Saturday, January 11, 2014


Hi, all!

Welcome to the first post on this new blog!!  Many of you may know that our quilt ministry has been operating for over four years now, but the time has come for it to have its own blog instead of sharing space on my personal blog.  So here it is!  This will be the place where we share about the quilts that we give away each week, and other things that are going on with the ministry.

And for those of you who are newcomers, I thought I'd share about how our ministry started.  You may have noticed the subtext on the blog header - "a blog about an accidental ministry".  This post (a reprint from my personal blog) will tell you a little bit more about why I call it an "accidental ministry"...


Several of you have asked about how our quilt ministry began, and after checking with the parties involved to be sure they didn't mind me posting about it on my blog, I'm ready to tell.  It's a good story but a little long, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in...

When I was leading a Beth Moore study group at church in the spring of 2009, a couple of the young women in the group were talking before class about how much they wished they had learned to sew, so that they could sew for their daughters.  Overhearing their conversation, I asked if they would come to a Saturday sewing group if we set one up through church, and they said they would.  So in August, we started a once-a-month sewing group to learn basic sewing.  Another group started on Wednesday nights, also teaching basics.  Between the two classes, we had about 20 people learning how to sew, led by about four of us who were experienced, mostly in making clothing.  We taught them how to make purses, simple children's dresses, and other easy projects.

Last November, Kelley, the wife of our youth minister, was told she had an abnormal PAP smear, and they wanted to check it again.  On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Kelley was told that she had cervical cancer and needed to have a total hysterectomy.  The results from her tests came back on Wednesday, confirming a rare and aggressive form of cancer, and her surgery was scheduled for the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend.  One of the other pastors' wives and I spoke on Wednesday, wanting to do something for Kelley, but not knowing exactly what to do. Being involved with the youth, Kelley didn't spend a lot of time with the other women at church, so we didn't know her very well.  We both agreed that we ought to do something, and that we would think about it and talk later.  

Cut to Thanksgiving morning, 5 a.m.  The house is quiet - dogs and husband still asleep.  I've put my turkey in the oven and I settle down at my sewing table to cut out the pieces for a quilt I want to make for my granddaughter for Christmas.  (This would be the first quilt I'd made in about 25 years, and only about my fifth ever!)

Now it gets a little strange, and is certainly indicative of the sense of humor God endowed me with....  As I'm sitting there working, I hear, "Make Kelley a quilt."  (I say "hear" but no, I'm not hearing voices, it's just the easiest way to describe it!  I thought it was just a wild idea that popped in my head...)  And I snorted, thinking yeah, right, there's no time to make Kelley a quilt!  A few minutes later, I hear again, "Make Kelley a quilt."  OK, this is getting weird now - obviously this is a little more than just a wild idea that I'm coming up with - but I think again that there's no way I can get one done before she goes in the hospital in five days. 

You would think that would be the end of it, wouldn't you? But no! The next thing I hear is "Get your friends to help you!"  (And now you see why I told you about starting our sewing classes.  If we hadn't started those classes, there wouldn't have been anyone to call on!)  OK, that's maybe possible - but it's still a wild idea.  And it's Thanksgiving weekend - who's going to give up any of their holiday time on the biggest shopping weekend of the year to come and sew?

And you know what I heard then?  "If you feed them, they will come!"  (I told you God gave me a weird sense of humor!)
From the movie "Field of Dreams"
About that time, my husband came in looking for coffee, and I asked him what he'd think if I took over the house on Saturday, filling it with women and making a quilt, something we'd never done before.  He said, "I think that's a great idea!"  Proof positive that this was not just some wild idea I came up with - this was God's idea!  (Bill really likes his nice quiet Saturdays!) So my next step was to get on Facebook and e-mail, and check to see who would be interested in helping in a project for Kelley - - - and within a couple of hours, I had over a dozen people who were willing to help, without even knowing what we were going to do!  We arranged to meet at my house on Saturday morning to make a quilt.

Friday morning rolls around, and I brave the Black Friday crowds to go to the store to buy fabric for the quilt.  Because of the time constraint I decide to use the same pattern I was looking at for my granddaughter's quilt, a mystery quilt by M'Liss Hawley that has nine different blocks, all made from fat quarters.  I figured this would be easy for a group of women to work on - each could work on one specific block design.  But I had no idea what colors Kelley liked, and I couldn't get any guidance anywhere.  So I went in blind, and chose an earth tone pack containing six fat quarters, to which I added more fat quarters, background fabric, and borders.  I also picked up solid Kona cream for the backing, which I had a special plan for.  Went home and cut out all the pieces we would need for the quilt.  Got to work making food for the next morning - we are Baptist, and literally, if you feed us, we will show up for almost anything!

Saturday morning dawns, and fifteen women show up at my house to help out!  Two ladies didn't sew at all, but one is an artist and the other is an editor with beautiful handwriting.  They got to work on the back of the quilt, writing Bible verses and song lyrics and drawing beautiful flower bouquets, all designed to encourage Kelley when she read them, and to feel like she was wrapping herself in God's promises and love every time she used the quilt.

