Tuesday, May 6, 2014

One Sale = Another Lesson in How Small Things Make a Difference

Last week I had the opportunity to get to know a fabric customer just a wee bit better because of a small thing.

A new eBay fabric lover purchased several bundles of flannels from me.  It's very easy to just let it go and say "Thank you", but I was curious this time.  Thrilled to have sold some lovely fabrics, but I wondered what she might be making.  Sometimes you just let it go.  Other times, it's like smiling at someone in the checkout line: you ask a simple question and end it with "have a great day."  It's kind of what I do.

This one question sparked a back and forth conversation and a glimpse into another quilter's life that I asked if I could share with you.  Perhaps this one little post may impact you in some way: whether it's to quilt special projects like she is, donate to someone else for that reason or minimally, ask another person why they do what they do.  You might be surprised at the answer.

I was.

Ann is a quilter from Michigan.  She makes some very lovely quilts, mostly out of flannel for their warmth and comfort, for veterans.  I asked her if I could share her story here on the blog because you just never know what impact you might have.  She seemed a bit shy to do so, but decided it would be okay. 

Here's our interview and some images for you.

How did you get started in the project?
My husband is a Vietnam Vet and had numerous visits to the VA hospitals in Michigan being treated for Prostate Cancer . While he was undergoing his cancer treatments the local ladies participated in giving to the VA numerous items such as fleece blankets and some knitted. My husband came home with each of these and it made him feel very comforted that someone would do this for the vets in the hospital. 

There are so many vets from past wars that I think in general most of us have forgotten about them. I realize that the vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan (my son being one who served three tours) have been greeted and loved and most quilters have gone all out to make quilts for them, but I think that the vets from wars past kind of get looked over.
After my husbands experience I thought I can do that too!  I find comfort in doing this for them because they have sacrificed so much for our country and for us. I do this because it is the one thing that I can do for them to make them see that we do care.

How long have you been doing this?
I guess I have been doing this for about three years.  Most quilts go to the veterans who are admitted to the hospitals.  

Is there a special pattern you like to use?  How do you create them?
I love all the quilts I do and each one is special when completed.  I don't always use patterns and have the gift of just putting the pieces together and they emerge as they are.  I also use the unused blocks that I have managed to get from people as well as eBay when they are available when people are cleaning out their closets.
I put them together the best way and then free motion them and bind them all.  The size of the quilts are generally around 50x65 or so depending on the pattern I have come up with.

What fabrics do you like to use and why?
I use only 100% cotton mostly from my stash and also from what others have given me by cleaning out their own stash. I love flannel best of all because of it's warmth.  I use cotton batting. I am OK right now for fabrics as I continue to gather scraps and others have given me some of their fabric or unused blocks.

The eagle fabric is eye catching: what line is it from? 
The eagle panel is spectacular and I have made about 5 quilts with this panel. Marcus Brothers had this available and they have printed a new one but it's not as large but I build the blocks around the eagle and have some yet to do.  I don't do all red/white/blue quilts all the time I try to mix it up. Mostly people who know me and my quilt making have encouraged me to sell my quilts but I get more satisfaction in giving.  When my husband was so ill and we needed to have wood for our home we had a lot of people chip in and help, the only gift I could give them at the time was a quilt.

Exactly where do you take them?
The quilts are delivered by my husband when he has appointments at the VA either in Ann Arbor, Saginaw or Detroit Michigan.  All VA's I believe have a place where you can donate to the vets.  Mine usually go to Saginaw because that's where my husband has his appointments most of the time. I try to have at least (4) for him to take and had finished (8) for his last trip.  I have now completed (8) tops that need to be sandwiched and quilted for him to take when he goes in July. 

Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I think it's important that people realize that not only the troops coming home but the troops from past wars need to be remembered, to let them know that they are not forgotten. I am truly blessed to be able to have the skills to do this for our vets.  I place a label on each quilt which states:  Made Especially for You by A Vets Wife Ann B. and Thank You For Your Service.

If you would like to contact Ann, send me a message (you'll find my email on my About Me page)  with your email address and I will forward it to her.

I would like to leave with some thoughts: What can you do for someone else?  What connections do you have in your life that would benefit from your talent, your energy, your support? Perhaps, like Ann, our service men and women, either past or present is a possibility, such at the Quilts of Valor Program.    As a parent who's child received a quilt when she spent time at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, I think of the quilt that she received.  I have cousins and friends who share their gift with the Linus Project.  Like me, perhaps you want to whip up pillowcases for the Million Pillowcase Challenge.  Maybe you have the ability to help financially.  I LOVE checking Kickstarter and have supported several projects that came across my view.  How about buying into a CSA?  You can find them scattered across our country.

The big idea?  Be a part of something outside yourself.  You will be amazed at how quickly your own problems seem smaller when you reach out and help others in ANY way that works for you.  We are each different.  We have talents and abilities if we only give things a try.

Hugs from Carrie

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