Stitches – August 2013

 Quilting For A Cause
 – Grace Bennett, Samantha Phillips And Christopher Ruvo
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Decorators across the country joined Stitches in a quilt-creating project that honors and contributes to many charitable causes and foundations. What resulted is a collection of stories that will touch your heart.

Quilting is more than a pleasant pastime. It’s a living art form with the power to move and inspire, to reflect a culture and generate awareness – even to effect change.

Impressed by quilting’s potential to be a positive force, Stitches was compelled to spearhead a cause-driven quilt project. Titled Quilting For A Cause, the effort resulted in The Stitches Hopeful Hearts Quilt a colorful ensemble of 12 unique blocks created by talented and altruistic embroiderers from around the nation. Rather than advocate on behalf of one cause, the quilt’s individual squares each bring attention to an issue close to the heart of the artisan who stitched it. As a result, a myriad of causes and charities come to the fore, covering those that focus on everything from combating Alzheimer’s and Cystic Fibrosis, to those that fight hunger and domestic violence.

To take the quilt from concept to reality, Stitches turned to Geri Finio, an accomplished quilter and deft embroidery artist. The owner of Studio 187, a custom embroidery studio, did the painstaking quilting, using her talented hands to turn the disparate squares into an attractive, unified quilt. Before Finio (see “Q&A” with her on pg. 59) could get started, however, we needed to find willing square-makers. To do that, we sent an open invitation to embroiderers in the nationwide Stitches community. After poring through the avalanche of interested queries, we enlisted 13 stitch experts some working in pairs whose mix of needle skill and devotion to their causes stood out. Not only did these dedicated stitch pros create artful squares, they directly contributed to their causes through initiatives like volunteering or making donations. Going a step further, they told the Compelling stories behind their quilt blocks through essays that can be read in the pages ahead, and in videos and photos that are viewable online at

Without the hard work of Finio and the rest of the team, without their willingness to take time from their busy days, the quilt would have remained a mere idea, interesting but unrealized. Instead, it came to wonderful life, debuting publically in July at The ASI Show Chicago, one of the top trade shows for the promotional products industry. The show is put on by the Advertising Specialty Institute, Stitches’ parent company. Starting this month, the quilt will travel to the shops of the participating square-makers a journey you can learn more about online at

After completing its cross-country trip, the quilt will find a final home at ASI’s corporate headquarters, where it’ll be prominently displayed in a main corridor that hundreds of employees walk through daily. “ASI is incredibly proud of the decorators who so generously donate their time and resources to public service and we can’t think of a more fitting display of their commitment to making the world a better place than this beautiful quilt,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of ASI.

For us at Stitches, the quilt project meant a lot. It was a chance to take part in the storied quilting tradition. It was a chance to help create a shared purpose among embroiderers and to call attention to worthy causes. And, it was a chance to reflect to a wide audience something special that we experience day in and day out in talking to embroiderers around the country: that the people who make up this industry have a lot of heart. Christopher Ruvo


Embroiderers relate the stories behind their quilt block in their own words. Plus, we offer technical breakdowns of each square and insight and feedback from the charities they support.

Alzheimer’s Awareness

Square Stitchers: Gail Gilmore and Donna Fenstermacher, A To Z Wear Ltd., Cincinnati

“When we learned about Stitches’ Quilting For A Cause project, we saw it as an opportunity to help raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why we created this particular square.

“Alzheimer’s is near and dear to my heart, as my great-aunt and brother-in-law have passed away due to this disease. My great-aunt lived with my family and me for six years. Her mind slowly deteriorated over that time. I brought her to work with me at A to Z Wear for approximately two years. My business partner was very involved in helping me care for her. We even set up a bedroom for her at work. Often, she would wander in our work area because she didn’t like being separated. She was a blessing to us and our business.

“At the time, we didn’t realize that she was teaching us to be prepared for my sister’s husband being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years after my aunt’s death. My sister did a wonderful job caring for her husband over the 10-year time period that the disease progressed. He passed away November 27, 2012, at age 65. To her great credit, my sister has become a true advocate for Alzheimer’s awareness and for the hope that further research will lead to an improvement in care and a cure.

