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Palisades Lutheran Church’s Annual Hands and Hearts Together Craft Event at the Oktoberfest, October 2015

The group raised $4800 in 2015 for Claris Health, Newborns in Need, and Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.







DIANE REAGAN featured in the October/November issue of VOGUE PATTERNS


Photo taken by Bob Reagan of the 10 quilts and one knitted afghan made for babies of clients of Westside Pregnancy Clinic.  Pictured in the photo are 4 members of Palisades Lutheran Church who helped make the quilts.  They are – -(left to right) –Glenna Colton, Ann Evelyn, Elizabeth Metzelaar and Diane Reagan.

The quilts were made as part of an on-going Palisades Lutheran Church (PLC) congregational effort to support the Westside Pregnancy Clinic and the young women who face many challenges when they decide to keep their babies.  In addition to making the quilts,  PLC members donate money, diapers and other necessities to the Westside Pregnancy Clinic as an on-going ministry. The quilts were made from kits created by PLC members.  They were draped over the church pews on March 20, 2011, when prayers were offered by Pastor Mees for the women and babies who will use them.


THE GRANDMA QUILTS: (excerpt from The Laughing Grandma)

“She makes coverings for her bed” (Proverbs 31:22). 

While she wasn’t a quilter, Mom loved quilts, and she made simple blankets for her grandbabies.  She also started  a Dresden Plate quilt in the 1980’s during one of her frequent visits.  Her mother, Julia, pieced quilts on her treadle foot sewing machine.  Her quilts consisted of wool squares and rectangles of wool cut from clothing that was no longer being worn. The quilts were designed for warmth, but they were also visually appealing, in a comfortable, homespun way.  One of my grandmother’s quilts was folded and kept on her big old-fashioned rocking chair.  I can still feel that wool quilt on my toddler legs, as I leaned forward and then back to get the chair rocking.

After Mom passed away, we all went over to her house to choose things that we wanted to keep to remember her.  I went straight to her closet, and began pulling out her cotton clothing.  Several in the group were puzzled by the pile of clothing I pulled out of her closet– cotton blouses, housedresses and the like, which were not my style, and too big for me.  Most curious to them was my choice of almost threadbare clothing.

“I am going to use Mom’s clothing to make patchwork quilts for myself and for each of our children,” I explained.    I loaded several boxes of mostly mom’s clothing in my car, with visions of the colorful quilts I would make for the children.  I wanted them to be able to pull the quilts around themselves to feel Grandma’s comfort, long after her passing.  Our daughter, Julia, had produced a slideshow for Mom’s memorial service.  Mom was wearing many of the articles of clothing in the photographs featured in the slideshow, that I nabbed for the project.

Within a few days, I received requests from my niece and from one of my brothers for quilts from mom’s clothing.  After polling the rest of the family, I discovered, that in addition to our children, all of my four brothers and the remaining four grandchildren wanted quilts from Grandma’s clothes—for a total of thirteen quilts, including mine!

I quickly realized that I would not be able to make thirteen quilts, and, as a quilt maker, I intuitively understood that I should not make all of the quilts, because each person would have his or her own ideas about color, fabrics, patchwork designs and the like.  The quilts would be much more meaningful if each family participated in the making.

I polled the group again, this time asking if my daughter, niece and sisters-in-law would like to participate in a quilt making week-end–promising them that they need only be able to sew a straight line, and that if they worked for two or three days, they would each go home with a finished quilt.   They all agreed, and we set the event for a week-end in September 2009.

I set about preparing all of the clothing to be used in the project and photographed all of the articles of clothing, so that we could remember the items of clothing from which the fabrics were cut.  Next, I carefully cut apart each item of clothing to maximize the amount of fabric available.  I knew that everyone would want a piece of some of the fabrics, and that it would be difficult to parse out pieces of fabric from some of mom’s oft worn clothing.  After interfacing some of the well-worn fabrics with yards of lightweight interfacing, I ended up with an ample stash of fabric for the project.

The next step was deciding on the designs.  Keeping my mother’s personality and the colors of her clothing and the skill level of the quilters in mind, I worked on the quilt designs–some traditional and others newer designs, adding some of my own touches.  The designs were worked out on graph paper, and when they were finished, I pasted tiny bits of my mother’s fabrics onto the paper patterns to get an idea of what the finished quilt would look like.

I named one of the patterns “On the Road to Somewhere,” because Mom encouraged us to follow paths in life that would fulfill the dreams of our hearts.   We take circuitous routes in life—skirting around fields of dreams, bumping into dead ends, and retracing our steps.

Armed with the color mock-ups of the various designs, I selected samples of fabrics which would coordinate with the stash of my mother’s fabrics.  One of my sons, Michael, who is an artist, poured over the swatches and the design mock ups with me and helped choose the new coordinating fabrics for the blocks, binding, backing and labels. We scanned the quilt designs and coordinating fabrics, and e-mailed them to all participants to make their choices.

After conferring with everyone again, purchasing the fabric, cutting out the squares from Mom’s clothing, the batt, backing fabric and binding, I made up a “kit” for each quilt recipient.

The centerpiece of each quilt was a block embroidered with a poem written by my mother to the recipient.  When all was said and done, there were seven kits—each in its own extra large ziplock bag with the recipient’s name.

Enlisting our other sons, Bobby and Peter to help, we set up a makeshift quilting studio in our music room.  After rolling up the rug and moving the furniture around, we set up a long table for my four Bernina sewing machines.  The “studio” was completed with an ironing board and iron, and mats and cutters to trim blocks and baskets of other quilting essentials.

We spent a wonderful week-end together, sewing and reminiscing about Mom.  Some started working on Thursday afternoon, and others arrived the next day.  During the week-end, we ate some of the foods that my mother and grandmother made, including the Magic Cookie bars that my mother made for our children.  I baked pumpernickel bread like my grandmother’s, and we ate “Grandma’s Pancakes” for breakfast.  We told family stories, fingered the fabrics from my mother’s clothing, dined and took long walks together.  I felt Mom’s presence with us all week-end.

During the week-end, our daughter-the-documentarian, interviewed all of us and took video clips and photos of us working.   Afterwards, she created a DVD of the event, and made a copy for each participant, to remember the week-end that the women in the family came together to make seven quilts from Grandma’s clothes.

On Sunday afternoon we all lined up in our yard to take a photo of us holding up seven mostly finished quilts made from Mom’s clothes—the Grandma quilts.  Soon the exhausted quilters were all on the road to somewhere with their precious bundles of quilts.

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