Passage Quilts Medley
Almost a year ago, my father was in the hospital for the last time, trying to outsmart end-stage kidney cancer. When he was finally placed in hospice care, the chaplain visited his room with a quilt made by a local California church group. That was far more impactful than I had ever anticipated. My father, a stoic, old-school farm boy who became an psychologist and then a community advocate, was deeply appreciative of this kind gesture.
I’ve spoken with others who have their own touching stories of end-of-life quilts and each person seems to have a similar experience. I hope this collection of information will inspire you to put “sew a Passage Quilt” on your list of projects.
Thank you to the tireless quilters who have been working on this project for years.
This fall we are highlighting one of our chapter’s most gratifying community service projects—the Passage Quilt project at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. This group provides comfort to end-of-life patients and their families through the provision of a handmade quilt. Several members of our guild have been on the receiving end of this and have spoken movingly of the emotions they felt when choosing a quilt for their loved one.
Approximately 400 quilts are provided each year to these patients in transition and their families. Numerous volunteers create a wide variety of Passage Quilt tops which are then layered, quilted and finished by a second group of volunteers. Upon completion, the quilts join the available inventory, and a patient’s family members may then select a specific quilt.
Many of you may have thought, “I can’t participate—I’m not a quilter.” But, the fact is anyone who knows how to sew a straight seam can make a quilt top. The Passage Quilt team will provide fully or partially pre-cut quilt top kits along with directions. Our Community Service team has prepared some “tips and tricks” to ease you through your first quilt top. And – remember you only need to make the top itself. Someone else will layer, quilt and bind it. Who knows? Once you finish the first one, you may be bitten by the bug and decide you just could be: a Quilter!
Our neighborhood and special interest groups may be presenting more information to you in one of their fall meetings. If you’d like to get started on your own, contact the chapter Community Service coordinator, Linda Cadzow. We can get you a quilt kit and help you get started.
If you have a bit more quilting experience, you don’t need to start with a kit. This is a great way to stretch yourself a little. Try a pattern you’re curious about or try your hand at designing! For information about Passage Quilt requirements, sizes and materials, check out our Community Service page.
Take the time you need for this; there are no deadlines in this on-going effort. Once your top(s) are completed, contact Community Service to work out an appropriate drop-off/collection time and place. We could even trade you another quilt kit for the one you’ve just finished!
Inspiration from a Garment Seamstress
Garment sewers make good quilters because they already have lots of skills including the ability to sew straight seams.
The Passage quilt kit will be the perfect place to start. All you need to do is sew quarter inch seams. In quilting, you don’t need to backstitch at the ends because seams cross. Quilters use short stitch, either 2.0 or 2.5 so seams stay pretty well.
Don’t press seams open, just press to one side—usually to the darker side. Butt seams so one set goes each way. They lock and form a flat seam of uniform thickness.
The Passage quilt designs are easy, but not boring. Have fun!
Tips for New Quilters
- So the things to know:
Seam allowance: Kits are cut for 1/4 Inch seam allowances. (Sometimes it doesn’t matter as long as you’re consistent, but sometimes it does.) Quilts are never serged.
- Pressing: Quilters press seams to one side rather than pressing them open. Generally, press towards the darker fabric to avoid shadowing. Quilters like opposing seams, so that they nest together for a nice match. However, instructions are not given for pressing so it’s up to you to figure that out. Don’t sweat it.
- Thread: Quilters can get very righteous about the need for cotton thread. Frankly, as long as you use a thin, strong thread, it will be fine. Also, quilters don’t really worry about matching thread to fabric color, an appropriate neutral thread is fine, usually white, gray or black.
- Borders: Some quilters are taught to piece borders with diagonal seams; however, Passage Quilt kits are cut for straight seams. The edges of quilts are prone to stretching; measure your borders through the middle of the quilt and ease the quilt to fit the border if necessary.
If you would like additional inspiration or help with a Passage Quilt project, CRS has groups that meet on the Westside and the Eastside of Portland. See the schedule here.