“In addition to creating this square to help raise awareness, we had stickers made to distribute at the walk/ run for Alzheimer’s event in May in Cincinnati. We’ll also have stickers printed for the event in October.” – Donna Fenstermacher


Gail Gilmore and Donna Fenstermacher decided to stick with a simple design to emphasize the importance of their message: “Memories don’t always last a lifetime.” The embroidered brain framed by the silhouette of the head is one of the first aspects to which a viewer’s eye is drawn. Embroidered using a fill stitch, this is symbolic of the heavy impact memory loss can have on Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Meanwhile, the satin stitch border of the Alzheimer’s Association logo makes the symbol seem to jump off the square, especially against the sky-blue shade of the backdrop fabric. This fabric features a shingled texture, which sets off the deep purple, satinstitched lettering. The lettering is designed to look like it was drawn from calligraphy, giving the piece an elegant appeal.


The Alzheimer’s Association’s mission is to encourage the advancement of medical research focused on discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that causes severe memory loss while affecting behavior, logic and intellectual ability. The many chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association provide services for sufferers and their families, including support groups, help lines, educational programs and safety services.

Paula Kollstedt, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati, was humbled that Gilmore and Fenstermacher featured the organization in their quilt square. Says Kollstedt: “The more visibility we can have as to the importance of this cause, the closer we are to accomplishing our vision, which is a world without Alzheimer’s.”

The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati raises approximately $825,000 through special events; about $340,000 comes in through donations, while an additional $60,000 comes in through grants.

LEARN MORE: cincinnati

A Stand Against Abuse

Square Stitcher: Abbie Andersen, Bootstrap Threads, Gig Harbor, WA

“Domestic violence takes many shapes and forms. To raise awareness and show support of the many victims, we lovingly participated in this quilt project and donated apparel to The Crystal Judson Family Support Center of Tacoma, WA. The center is named in honor of Crystal Judson Brame. She was murdered in 2003 by her husband, then Tacoma Police Department Police Chief David Brame, who also took his own life. This tragedy occurred with their children present.

“Personally, I was compelled to contribute to the domestic violence cause and participate in this quilt project by a tragic story that involves a friend, who was a victim of domestic abuse. A mother with two young daughters, my friend was in a very stressful, abusive marriage. She then was involved in a bitter divorce that focused primarily on custody of her two daughters and, secondly, on asset distribution. This was a family that seemed from the outside to be quite normal. The parents were educated and successful. They lived in a nice home in a lovely neighborhood. Their children attended a private school. But this was just an image.

“Looking back, I failed to see how broken my friend was. She appeared unstable; she wasn’t eating or sleeping. During that time, I tried to be supportive, but at the same time, I wanted to keep my distance. Looking back, I wonder what her family and friends could have done better to have changed the tragic trajectory she was on. Very sadly, her path was to prison for conspiracy to commit murder against her husband. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to almost 14 years in jail. She can’t contact her children, who will be in their early 20s when she’s released. She has now lost what she valued most.

“When the news broke, we couldn’t believe it. It was surreal, unfathomable. This was a woman who was educated who was dedicated to her children, her church, and her extended family and friends. In honor of abused women like my friend, we hope to get the message out that these victims of spousal abuse have options – that there’s help. We hope to help prevent tragedies.”


With her quilt square, Abbie Andersen wants to call attention to the ravages of domestic violence. The square displays the purple ribbons associated with domestic violence awareness; Andersen hopes that it conveys the severity of domestic violence and the toll it can take. She used her commercial embroidery machine to make the design. The displayed image of the ribbon was digitized and sewed onto the fabric with rayon thread. Andersen completed the square within an hour.


Tacoma, WA-based Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (FJC) opened in 2005 in memory of Crystal Judson, a long-term domestic violence sufferer who was killed by her husband. The FJC serves domestic violence victims and their families by offering basic necessities and a safe place to go. The charity provides a lot of services for affected victims, including: legal support, counseling, support groups, housing, emergency assistance, protection orders, spiritual support, transportation and safety planning. Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (A Stand Against Abuse) raises around $50,000 per year.

