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Quilts for Refugees

February 10, 2016


Canada’s new forward-thinking government has committed to helping tens of thousands of Syrian refugees find a new home in this beautiful country. I’m so grateful to be living in a place that is kind and generous. After reading and listening to so many heart-wrenching stories in the news about the risks and journeys these refugees have taken with small children in tow, I wanted to find a way to get involved, and somehow help make those coming to Canada feel welcomed and supported. I was guessing that others in Toronto might be feeling the same way. And you know how it is with quilty friends: makers gotta make! So I posted an idea on Instagram to host a little quiltathon to churn some quilts out to donate, and got a great response.

Of course a quilty logo was in order. Here’s what I came up with:


Soon a plan was in place! Daryl of Fabric Spark kindly offered to help me coordinate the event, and organized donations of fabric from many of her suppliers.



We had a church hall and twenty-something quilters lined up. Everyone arrived with lots of enthusiasm, and we soon got stitching.



There was lots of cutting, pinning, stitching, collaboration, deliberation, contemplation, and of course, all around good banter. Donuts were donated, dunked and indulged in! (Thank you, Jay!)



This was one of my fave moments of the day when there was celebration as Deb finished her “Multi-Culti” quilt top. Such an awesome name and concept for this quilt. Love it!



Some generous long armer quilters who were keen to participate, but not able to attend the event, kindly offered to quilt some quilts for us. (Thank you Stacy Merton, Tania Denyer, and Karen Brown.) Also thanks to Steff Rose for your awesome quilting help.

I love how they quilted messages in these quilts.



A quilt arrived in the mail from an Oregon quilter who just wanted to be a part of the collaborative. She mailed wrapped it in an Oregon map!


Adrienne of Toronto MQG donated the fab Pick Up Sticks quilt that she had made out of the Quilt blocks she won in the block lotto. (Quilted by Stacey Merton and bound by Lauren of TMQG it truly was a community quilt!)



By the end of the day we were knackered, but we had a good start on a pile of quilts with more in the works. (We’re expecting over thirty!)



I designed some quilt labels for the quilts that recipients could know who made theirs, and also be able to track the story behind the quilt making if they were interested.



Our deadline for delivery of finished quilts is the end of February, and then they will be donated. More on the final quilts, and hopefully some recipient stories to follow. Watch this space! In the meantime, here’s a pic of a few that we have so far with some of the lovely ladies that made them.



A few little notes of thanks:

To Maggie Helwig, at St.Stephen-in-the-Fields, thanks for supporting the project and allowing us to use the church. Much appreciated!

To Daryl for all your help in making this happen. It’s so much more fun when you have a partner in crime. And to your suppliers for their fantastic fabric donations! Thank you!

To everyone who participated: Thanks for your time and energy! Obvious to say this, but these projects just don’t happen if no one jumps on board. (Extra hugs for the girls who drove all the way from Orangeville, and to Krista who managed to squeeze in a visit and a bit of binding while in town on a visit from Vancouver. Yay!)


And to my amazing husband and kids who, as usual, supported yet another one of my crazy ideas. They schlepped tables & equipment, packed the cars, drove the quilters, baked snacks, stitched quilts, and put up with a piles fabric and quilting on the dining room table. Love you guys!

And for anyone touched by projects like this, who might wish they could have been a part of it, here’s what I suggest: Make a quilt to donate! Find a local organization working with refugees to give it to, or mail it to me to donate on your behalf. Better yet, host your own sew-in to make quilts like we did. It’s such fun and a really great cause. So go for it!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2016 12:36 pm

    You guys are AMAZE-BALLS! So inspiring! I know you don’t need me to be but I feel so proud of you guys!

  2. February 24, 2016 7:15 am

    Thanks for this lovely story! I’ve been inspired to pull together an Ottawa version this month. We’re in the beginning stages of getting something going, but very much looking forward to the project! Logistics question: What did you do for batting?

    • February 24, 2016 3:32 pm

      Hi Leslie
      So happy to have inspired you. It’s a very rewarding project to do. We had two rolls of batting donated by fabric shops (Fabric Spark and Sew Sisters here in Toronto). But some people provided their own. We had quite a lot of fabric swatches donated, but again, some people provided their own fabric. Everyone was happy to contribute what they had. It tends to go that way with these kinds of events. Lots of happy lovely people making happy, lovely quilts. Looks like we’ll end up with around 40+ quilts, which is awesome! You are welcome to use my Quilts for Refugees logo to promote your sew-in if you’d like. I can do you up an IG version with your date etc. Just DM me. And you probably saw the hashtag we used was #quiltsforrefugees. Look forward to seeing what you Ottawa girls come up with!

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