When I first heard of do. Good Stitches, Flickr was the main way sewists/quilters were connecting and the Flickr group was prolific. Since that time, the bee has continued making and giving away quilts along with having some of their quilts displayed at Quilt Con this past year. I wanted to connect with Rachel at Stitched in Color to learn more about the start of do. Good Stitches and their work.
1. Tell me about how do. Good Stitches came into fruition and how does it work.
As a new quilter, I heard so much about online quilting bees. It sounded like such fun to sew with friends and get to experiment with a wide variety of quilt blocks. Still I held back because I didn’t know what I’d do with the quilt that would result from joining a bee. We didn’t really need another quilt for our house. Hemmed in by practicality, I didn’t join a quilting bee, but I thought about it a lot. I also pondered the long tradition of quilt-making for charity. Women used to gather in homes and churches to make patchwork and stitch on large quilting frames as a team. Oftentimes these quilting bees were religious groups that donated their work to the needy. One afternoon I searched online for a charity quilting bee and was disappointed that none seemed to exist. It wasn’t long before I decided to start one myself. We’d have the fun of the quilting bee, but a purpose beyond ourselves, just like the bees of old.
do. Good Stitches is an online charity quilting bee where members use social media such as Flickr and Instagram for planning and sharing progress. Our bee is designed to minimize shipping and fabric costs by working from our own fabric stashes. Members are organized into groups of 10, called circles. Each circle makes one quilt per month to be donated to various wonderful charities.
2. How many circles/participants are there now? Do you know how many quilts have been donated?
Right now we have 19 circles made up of 190 active participants total. I have no idea how many quilts have been donated total! Most circles make ten quilts per year, as we often take June and December as break months. Each circle is lead by a host who provides encouragement and administrative support for her team. I’ve been hosting Love circle since 2010. Our circle has completed and donated 58 quilts so far and has 10 more in various states of almost-completion.
3. Why is this project important to you?
This beauty of this world is marred by loss and inequality. It is a tremendous blessing to have access to hobby that produces an end product that can speak love and comfort to another. It began for me as making quilts for my family and friends. When I discovered that there are charities who will help us extend our gifts to people we don’t know, I was thrilled. Getting to make these quilts in collaboration with others, which extends my creativity and helps sustain the momentum of the work… I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to be part of do. Good Stitches.
4. How did it feel to see the quilts showcased at Quilt Con?
Pleasantly bemused. Seeing other do. Good Stitches quilts in the cloth feels surprising. Sometimes the nature of our digital world blurs the reality of what is happening behind the screens. These quilts are real! All the hands that have labored to make them belong each to a beautiful soul who chose to extend love. I am also glad to see our quilts at Quilt Con for the exposure it gives our bee. There is always more room, more good to be done.
(* Here is a great post about some of the quilts from Quilt Con.*)
5. Have you been surprised by the response to the project?
Yes, I was very, very surprised initially how quickly the bee grew. There was a time when we were adding 5-6 new circles a year. After a few years of rapid growth, things slowed down. I believe this is so in general with online quilting bees. Currently we have circles based in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. I hope we are able to weather the bumps of changing technology trends and continue to make charity quilts for years to come.
6. How can others become involved?
Please visit this page to learn more about how do. Good Stitches works and to register to join. We always need new quilters to take turns leading a quilt about two times per year. There’s no need for fancy free motion quilting skills or a longarm machine. In fact, we love straight line quilting!
While quilts of all styles are wonderful acts of charity, this bee brings together social media users who enjoy sewing with modern fabrics. You must be willing to use Flickr for bee business. Some circles also use Instagram for staying connected. Since we each sew from our own fabric stash, it’s helpful if we have somewhat similar taste in fabrics so that the quilts are cohesive.
I hope you’ll get involved!
Rachel, thank you for all of your hard work. You’ve provided an inspiring and caring place for quilters.