FJC Executive Board Chair Rick Talbert says: “It’s an honor for the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center to be featured in the charity quilt. Raising awareness about domestic violence is critical to our work to end this life-shattering form of abuse.” The charity hopes to better the lives of those who are struggling, and stands by the words written on a plaque in memory of Crystal Judson: “May all who walk through these doors find strength, courage and hope.”

LEARN MORE: www.aplaceof

‘Families Are Forever’

Square Stitcher: Sandy Miller, Sandy’s Sweet Embroidery Creations, Hendersonville, NC

“I have two causes that inspired my squares. One is working with single moms, and the other is working with the elderly. I’m 57 years young and a student online at Liberty University, working on my bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on Christian Life Coaching. I want to help single moms create vision and direction for their otherwise hectic lives. I was a single mom and know the challenges of trying to raise a family on your own; I’d love to be able to come alongside young struggling women trying to do the same thing.

“My second charity is on the other end of the spectrum. It involves working with elderly women. For the past year, I’ve been going to a local assisted living facility and doing crafts with the elderly. We’ve made all sorts of things, from Christmas stockings to Mother’s Day corsages. I’d love to someday provide them with a wall quilt reflecting pictures that remind them of home.

“The tulip trio design has a lot of meaning to me. Years ago, when my children were teens and I was having a lot of trouble with them, I was in a parenting class. We were doing art therapy in which we were asked to draw anything that came to mind. I ended up drawing a trio of tulips. The center tulip represented me, and the ones on either side represented each of my children. But now, instead of me holding them up as was the case in that picture of so many years ago they help hold me up. Although I’ve remarried and have a very loving husband, my children will always be my first family, because families really are forever.”

“When I was chosen to participate in The Stitches Hopeful Hearts Quilt, I knew the quilt squares needed to reflect my Christian beliefs. I chose the heart and hands design because it represents loving hands helping one another. The phrase ‘to God be the glory’ just wouldn’t leave me, so I knew it had to be incorporated into the design. The construction of the quilt squares isn’t perfect, but I’m not either. The message and intent of this project is about much more than perfectionism; it’s about heart.


Sandy Miller used a stock design from Embroidery Library called Spring Tulip Trio to create the flowers to decorate her Families Are Forever square. She chose the pink, blue and purple color scheme to represent her and her two children. A satin stitch winds from the heads of the tulips, creating spiraling dual-toned green stems. Fill stitches were used on the tulip blooms, adding a textured effect to the petals. Miller often stitches in a traditional style to reflect her traditional values.

For her other square, Miller also features a bold color scheme and the same traditional style. An array of different fabric patterns sends the viewer’s eye immediately to the heart in the center of the square, where Miller embroidered two interlaced hands to represent the helping hands of the generous volunteers within many charitable communities.

Satin-stitched lettering in neon yellow spells out “To God Be the Glory” a phrase that informs and powers Miller’s life. With the square, the only struggle Miller encountered was arranging the lettering to frame the central images in a pleasing way without distracting from them.


Based in Melbourne, FL, the Brevard Rescue Mission is a shelter for homeless single mothers and their children. The organization’s goal is to provide women with the tools and resources to survive as single parents.

Although the nonprofit’s main objective is to offer temporary shelter for the mothers, it also educates them on important life skills and financial habits to enable them to succeed. Skills they learn include time management, interviewing, nutrition and budgeting. Brevard Rescue Mission last year served 47 residents. Its year-end appeal raised $55,000.

Stacia Glavas, the mission’s founder and CEO, feels privileged to have her cause included in the cause quilt. “We’re honored that someone feels so connected to our mission,” Glavas says. “Sharing our vision to truly ‘break the cycle of homelessness with women and their children’ offers us another opportunity to highlight the need in not only our community, but in communities all over our country.” Learn More:

A Mother’s Stitches

Square Stitcher: Robin Mouton, Back Gate Embroidery, Sneads Ferry, NC

“I created these two squares in tribute to the Special Olympics Onslow County and the Down Syndrome Network of Onslow and Carteret Counties. My reasons for doing so are quite personal. In 1991, my husband and I had our first child, Donovan. He was born with Down syndrome. My first concern at the time was how to tell my husband, who was in the Marine Corps, serving in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. My second concern was obtaining books on Down syndrome and learning as much as possible. I was determined to provide the best life for our son. Nowadays, I find myself trying to help other families that have a child with Down syndrome. I want to help them to not feel so afraid and to show that, even though a child may be different, he or she is capable of success and plenty of love.

