Allison Evans, an art historian home with her darling toddler, joins us each month with our Sew Good series. We love to learn about people who use their sewing skills and creativity to help others! Her first profile featured Rachael Dorr and Quilting a Memory, and then she gave us tips for how sewing guilds can become more involved in charity sewing, with a focus on the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. This time around Allison’s focus is on how individuals can make a difference, even if you’re not part of a guild or larger organization.

What about you? Are you involved in sewing projects to support people or animals in need? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

You can find more from Allison on Instagram (@phdstitchery), and she would love to hear from you if you have ideas for future Sew Good articles: phdstitchery @ Thanks!

Last month we looked at some options for guilds to become active in charity sewing, but fear not!– If guilds aren’t your thing there are lots of ways individuals can get involved too, and even some more modern options. I’ve been asked more than once by my husband if sewing by yourself isn’t sometimes really lonely. (Sometimes after three days of a toddler climbing on you, sewing by yourself with NO ONE sounds kind of divine!) While there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in charity sewing that don’t require you to be part of a guild, sometimes people find that they still want to be part of a “group,” even if they’re working on a project individually. Programs like do. Good Stitches {A Charity Bee} are just that– a way for individuals sewing at home to participate in a larger charity project while connecting with fellow quilters from all over the world.

Everlasting Love quilt in progress, blocks from the Faith Circle quilted by Anita Peluso of Bloomin’ Workshop.

For this particular bee, the brainchild of Rachel Hauser, participants are divided into circles that each have their own target recipients for the year; each circle aims to complete about ten quilts a year. Currently there are roughly thirty circles, with about ten members in each one. Within each circle there are three types of participants: an administrator, who is tasked with keeping all of the circle’s members on target; a quilter, whose role is to design or choose blocks, provide instructions, and then receive blocks from the other members and turn them into a completed quilt; and stitchers, who sew the chosen blocks each month and then mail them to the quilter.

This type of bee has a different approach to charity sewing than some of the more traditional volunteer groups. Melissa Richie, a longtime member of the Faith circle, explains, there is more to it than just sewing something and donating it: “I was really drawn to Rachel’s core value that we love sewing, so why not do something GOOD while we do what we love? I enjoy sewing, but didn’t want to sell my quilts, and I also loved the collaborative aspect of it. I joined hoping to add an element of selflessness to my social sewing… [There is the feeling] of being part of a huge movement of quilters who are intentionally doing something important every month, touching lives in a tangible way… I’d made a few things here and there to donate before, but I was a mere drop in the ocean. Now I’m part of a tsunami of good! We can make a much bigger impact as a group than we can as individuals. We [as the Faith circle] have collectively given over forty quilts to girls and young women rescued from human trafficking. As one person, I might have made one quilt a year, not forty in three years!”

Each circle chooses how to allocate their quilts for the year, whether it is to the same organization or to different groups. The Faith circle has given quilts to various groups in the past few years but has primarily focused on Restore Innocence, an organization that works with girls and young women rescued from human trafficking in the U.S. Although the nature of the organization, and protecting the safety and identities of the women, means that the quilters rarely know who exactly their quilts are going to, the group does know that the quilts are given to girls in the organization’s restoration program. A girl might receive a quilt on her 18th birthday, upon the celebration of one year of sobriety, or maybe for deciding to enter a rehab or treatment program. As Richie says, not knowing who is receiving their quilts might be discouraging to some, but for the Faith circle, “We also know that this quilt is one of the very few things the girl owns, and is most likely one of the only tangible things she has ever owned that is an expression of pure love, without any expectations.”

Joining a charity bee also has benefits other than just a sense of camaraderie. When you yourself aren’t always choosing the block pattern and colors you’re often forced to work outside of your comfort zone, and to try new skills (paper piecing, anyone?). And as we all know, when other people are waiting for your blocks in the mail, there’s usually a higher likelihood that you’ll get stuff done. Mailing deadlines mean your project can’t sit for months at time, and also mean that other people are depending on you to pull your weight. This brings us to some housekeeping: who isn’t the best candidate for this type of charity sewing group? This might not be the project for you if you struggle with deadlines, or have a hard time following through with sewing that isn’t in your personal style or preferred colors. If you feel strongly about completing a quilt on your own from conception to binding this might not be the best charity sewing approach for you. Also, if reading and following directions and rules isn’t your thing, this type of group project can be tough. For example, if your ¼” seam is more of 1/5” or 1/3”, it might not catch up with you if you’re making an entire quilt on your own (though the measuring crazy lady in me wants to say it will!), but if you’re sending your blocks off to be combined with others, it can throw a whole quilt off, which is tough for the other members to accommodate. The do.Good Stitches circles truly are a collaborative effort, so one continually weak link can make it difficult for a circle to complete their quilts on time or at all.

If you participate in a bee like this you should put your best foot forward! Part of do. Good Stitches is about loving what you’re doing. Rip out your seam until it looks right. Push yourself to create quilts that you’d love to have on your own bed. A donated quilt is a wonderful thing, but a donated quilt that is filled with time, thoughtfulness, careful triangle points and beautiful fabric will probably put even more of a spring in your step as you walk to the post office to mail it…

All images courtesy of Anita Peluso of Bloomin’ Workshop: Everlasting Love quilt in progress, with blocks from the Faith Circle.

Our Sew Good series is sponsored by Riley Blake Designs, a manufacturer of high quality cotton, organic cotton, flannel, knits, laminate cotton, minky and sparkle cotton fabrics. Their fabrics are primary used in the quilting, clothing and home decor industries. They have teamed up with talented artists to bring you beautiful and unique designs, that will inspire you and your love of fabric.

Riley Blake Designs seeks to inspire and connect creative minds with innovative and high-quality products.

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