people who desperately want a quilt for a loved one battling cancer or who want to donate to this group in some way.
I can tell from the hundreds of comments that the story received that this little group must be absolutely overwhelmed by the requests. I have been happy to accept some of the e-mails that accidentally came to me because of this story and try to give suggestions on how to donate locally in their own cities or towns, or how to reach local quilting groups for a donation of a quilt.

Watching these quilt makers, this wonderful group of "Piecemakers" only reminded me of how this just might be the 'piece' we all seek.For the Henderson, Nevada group are truly "Peacemakers' in Quilting.
ABC link to Henderson, NV 'Piecemakers', see video of newsclip upper right:

Check out my own related links for our quilting group here in Salem, OR:
Salem (Quiltathon) Community Quilters
Patriotic Heartstrings Quilting Project

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Quilts, Health, and Healing

"Quilts and Health" is the name of a beautiful book that I recently discovered online. Written by Marsha MacDowell, Clare Lutz, and Beth Donaldson.

Imagine my surprise to discover that I was mentioned in the footnotes and bibliography!
Goodness sakes!  If it were you, wouldn't you be not only surprised but incredibly curious to know what you had said or had mentioned about you?

I tried finding more information and found references to the book, its authors and how it could be purchased. I debated and debated about buying a book just because it had my name mentioned in it.

But as someone who has worked so long and so hard with loved ones on both a variety of illnesses, including being a primary caregiver for mother's Inflammatory Breast Cancer in my home in Oregon through chemo, mastectomy, and radiation and spending many years combined, living in my childhood home in Alaska helping my mom with Alzheimer's. And  I've also helped others with many, many aspects of  lung cancer, bone cancer, and other very challenging diseases. But I've done so many other connecting things, all shared here on my blog.

I have learned so very much from those walks with others and their journey through treatments or end of life experiences and in turn, been blessed with so many discoveries about inner strength (both theirs and my own when care giving) and the incredible strength we call upon when we don't even know we have it in us.

 I knew that I not only wanted to buy the book, but needed to! Not as a 'vanity' purpose but because I love to read about others and how they cope and what they've learned as well. It fills and touches a very deep core in my heart to share in other's experiences.

I bought the book and genuinely loved it. It's not only a gorgeous "coffee table" book but a meaningful one that others are drawn to and want to pick up and read. When my book arrived, I poured over it feeling so many emotions, so many experiences in my life and s lovely connection of course with so many amazing quilts.

It turned out to be a very dear experience reading about the journey of these women, teachers, healers, and patients all walked their way down an amazing discovery of just how much quilts were connected, one experience after another, to almost every disease they read about, looked up on the Internet . And I can only assume how one of them apparently found me and this blog.

What I learned was that one of them very quickly discovered that not only was she a beginning writer/researcher for this book, but became a cancer patient fighting for her own life. That she personally  experiences being welcomed into her very first doctors appointment to be greeted by a quilt hung in the waiting room.  And later with a quilt in a bag of loving care items of her very own to keep as she kept warm and comforted during chemotherapy.

It is heart touching as it goes on to explores the personal meaning and comfort that a quilt that give to someone who is ill as well as the beauty that one can bring into someone's life. I love my quilts and I can't imagine not sleeping under one, or two, or three or four when it's really cold! They add comfort and warmth and yes, beauty to the lives of anyone who has one, is given one or creates one.

And where and how did I fit in you ask?

Well, I can imagine it might have been my journey through my loved ones illness though that was never mentioned, from this blog, or it could have been in response to seeing the 75 small format art quilts I donated to Ami Simm's incredible creation of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative which have written about here beginning in 2006 on.

But it ended up being because of a simple paragraph that I wrote about my spiritual connection  to creating and giving away my quilts. One that I write about over and over again.

Not my 75 art quilts to AAQI, my dozens and dozens of comfort quilts to hospitals, care homes, waiting rooms, bereaved families, babies and toddlers in Children's Hospitals or Neo-natal units. For while I am very proud to have managed to create and give these away, not one of them ever had a personal label or even my name on them as my art quilts did, but they meant the world to me in the creating and the giving and I hope they somehow, touched hearts in many states, countries (Guatemala and others) and even another continents (Africa or wherever Inter-faith mission quilts go).

So, there I was ....well, there my words were quoted from one of my blog pages in all their fast thinking and typing style I use, never thinking they be in a book someday or surely I would have tempted to clean up my reiteration or word usage, heck knowing me I would have taken so much time doing it, I would have changed my mind and never submitted them if I had been actually asked.

So, I am fine with the not knowing, not being asked as many who had quilts actually included (none of mine are there, just my words) for their lovely quilts, their work, and their words. I am brought to tears just to be in such a dear and special project.

Quilts and Health, page 48:
The preface by the authors reads:  ...When life throws you scraps, make quilts,...
Our lives are our quilts--bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love, and "Those who sleep under a quilt sleep under a blanket of love."