“I really got a great chance to get involved when my son was 11. It was then that he started participating in Special Olympics. A change of circumstance left the kids without an assistant swim coach, so I stepped in. I’ve been coaching ever since. Two years ago, I reformed and became the head coach of – our Special Olympic soccer team, which won a gold medal last season. I’ve also been on the Special Olympic Onslow County Committee for a few years, helping with local fall/ spring games and with our Polar Plunge fundraiser.

“After Donovan graduated high school and started working and attending an adult day program, I left my job to assist him with transportation and supervision. It was then, too, that I started my embroidery business out of my home and got involved with the Down Syndrome Network of Onslow and Carteret Counties. I’ve since become vice president of DSNOCC and coordinator of the charity’s primary fundraiser, the Buddy Walk. The smiles and hugs I get from the athletes and the pride I feel when I help accomplish something as spectacular as the Buddy Walk just can’t be beat.”


Robin Mouton was so enthusiastic for this project that she created two squares. To create the blocks, Mouton used her Happy HCD 15-needle machine with RAPOS 100 polyester thread. The logos were digitized with the Stitch N Sew2 software.

The first block has the circle star, which Mouton paper-pieced together. The color royal blue is the color of the SOOC. The second square, which displays the friendship star, was created by standard piecing and has a digitized center logo. Mouton chose the colors of Down syndrome awareness, yellow and blue, for this square. She wanted to put the DSNOCC logo in the friendship star to represent the friends she has made through the group. The SOOC logo was thoughtfully placed inside the circle star to convey a sense of unity and strong bonds. In a circle, there’s no top and no bottom; everyone is needed to form the whole.


The Special Olympics of Onslow County (SOOC), NC, is a charity founded to help intellectually challenged individuals have a positive, encouraging experience through an active environment that is channeled through athletics. There is no cost to participants’ families. Keith Fishburn, SOOC’s president/ CEO, is honored to have the organization be a part of the quilt project. “Being highlighted in Stitches magazine may bring us some more athletes and give us a new audience,” he says.

The Down Syndrome Network of Onslow and Carteret Counties (DSNOCC) Inc. was founded in 2011 by loving parents who wanted to provide the best life possible for their children with Down syndrome. The group seeks to unite families and friends who have loved ones with intellectual challenges. “We’re a growing organization, so it’s wonderful for us to have the publicity,” says Jennifer Wiser, president of DSNOCC. “But more importantly, it’s truly wonderful for our kids with Down syndrome to be honored in this way.”

LEARN MORE: Down Syndrome Network of Onslow County: www.; and Special Olympics (Onslow County): http://sonconslow. Org/about

House of Hope

Square Stitcher: Loronda Schuler, Heav’n Sent Creations, Marshall, MN

“The House of Hope Minnesota is a wonderful place where girls between the ages of 12 and 18 can find help to overcome many of the behavioral issues that plague teens. The organization’s mission is to ‘provide a Christ-centered home where teens in crisis can find hope and healing and to provide community programming that is preventative in nature.’

“As I was working on a new set of embroidery designs with butterflies, I thought they’d be perfect symbols to represent the House of Hope. The girls who come there remind me of butterflies: They come to the home encapsulated in their cocoons of behaviors, insecurities, family struggles and many other issues. But when they graduate, they’ve become like beautiful butterflies, equipped for life with wonderful support, coping tools and faith.

“Every year, I spend a couple of days at the House of Hope doing a sewing project with the girls. We’ve sewn different items depending on the time of year. This year, I decided that a basic quilting/embroidery project would be a great fit to go along with Stitches’ charity quilt initiative.

“The project involved having the girls make pillows with an 18” and 9” patch design. I took the girls to our local quilt shop, and they chose two coordinating fabrics to make their pillows. Then, each girl sat with me and designed her center square, which I then embroidered. We talked about coordinating with the fabric choice, color choices, size of designs and stitch-out time. They also chose their favorite scripture to add to the square. On our second day, the girls put together their nine-patch pillows with great excitement.