The rest of us started putting together the quilt top.  Fortune favors the brave - and the uninformed!  I had no idea then how difficult it should be to assemble a quilt sewed by so many different people, none of whom were experienced quilters!  But this was an excellent pattern to use, because it was very forgiving.

The top was finished by mid-afternoon, and the quilt was completed and given to the girl who would be delivering it on Sunday morning.  I named this quilt “Field of Dreams” to reflect the references from the Kevin Costner movie - it just seemed appropriate!

I’m pleased to say that Kelley had an excellent result from her surgery, which ended up not being as radical as they originally thought it would need to be, and they caught her cancer so early that there was no need for chemo or radiation!  

About a month after her surgery, Kelley asked me how I knew that her design notebook was covered with the exact colors in the quilt we made - all her favorites!  I told her it must have been a God thing - because I certainly didn't know what colors she liked when I picked them out!
Kelley is involved in the ministry now - she's not a sewer, but she makes beautiful stamped cards and makes all the note cards that we send with our quilts as her contribution to the ministry.

After Christmas 2009, the ladies started asking me when we would be making another quilt. Boy, was I surprised!  But I had begun making quilts for Quilts For Kids, so I ordered some kits for us to work on during our January meeting, and cut some more out of my fabric stash. We made nine quilts that day!

One of those quilts went to a little girl we found out about through the church prayer list.  

A couple of weeks later, one of the pastors asked for a quilt for a woman in our church with brain cancer, so we made a quilt for her.

From those humble beginnings, our ministry has expanded. We still have quilting bees occasionally, but the need is usually greater than we can meet just with quilting bees, so many of our quilts are made by individuals on their own.  We now have about forty women who have made at least one quilt for the ministry from start to finish, and more are learning every day!  In addition to making quilts for people battling health issues, we are now making quilts for newborns in our church and families that we are ministering to.  As of today, we have made and distributed 675 quilts since four years ago.  God took willing hands and hearts and grew something wonderful - an "accidental" ministry!

And our ministry would have been so much more difficult without the help of so many wonderful quilt bloggers - many of you have stepped forward and donated fabric, finished quilts, and UFOs by the boxful!

We started our ministry working with fabric from our own fabric stashes and what we could afford to buy.  The many many yards of fabric and the UFOs that have been donated have made it possible for our ministry to grow and expand beyond anything I could have every dreamed of just four years ago.  To each of you who have donated to our ministry, please know you are an important and much-appreciated partner in the ministry.

We started out sewing in my house and met there for about two and a half years.  But as we grew, more space was needed, and our church decided to create a dedicated quilting room.  (You can see part of it in the picture at the top of this post!)  It has been fabulous blessing to have a space where we can store our fabric and supplies and leave our projects set up in between meetings.  This year we have been averaging twenty-five to twenty-eight sewers each time we meet, and that room that looked so large when we first moved into it is looking much smaller now!  But that's a wonderful problem to have!

We call our ministry "Piece*Love*Quilt" - three little verbs that form our mission statement - we piece, we love, we quilt.  And while doing so we have expanded our little world to include so many people.  Women who said, "I can't quilt!" are now saying, "Do you need me to make another quilt?"  I have seen God at work in ways I would never have imagined before we started this ministry.  I can't wait to see what happens in the years to come as we continue to grow!
Look at those wonderful ladies!
It's been a long post, as promised, and I appreciate everyone who stuck with me all the way to the end!  I am so thankful for each and every one of you!!




  1. Well I don't know what happened to my first comment, so if you get two....sorry.
    I never get tired of hearing the story about the beginning of the Quilt Ministry, brings tears to my eyes every time. I miss seeing and sewing with the Sewing Sisters, maybe one Saturday I'll pop in to visit. Wonderful ladies, wonderful ministry. May God bless each and every one of you for your blessed work.

  2. I've been following Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a while, and have loved reading about your quilt ministry. I've never heard how it got started though. What an amazing story. Can't wait to read more about the quilt ministry.

  3. I think this is an awesome step for all of you and so deserving. I will always be in the wings and look forward to seeing what the group becomes along futures path.

  4. My husband and I are considering making a change to a new church home. One of the churches that I am really leaning toward is offering sewing classes this quarter. Perhaps if God leads us there, perhaps there will be an opportunity to start a quilt ministry there. I hand quilt exclusively, but I do sew and could certainly piece tops/blocks. ;-)

  5. Loved reading the story. I wish I could come sew with you gals; it's such a worthwhile cause. Could you send me the address to send UFOs to? I have two finished tops that I'd really like to see get finished and used, but I don't have the time to finish or space to store them for much longer.

  6. This also brings tears to my eyes and I have read it before. Praying for an opportunity to be part of something like this. Thank you for dedicating the time to blog this.

  7. Oh Sarah this was so wonderful to read. I do believe that there are reasons for things happening to us and obviously this is what you and your friends were meant to do. I can't wait to read more about your fantastic work.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your story and starting this blog. I would love to be a part of a ministry like this.