"These proverbs reflect the motivations of so many who turn to making and using quilts for personal well being and healing. and The work of these quiltmakers produce a tangible, tactile evidence of progress towards recovery or of acceptance s of living with altered conditions, of perseverance, of life-affirming activity, and of continuing to be productive in the face of adversity....Marsha MacDowell et al.

And then my tears begin every single time I read this:

"Quilt artist Michele Bilyeu powerfully expressed her feeling about quilting like this:
I use the healing gifts that I have been blessed with, and take those energies and infuse the fabric with heart, and thought, and caring, and prayers 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 someone else's life today, and everyday. And then think about making and giving away 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 the act of giving, and that 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."
 Notes 2.
Michele Bilyeu, "The Healing Art of Sewing and Quilting," Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*,

 What can I say?
I am humbled, and filled with an overwhelming heartfelt emotion for all my loved ones and I have been through, together. For all that each and everyone of you have gone through and experienced.

For all I have been blessed with and what good I might have been able to do in my lifetime.
I only wish I had the time, the health, and the physical ability to do so much more than what I have.

Michele Bilyeu
With Heart and Hands

Now, wihout wifi and typing on her cell phone...Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quilts, Quilts, and More Quilts

Quilting and service go hand and hand. Or perhaps, it's really heart in hand and then you quilt with it!

Patriotic quilts and patriotric quilt giving have always meant a lot to me.  So, it was just wonderful discovering this special exhibit at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

"Quilted in Honor" sponsored by Island Batiks, is a collection of 50 celebrity quilters that pays tribute to our military personnel and their families.  And the Sisters Quilt Show was one of only 18 national locations to host this wonderful traveling exhibit!

Featuring quilts from Alex Anderson, Rob Appell, Eleanor Burns, Carol Doak, Pat Sloan, Ricky Tims, Angela Walters, Scott Hansen and others.

"Quilted in Honor" benefits Operation Homefront's fundraising efforts for military personnel and their families.

The sun was bright and beautiful, but so were the quilts. You'll have to guess which designer made each quilt. I was just too busy admiring them to read the fine print. But the overall impression.....Amazing, America, the Beautiful! ...

Just lovely, and of course, American flags could be found elsewhere throughout the town. It is July, this is a huge celebration of quilts and quilters everywhere. A big salute to one and all.

And here, the equally fabulous Teachers Tent! Featuring quilts designed and created by the wonderful staff of talented teachers that offer lessons throughout each day of the entire week preceding the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Called "A Quilter's Affaire" you can check them out on the Stitchin' Post Website, owned and operator and founder of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show!

Here are some of the amazing teacher's quilts!

And then, once you walk through the big top tent and all of these fabulous quilts, you are all super googley eyed and just see quilt after quilt after beautiful, fun, amazing quilts..on every surface, in every courtyard, in alley ways, on city buildings and in parks of all sizes and shapes.

And then, suddenly there is music...'barbershop" "beauty shop??" quartets of the most fabulous voices..I saw two different groups of ladies and I think another one of men and they were all amazing!!!!!!

And more and more fabulous quilts...all things so bright and beautiful.....

 And I have so many more photos, so bear with me, here and just look at these!

Portland Modern Quilt Guild:

And siding up to them all of these fabulous quilts and the most amazing iron? metal works you have ever seen in your life...including...get this, a Cinderella carriage..all metalwork!

Jaw draw dropping  For sure. It's one thing to see sooo many beautiful quilts, but Sisters is also now known for amazing art of all kinds. Just beautiful!

Manland!!!! and More fun and More quilts!

 The quilt below is Bill Volenkening's, a fun and colorful quilt with the most beautiful machine quilting by the amazing Jolene Knight. You have to see the quilting to believe it. Jolene captured Bill's energy and intent perfectly!

Wonderful quilts. I went around the corner and saw this great cat quilt. Bill has a black cat named Lulu who is so cute and does the cutest things. This could easily be his cat!

 Mary Lou Weidman, a dear woman and someone I am proud to call FRIEND. Mary and her zany Cow Parade.

If I wasn't smiling and happy before, I was grinning ear to ear by this exhibit!  Hilarious cute!

So much sunshine, inside and out. What a day. If you didn't want to go to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show absolutely have to want to by now!  

And I may look done in, but I'm still  not done. More quilts to see and see, and see. Hard to believe you can see this many, take their photos, walk a kazillion blocks and still have a smile on your face and a song in your heart!

 Pure bliss. Pure joy!

Next post: National Park Quilts and Wendy's Wish donation quilts for the Make a Wish Foundation.

The Fabulous "Wish Upon a Card" Project

Quilts, Quilts and More Quilts
Dreaming in Color... 
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2014
*Fabulous photos of the entire quilt show!  Daryl@Patchouli Moon's photo album:

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2013: The Teacher's Tent
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: ab-strakt-ed, improvisational, or modern?

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: So Many Quilts to Want to Make!
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: Two Rivers
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: Small Wonders Abound

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: Wonders of All Kind
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: Rosalie Dace
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: Teacher's Tent
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: Peter and Wendy Quilts

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!