“Each year, I’ve watched this program do miracles to change the lives of troubled teens. It’s my hope that the pillows will help the girls learn sewing and embroidery skills and remind the girls of their successes at the House of Hope Minnesota.”


When Loronda Schuler began the design process for her quilt square, she had one objective in mind: Clearly represent the idea of transformation. That’s why she chose the fill-stitched butterfly image that’s the block’s central focus.

Schuler crafted her color scheme to match the winged creature and thus came an array of matching pastel and cream threads, which combine to give the piece a calming feel. In addition, the Celtic loops crafted with a satin stitch add an interesting aesthetic element. Satin stitches also make up the cream inner frame and the green border, producing a pleasing frame effect.

Meanwhile, Schuler used appliqué for the inner and outer fabrics. Among the satin-stitched lettering is a Bible passage that Schuler feels defines the message of the nonprofit she supports: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts” (Romans 5:5).


House of Hope Minnesota is a nonprofit Christian organization that provides a loving environment where troubled teenage girls can work through their emotional and spiritual struggles. The house educates these young girls on how to grow into active and successful members of society. The staff encourages the teens to get involved in service groups within their communities and guides them away from damaging influences. House of Hope Minnesota raises about $325,000 annually.

Claudia Stenson, director of House of Hope Minnesota, says, “There are Houses of Hope across the nation, and I believe this is a great way for people to find out that there are resources that aren’t necessarily court-ordered or through social service.” LEARN MORE: www.houseof

Helping Hunters Help the Hungry

Square Stitcher: Tracy Petrekovich, Hoop & Stitch Embroidery, Cortland, OH

“With my quilt square, I’m promoting Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. I hope my square will help open the door for others to contribute to this Christian ministry, which uses a renewable God-given resource to help feed those in need. In our home, hunting is a family affair. And since FHFH provides such a magnificent service (giving venison to hungry people), it only seems proper to support this wonderful organization. I feel the true meaning of community stems from doing for others to create a better whole.

“As for making the square, it always feels amazing to have creative freedom when working on a project. I wanted to make sure FHFH was dominantly represented because it is, after all, the star to me. I also wanted it to be beautiful. To achieve that, I knew I had to use embroidery a decorating method I love – to embellish my square. I sketched a rough draft out on paper, and then chose the fabrics I wanted to use. The FHFH logo has a beautiful sunset color scheme, so I decided to follow with that motif. The images on my square are a silhouette against a lovely, colorful quilted sunset. The sunset is often the last thing hunters see before heading in for the night to be with their families, so I find it highly appropriate. After the fabrics were stitched, I used my embroidery machine to add the decorations.

“Next, I am working hard on creating apparel and accessories for FHFH. Branding the organization’s logo on wearables is a great way to get the word out about the ministry. That is why my husband and I chose to donate these particular items to FHFH. We both strongly believe in the ministry and will continue to support it in whatever way we can. Hopefully we can spread some of our enthusiasm about FHFH.”


Tracy Petrekovich’s process for creating her quilt square was quite different from her other embroidery projects. The majority of those require intensive focus on embroidery embellishments; the creativity crux on the quilt square, however, centered on fabric selection.

With this design, the fill-stitched deer and landscape elements almost take a backseat to the collage of bright-patterned fabrics that make up the sunset. Yet, the embroidered silhouettes of the deer and forest are crafted with a fine attention to detail, clearly displaying Petrekovich’s love of embroidery. The running stitches patching together the backdrop lend a subtle abstract flair to the piece. The design freedom for this project allowed Petrekovich to use her full artistic ability to represent her favorite organization.


Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry is an organization that’s dedicated to providing food for the less fortunate in many different areas of the country. The nonprofit accomplishes this by gathering, processing, freezing and packaging discarded big game meat and delivering it to food banks free of charge.

The nutritious, low-fat meat is discarded as a result of limitations put on hunters who might hunt in excess during the season. FHFH works with countless organizations church pantries, church feeding ministries, the Salvation Army and emergency assistance programs to ensure that this meat is received by impoverished communities. The processing and packaging costs are covered by donations from folks across the country. FHFH generates annual revenue of slightly over $810,000.

