Quilting luncheon recruits new hands and hearts

  • Emily Esworthy
  • Feb 26, 2020

The quilters at St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, finished 14 quilts last Saturday — the most they’ve done in a single morning since anyone can remember.

Their secret wasn’t a fancy new sewing machine or a commitment to less socializing. They simply had several more volunteers than usual.

“Many hands make light work,” explains St. Luke quilter Penelope Sinclair.

How did they get those extra hands involved? Sinclair says it’s largely thanks to a successful educational event that boosted potential volunteers’ skills, confidence and excitement to join the church’s quilting ministry.

Food, fellowship and hands-on learning

One Sunday after morning services, Sinclair and the St. Luke quilters invited church members to a special luncheon to learn about Lutheran World Relief Quilts & Kits of Care.

After enjoying lunch and a presentation by LWR staff in the quilt room, the 55 attendees went from station to station learning about the process of making a quilt. At the first stop, a quilter talked about cutting and piecing strips and squares of donated fabric to make colorful quilt tops. At the second, another quilter demonstrated how to cut the batting and choose the right color backing and thread to make the quilt “pop.”

“We’re giving these quilts to people in need. Some will live and die in them. We should make them as beautiful as we can,” explains Sinclair, who has been sewing since she was 10.  

At the next stations, they learned to tie the quilt, then pin and sew the edges. Sinclair says seeing and praying over the finished product definitely brought the ministry home for the attendees.

The quilters also set up a table featuring LWR Baby Care Kits, School Kits, Personal Care Kits and Fabric Kits.

In addition to realizing how these ministries impact people in some of their greatest times of need, Sinclair says the event helped people to realize that quilting and kit-making is a way to be active in a close-knit community. “It gets people up and out of their houses,” she says. “It’s a chance to get together and chitchat.”

Tips for planning your quilting event

Sinclair, who thought of this event as both a recruitment and educational opportunity, says hosting is easy — especially if you tie it in with other quilting activities you’re already doing. Her tips: 

  • Host it the Sunday of a quilt blessing, when quilts are draped over the pews and there is “a cacophony of colors and quilts that everybody can come see.”
  • Host it the day after a quilting session, so that all the quilting supplies are already spread out and ready to go.
  • Include lunch. While Sinclair’s build-your-own taco salads were a hit, she suggests serving lighter fare like tea and scones as an alternative for easier prep and cleanup.
  • Include the pastor. “If the pastor attends, that shows support for the quilting ministry and for the mission of Lutheran World Relief,” she says.
  • Invite younger generations. “Anyone can tie a square knot,” she says. This event can be great for Scout troops and students in need of service hours, and it’s a perfect opportunity to get even young kids involved and teach them about where the quilts go and why this ministry matters.

National Quilting Day is right around the corner

National Quilting Day falls on Saturday, March 21, this year. If you’re hosting a special event, we’d love to hear about it! Learn more here!

Congregation Resources

Host Your Own - National Quilting Day 2020

Host your own National Quilting Day event to celebrate 75 years of comforting the world with quilts! Here are some tips for organizing a quilting celebration in your community.

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Emily Esworthy, Feb 26, 2020 email