I was recently introduced to a really fantastic program. One that gathers and delivers vivid and beautiful handmade quilts to children in hospitals all over the country. I never realized this but children in hospitals often times are not allowed to bring personal items of comfort from home to stay with them. For this reason, the “Downy Touch of Comfort” campaign was born. They have partnered up with “Quilts for Kids” and have organized a way for children’s quilts (within certain specifications) to be gathered and donated to children who have been admitted to hospitals all over the U.S.
And if you think about it, that little quilt must bring a whole lot of cheer to a little one who carries serious illness or trauma in their young bodies. Especially if they have been there a long time and only have boring walls and plain white bed sheets to look at. Aww, I was sold. I can sew. I could whip up a quilt or two (or maybe more?). I knew this program was right up my alley.
And then I thought, hmmm, maybe some of you might be interested in this program too. And may want to use that quilting talent (or take a bit of time to learn how) and create a little something for a child right along with me. Anyone in? (And if you’re not from the U.S., you are more then welcome to donate but perhaps there is a similar program you could donate to in your own country. It’s worth looking into, right?)
You don’t even have to purchase the fabric………or even cut it! You can request a quilt kit here, which is just what I received in the mail recently.
However, if you’d rather use your own fabric, that is fantastic. They just ask that it is bright, cheery, and perfect for young children. Also, the quilt must be approximately 38″- 40″ x 45″- 46″ in size and must be machine quilted. Don’t worry, you can machine quilt straight lines right on your regular ‘ol machine. And because these quilts are small, you can fit a quilt this size under your sewing machine needle.
The quilt kits that are sent out, come with the fabric necessary to create a Four-Patch Quilt (that’s just the name of the pattern design). However, there are many more quilt patterns with instructions that are all suitable for this “Downy Touch of Comfort – Quilts for Kids” program, found here.
**Just as an FYI, if you’re using your own fabric, be sure to follow the guidelines listed on the Quilts for Kids site here. Quilts in hospitals can’t be rag quilts or be yarn tied because extra edges can snag on IVs or even create extra lint which can be harmful to medical equipment.
Are you feeling nervous about putting a whole quilt together? Especially one that is pieced together? Let me show you that it’s not so hard. It’s just a bunch of straight lines. I promise, you’ll love sewing each piece together, knowing that it will surely brighten up a little one’s bleak day.
UPDATE: This tutorial only shows how to create the quilt top. If you’d like to see how to “quilt” the layers together and then how to bind the edges, go here. I finished off the quilt (a few weeks later) and it’s now available if you need a visual.
If you request a kit, this is what you’ll receive. All nicely cut out for you. (Cutting is the worst part for me. So I love that the kit is all ready to go.)
If you want to make a Four-Patch Quilt from your stash, go here to find written instructions and how much fabric you’ll need to cut your own pieces.
And in case a visual is easier for you than written instructions…………here’s how to put it all together. (Everything is sewn with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.)
Start by sewing one Fabric A strip together with a Fabric B strip, along one long side, with right sides together.
Then open it up and iron the seam to one side on the back. (I ironed it over to the blue side.) Then sew the other two Fabric A & B strips together and iron the seam in the back over to the same side as you did the first one. (You do this so that in a future step, the seam allowances lay opposite each other. It just helps eliminate some bulk.)
Next, cut each A & B strip that you sewed together, into 3.5 inch sections.
Then grab 2 of these little 3.5 inch sections and flip one around, to create a checkerboard look. Sew them together with right sides together.
Then fold the seam over on the back, and iron it flat.
Repeat, until you have sewn together all 15 squares.
Then place them all down, alternating them with the plain fabric 6.5 inch squares, and lining them up just how you want your quilt to look.
But be sure that you don’t have one of the Four-Patch squares turned the wrong way. You should be able to see continuous diagonal lines going through your quilt. (The little red squares and the little blue squares create diagonal lines. See it?)
Next, being careful to keep each square in order, take the entire top row and sew all the squares together, with right sides together. Continue until all 6 rows are sewn together. Iron flat.
Then iron the down the seam allowances on the back of each strip, all facing to the right on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th rows. Then iron the seam allowances to the left on the 2nd, 4th, and 6th rows. That way, when you iron each row together, the seam allowances are facing different directions and will nest right up next to each other and won’t be so bulky when trying to sew. Now, sew each row together.
Next, attach the narrow border strips to the sides of the quilt, then add the top border strips. Iron flat.
Do the same with the wider border strips, sewing the sides first and then the top. Iron flat.
Now the quilt top is done. And is ready to be matched up with the backing fabric and batting. And then quilted and bound.
Which I still need to do. And I will.
And then I’ll sign the quilt and send it off (address found here) so that some little deserving boy/girl, who may not be having the best day in the hospital, will receive a little something to cheer them up.
Definitely worth all the effort.
If you’re unsure how to finish up your quilt, go here to see how to add your batting layer and bind the quilt. That tutorial shows how to machine quilt with a meandering seam but if your machine can’t do that, just create diagonal lines that go through every block. A visual diagram can be seen in the written pattern here.
UPDATE: If you’d like to see how to “quilt” the layers together and then how to bind the edges, go here. I finished off the quilt (a few weeks later) and it’s now available if you need a visual.