Matthew Wilson, director of programming and development for FHFH, is thrilled that the ministry is being included in the quilt project. “I think it’s a wonderful idea to design a quilt that features different charities and organizations,” he says. “We’re honored that Tracy Petrekovich thought of us.” LEARN MORE:

Stopping Violence

Square Stitchers: Michael and Nancy Krupar, Wellington Thread Works, Wellington, OH

“With this quilt square, I’d like to help carry the message of our local Genesis House in Lorain County, OH, which helps victims of domestic abuse. I was drawn toward this cause because, as a former teacher, I had a problem in some of my classes with guys bullying guys and abusive dating. I’ve since retired, but I still remember a brave young woman named Johanna Orozco giving a presentation about being sexually assaulted and shot by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Johanna shared her compelling story with our youth in hopes that they will not become statistics like 33 women have in Lorain County.

“As for Genesis House, the organization’s ‘Silent Witness’ program is pursuing a path that’s designed to make people aware of the potential danger of everyday taunting, which can blossom into violence, domestic abuse and eventually death. By putting together this quilt, we can reach hundreds of people and at least encourage them to think about this serious issue.” – Michael Krupar

Michael and Nancy Krupar of Wellington Thread Works crafted this square with Genesis House of Lorain County, OH, in mind. Says Michael: “By putting together this quilt, I believe we can reach hundreds of people and at least encourage them to think about this serious issue” of domestic violence.


The Krupars filled their quilt block with symbolic significance. The 24 circles represent the 24 years that the Silent Witness exhibit has been in existence at Genesis House in Lorain County, OH. The exhibit features 33 stand-up cardboard silhouettes, each with a plaque dedicated to a woman in the county who was killed by domestic violence. These women are commemorated in the quilt block by the red hearts within the circles. They were crafted using a smooth fill with a metallic satin stitch around each.

Decorating the center of the square, the Genesis House logo was digitized and sewn with a smooth fill. The gold accents throughout the piece represent the generosity and love of each volunteer in the organization. These were sewn using a puff technique and a satin stitch over a 3mm-thick foam, which adds depth to emphasize the importance of the volunteers. Additionally, the color purple is known as a representation of domestic violence. The white ribbons are for violence against women. Poignantly, the wording around the circumference of the design is the phases of the Silent Witness Model for Eliminating Domestic Violence Murders by the year 2020.


The Genesis House in Lorain, OH, provides temporary shelter, food and support to women and children attempting to escape domestic abuse. During their stay at the shelter, inhabitants may receive assistance such as crisis counseling, domestic abuse information, support groups and childcare. Through fundraisers, newsletters and community outreach, the center strives to raise public awareness about domestic violence. Genesis House Domestic Violence Shelter raises $700,000 per year.

Michael and Nancy Krupar met with the executive director of the Genesis House, Virginia Beckman, to share their quilt design and explain their passion for the cause. “The fine people of Wellington Thread Works put together the most meaningful, beautiful images for the square,” Beckman says.

LEARN MORE: www.genesishouse

Faith Food

Square Stitcher: Naomi Spivak, Matan Embroidery, Ann Arbor, MI

“I run a small, home-based embroidery business and rely almost entirely on local business. Understanding and appreciating the need for local support, I have a special interest in local causes. That’s why my quilt square pays tribute to the Back Door Food Pantry, which is a local food gathering and distribution center for the needy.

“The pantry is entirely staffed by volunteers. I’ve been volunteering there for almost a year now. What I like about the program is that it is grassroots and it’s a collaborative effort by three faith-based organizations – a church, a synagogue (of which I am a member), and the local Muslim Social Services.

“Ann Arbor, MI, is a fairly well-off, highly-educated community. And yet, it’s naïve to think we don’t have hungry, unemployed and underemployed people here. The pantry serves close to 100 individuals and families weekly. There are other food pantries and soup kitchens in the area, but we’re one of the only groups that don’t require individuals to provide proof of need in order to receive food from us. We hold the belief that people don’t take advantage of us. It’s unpleasant enough to have to stand on line for a basic necessity, so we don’t feel it’s necessary to humiliate people by asking them to fill out a lot of paperwork.

