TRAVELING VETERANS QUILT FOR CENTRAL OREGON VETERANS RANCH
Sometimes it's overwhelming, the many things that need attention and fixing and assistance. What can I do? How can I use my talents to help? These are questions many of us ask. This is the story of our Travelling Veterans Quilt; how the seeds were planted throughout the years that grew into ideas; and how we pulled together, using our talents, to help in our own little way.
Many years ago, when my friends were still in the baby growing stage, my friend Pam would organize the making of a baby quilt for a pregnant friend. She would select the fabrics, cut them out, and give each of us a square to embellish as we saw fit. Then we would all gather for a baby shower, where we would spend the day sewing the quilt together. What a beautiful memento for that special mom and her precious new child. Seed planted.
Five or six years ago I became enchanted with Alabama Chanin: their style; the meditative quality of slow stitching by hand; the sustainable repurposing of t-shirts, taking something old and breathing new life into it; and the myriad of beautiful examples of finished clothing and home accessories, including their flag quilt. Seeds planted.
I remember reading an article about the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch and doing some research about it. Something really resonated with me there. I felt it was a brilliant idea, and a wonderful opportunity for our veterans to spend time in nature, learn a new skill, and help each other while helping themselves. Coincidentally, I was speaking with my friend Annette about the Ranch. Annette knew the founder, Alison Perry, and confirmed that it was indeed a worthy cause. Seed planted.
Last Fall there was a call to artists. They were searching for a workshop that embodied how art affects the community. Political upheaval was weighing heavy on our minds, and I kept thinking we all need to pull together, because no matter our differences, we are all humans that live here in our one great nation, the United States of America. The symbol of the flag came to mind and what it embodied; then a flag quilt, each piece a little different from the next, each one made by different hands, each set of hands with their own life experiences, background, religion, history, views. Yet each of these unique pieces, when stitched together, would create a symbol of unity, freedom, resilience, community. Seed planted.
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Following the guidelines and measurements for the flag as closely as I could, and getting inspiration from the beautiful Alabama Chanin flag quilt, I made my own pattern and a class plan on how to create a community hand sewn flag quilt, then proposed my workshop. The workshop was not chosen, but I couldn't get the vision out of my head. The seeds planted, nourished by need and desire to help, had flourished into an idea. So I asked my Sit N Stitch group if they would be interested in gathering together their old red, white and blue t-shirts; cutting strips; stenciling patterns; stitching swatches; and assembling an American flag quilt to then donate to the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch to help with a fundraiser. There was a resounding "YES!" And we were off.
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