Tag Archives: quilting

The Story of the Parkinson’s Comfort Project

Last July, when it was very warm (unlike today), I taped an interview with Nancy Zieman, host of the PBS show Sewing with Nancy, about the little nonprofit I founded, the Parkinson’s Comfort Project.

The interview has been released and I am so excited to share it with you all. And I hope you will share this with others.

The Sewing with Nancy interview

Sweet Sixteen?

The Parkinson’s Comfort Project is taking up almost all of my quilting time lately. Between work, the holidays and dealing with some of the challenges life put in our path this fall and early winter, the Parkinson’s Comfort quilts in my care got a little behind.

16 quilts to bind
16 quilts to bind

So faced with the prospect of some “free” time between Christmas and New Year’s, I got myself organized to tackle three piles: Completed quilts that just needed to have their pictures taken and inventory numbers assigned; Quilts that needed to be bound and then photographed and inventoried; and quilt tops in various stages from complete to needs-a-little sewing.

And then I went to make myself a cup of tea because, whew, there’s some might piles in my studio!!

The first and most obvious to tackle was the complete quilts. Here’s a couple of the 17 quilts in that pile just to show you what dazzlers our quilting friends are. The first one was made by Marianne Kotch of Barre, Vermont and the second was made by Joanne Shapp of Pomfret, Vermont.

Quilt by Marianne Kotch
Quilt by Marianne Kotch
Quilt by Joanne Shapp
Quilt by Joanne Shapp

Stunning, aren’t they?

The second pile was the quilts to be bound. I had 15 Parkinson’s quilts in that one plus another that was originally made for my mother that needs to be rebound for a total of sixteen.

I usually machine stitch a binding on the front of a quilt and then hand stitch it on the back. But with so many quilts to do, and because I’ve been practicing, I decided to do all of these by machine.

So far, I’ve been able to whittle that pile down to nine.

Quilt top by Jane Buskey
Quilt top by Jane Buskey
Quilt by Bob Johnson
Quilt by Bob Johnson


And I’m happy with the bindings. Here’s a sample of the ones I’ve finished so far.

As for the unfinished tops, **sigh**, those are going to take a lot more time.

The Generosity of Quilters

The Parkinson’s Comfort Project attends conferences every year to talk about what we do and to distribute quilts. On Monday, we’ll be at the Grappone Center in Concord, NH at a conference put together by Diane Church of the Parkinson’s Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Olivia was one of the recipients who smiled all day. Her quilt was made by Joanne Shapp.
Olivia was one of the recipients who smiled all day. Her quilt was made by Joanne Shapp.

I have four totes full of the most gorgeous quilts to give away to people on a Parkinson’s journey. I know they will bring smiles to the faces of those who bring them home.

Quilt by Sarah Monego
Quilt by Sarah Monego

Within the quilting community, the generosity of those who love to play with fabric is well known. Every guild I know of has a community service committee that makes and gives these magical gifts to those in need. And many guilds and individual quilters adopt programs such as the Parkinson’s Comfort Project or Quilts of Valor as recipients of their creations.

Quilt by Ellie Leach
Quilt by Ellie Leach

But too many people outside the quilting community are unaware of this giving. So I wanted to take this space to give you just a wee sample of the 34 quilts that will find new homes on Monday. The first one was made by Sarah Monego of Thetford, Vermont. The second is by Ellie Leach of Wells River, Vermont. And the third is by Nancy Graham of Newport, NH.
2014-072: Nancy Graham 2 for web
And the turquoise and yellow creation wrapped around the shoulders of a recipient at the spring Parkinson’s conference was made by Joanne Shapp of Pomfret, Vermont.

My heart just overflows with gratitude.

Piecing for Parkinson’s

In addition to writing books, author Sonja Hakala is also the founder of the Parkinson’s Comfort Project.

And a quilter and designer, etc. etc.

Red button bag made for the Parkinson's Comfort Project
Red button bag made for the Parkinson’s Comfort Project

The Parkinson’s Comfort Project is growing and Sonja has decided to combine outreach with fundraising by choosing to vend at two quilt shows in 2015.

There will also be objects that folks can own in exchange for donations, handmade items plus books and patterns.

This bag, number one in a series of 19 (each a little different) is designed to wear across-the-body and has an adjustable strap. These are great for shopping, roomy enough for a wallet and other smallish items that leave your hands free.