“It felt very satisfying to work on this project. After receiving such positive feedback from other volunteers, I plan to create another square to frame and place in the pantry. The thought of solving the problem of world hunger can seem overwhelming, but step by step, working at the local level, we can work toward feeding everyone.”


Naomi Spivak’s approach to creating the quilt square was to faithfully represent the Back Door Food Pantry’s logo. She began by taking a picture of the logo and digitizing it with her Wilcom International DecoStudio software. Next, Spivak created the 33,000-stitch design on her Barudan Elite Pro machine.

The colors in the design stay within the general scheme of the pantry’s logo, with minor enhancements to make the colors more vibrant. The fonts used to display the charity’s name and the religious organizations that support it are the same. Spivak got a bit creative with the groceries in the bag next to the door, as she chose items that would be easier for appliqué. A fan of appliqué who’s been embroidering for more than a decade, Spivak worked on the square off and on between different jobs. She estimates that it took 15 to 20 hours to finish.


Founded by four local women who wished to reduce hunger locally, the Back Door Food Pantry of Ann Arbor, MI, provides nutritious food and other basic necessities to people in need. Demand for provisions has significantly increased since the charity opened in 2007: Currently, about 300 people are served per week. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the charity is a nonprofit and seeks only to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Back Door Food Pantry raises approximately $40,000 per year. “The Back Door Food Pantry is a multi-faith group of caring hands reaching out to help others,” says Co-Chair Kathy Daly. “We’re thrilled to be represented in this quilt created by talented hands which will include our story for all to see.” LEARN MORE:

65 Roses

Square Stitcher: Sadia Andrews, Sadia’s Designs, MD

Marty Tranes could sense that his mother was worried about him. The kind-hearted 7-year-old, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, sought to put her at ease. “Don’t worry, Mom,” Marty said. “65 Roses won’t hurt me.”

In a cracking voice, Marty’s grandmother, Diana Greer, recounts this moving anecdote. “65 Roses,” Greer says, “is what a lot of children with Cystic Fibrosis call the disease. It’s easier for them to pronounce.” When embroidery artist Sadia Andrews learned the significance of 65 Roses to the CF community, she knew the theme had to be part of the square that she stitched on behalf of Greer and her grandson for The Stitches Hopeful Hearts Quilt. “The light bulb just went on,” says Andrews, who used CF’s symbolic color, purple, and red – an empowering color – in the design. “It’s a powerful message.”

A chronic genetic disease without a cure, Cystic Fibrosis attacks the lungs and other organs, causing breathing problems. While it’s impossible to predict how long an individual with CF will live, the estimated median age of survival is in the mid-30s, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Loving grandmother that she is, Greer is doing her part to raise money for CF research in the hopes that doing so will help lead to better treatment and, ultimately, a cure. She is involved in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and participates in “The Great Strides Walk” a fundraiser – as part of a group called “Marty’s MegaFans.”

A respiratory therapist by trade, Greer is an avid fan of quilting and a quilt collector. While she admits she didn’t have the time or stitching skills to create her own square, Greer was excited to serve as the inspiration behind Andrews’ design. For her part, Andrews was thrilled to lend her needle expertise to such a worthy cause. “It’s a fabulous way to bring awareness,” she says. “I hope others will see it and want to do something similar.” – Christopher Ruvo


Digitized in two sections and stitched on a Brother PR-1000, Sadia Andrews’ 65 Roses square uses a variety of stitches. The buds are all long and short satin stitches, while the large rose has several types: satin and manuallycreated long and short stitches for the petals.The leaves are created in the same manner. The ribbon is satin stitches, and the writing and the background filler are manually-created running stitches. Meanwhile, the tiny, raised dots are again manually-punched long stitches. Andrews used polyester 40 wt. Threads for most of the embroidery, as well as metallic thread for some of the shaded writing and raised dots.

The colors in the design have symbolic significance. The red in the rose and buds represents courage, strength and willpower, while purple, the color of Cystic Fibrosis, is prominently featured. The entire process took Andrews almost two weeks, and concluded with a beautiful and sentimental piece.