The outside is sturdy canvas, the inside is fully lined, and it’s just so darned cute!!!

Don’t you want one?

Sweet Little Quilt

Triangle quilt made for the Parkinson's Comfort Project
Triangle quilt made for the Parkinson’s Comfort Project

There are some days when it’s just so worth going to the mailbox.

Imagine my surprise when our mail delivery guy (an intrepid and friendly soul named Charlie) brought this smallish box to my door the other morning.

The address label was not one I recognized but when I opened the box, I knew exactly why that package had arrived at my door.

Inside was the sweetest quilt made of simple half-square triangle blocks in a color palette that immediately makes everyone who sees it go “Awwwww.”

This quilt was made by a Diane Lambert from Danville, Vermont, a woman I don’t believe I know. It is a contribution to the Parkinson’s Comfort Project.

The blocks are 4 inches finished which means they must have started life as 4 3/4 to 5-inch squares.

It was quilted just right, simple swirling circular shapes, and it must have gone through the washer and dryer because it has a wonderful softness to it that makes it snuggly.

Wow, if I keep talking this way, I’m going to have to go take a nap—or make a cup of tea.

I think I’ll vote for the tea.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share this wonderful gift to the Parkinson’s Comfort Project. I know that whoever receives this quilt will be delighted.

The Gift of a Magical Day

Maureen Nevers at the Piecing for Parkinson's event
Maureen Nevers at the Piecing for Parkinson’s event

Most of the time, most of us go through our days without stopping to be grateful.

But then—once in a while—you receive the gift of a magical day, one that you know makes life worthwhile.

I had that experience on Saturday at our first annual Piecing for Parkinson’s day.

I founded the Parkinson’s Comfort Project in honor of my Mom and Dad at the end of 2010, the year my Mom died of complications of Parkinson’s disease. The last quilt I made for her was smallish—quilters call them lap quilts—because the bed quilts I’d made for her had become too heavy for her to manage.

After Mom died, I looked around for an organization that would take  quilts I made in her memory and distribute them to folks with Parkinson’s disease.

Well, no such organization existed. So I had to start one.

The Parkinson’s Comfort Project is now growing into a full-blown nonprofit that provides comfort in all sorts of way to people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers.

One of the other members of our board, Annette Houston, is a quilter as well. We had been talking about putting together a day of quilting for Parkinson’s. But the woman pictured here, Maureen, is the one who got it jump started.

Maureen lost her Mom to a rare form of Parkinson’s disease last year, and like me, was looking for a way to give support to those similarly afflicted. She heard about the Parkinson’s Comfort Project, and emailed me to ask: Do you ever have sewing days to make quilts? If you do, I’d love to be involved.

So Annette and I got to work, and the result was a magical day with a lot of stories brought to us by the people who came to help. I’ll be telling them all week long, right here.

What Has He Got in His Pocketses?

Placemat 1 for web Placemat 2 for web Placemat 3 for web Placemat 4 for web Placemat 5 for web Placemat 6 for web
Our son’s birthday was yesterday.

And since he’s the child of DIY parents, that always means there’s something handmade among his gifts.

A couple of months back, I heard his fiancé say that they could use some new placemats.

Now if you’re a beginning quilter, placemats are the very best place to start learning because they are, essentially, very small quilts.

These got started when I was inspired by a pattern in my guild’s newsletter called “Cheaper by the Dozen,” a scrappy quilt made from sets of six rectangles measuring 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches.

I thought “Cheaper by the Dozen” was perfect for making Parkinson’s quilts so I took nearly all my fat quarters and largish scraps, cut them all to size, and now I have precuts to make easy tops any time I want.

I was laying out a single block (which measures 12 1/2 inches square unfinished) when I thought it would be fun to cut the two ends off and reverse them to make something a bit more interesting for a placemat.

So I did and liked the effect. But I obviously needed to add something more to make them long enough horizontally and that’s when I remembered that I had this stack of back pockets from old blue jeans just sitting around waiting their turn to be part of something.

Presto–placemats like no others.

The pockets are perfect for the inserting of napkins and silverware. Roll them up and take them on a picnic.

I even got to use up some of my 2 1/2 inch binding strips. I just love scrappy projects like that.