Based in Bethesda, MD, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a nonprofit that works tirelessly toward the discovery of a cure for the disease, while supporting those who have been afflicted with CF. With the foundation’s help, scientists in 1989 discovered the defective gene that’s the root of Cystic Fibrosis – a phenomenal breakthrough in the cause’s quest for a cure. Since the foundation’s establishment in 1955, great progress has been made in lengthening and making more comfortable the lives of Cystic Fibrosis sufferers. In 2012, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation raised more than $27.8 million.

“We’re so glad that we’re partnering with an organization that is obviously committed and dedicated to their passion,” said Ann Krulevitz, associate executive director of the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “It’s wonderful that we can bring together their passion for quilting and our passion, which is adding tomorrows.” LEARN MORE:

Every Child Matters

Square Stitchers: Angie Crook and Geri Schwarz, Cotton & Clover, Fort Smith, AR

“Angie Crook and I are professional quilters, but more importantly, we’re mothers. We believe our children and those in the community are our most important assets. We support the Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter in Forth Smith, AR, because it is the city’s only provider of shelter and care for homeless boys and girls, ages 6 to 17. Each time we sell a pillowcase in our store, we donate one to the shelter, which uses them as gifts on special occasions.

“For many of these children who have nothing to call their own, something as simple as a pillowcase can contribute to their sense of self. We’re blessed to play a small part in it.

“The design process for the quilt square was simple. We chose mini pillowcases to represent our commitment to the children in our area. We hope others will see it and remember that each and every child is a person to be cherished.” – Geri Schwarz AMID THE STITCHES

In honor of their local children’s charity, Angie Crook and Geri Schwarz created a block that features small, softly colored pillowcases attached by a handstitched seam that’s meant to be a clothesline carried in the mouth of a small bird. Crook and Schwarz drew a rough draft of the design before starting the actual project. Each pillowcase was appliquéd individually, and features its own unique cloth pattern. The delicate yellow, pink, white and blue hues evoke the innocence and purity of childhood. The heart signifies love and adoration for children who have been robbed of the enjoyable years of youth with a caring and functional family. The square suggests the sense of hope and comfort that can be found in the shelter’s safe environment.


Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter has been a safe haven for children in need of shelter and care since its founding in 1977. While their circumstances vary, the children served are in great need of housing and safe guidance when they come in. Many are victims of abuse and neglect and have nowhere else to go. The shelter aims to bring as much normalcy to the children it serves as possible. Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter raises $225,000 annually to supplement its government funding.

Jack Moffett, executive director of the shelter, says: “The shelter is dependent upon community support. We’re delighted that a Stitches reader from within our community has chosen to include our organization in this quilt project. An initiative this far-reaching will not only create exposure for us at the local level, but it’ll create awareness and support for abused and neglected children everywhere.” LEARN MORE:

Q&A: Quilter-in-Chief

Embroiderer Geri Finio combines the hands and eyes of a gifted artist with a compassionate and caring heart. Given these attributes, the life-long stitcher with a passion for quilting was a natural choice to weave the different charity blocks into a single quilt. This was far from the first quilt Finio created with a deeper meaning in mind. The owner of Studio 187, a custom embroidery studio in Anne Arundel County, MD, has previously worked on quilt projects like “The Silenced Voices of the Inner Child” a quilt she designed, pieced, sewed and machine-embroidered to raise awareness about adult survivors of childhood abuse. Playfully given the title of “Quilter-in-Chief,” Finio here offers insights into her work on The Stitches Hopeful Hearts Quilt.

Stitches: What was the most challenging aspect of putting this quilt together?

Geri Finio: The challenge was to bring everything together in a color theme that wouldn’t compete with individual blocks. I had to look at it for about a week on my design wall – rearranging blocks until I came up with a design idea that flowed. For this quilt, I chose a neutral but colorful hand-dyed Batik for the sashing. Then I framed using a punch of color designed in black and white rose blocks. The color scheme is busy, but it works. When creating charity quilts, I never know what the blocks will look like when they arrive in my studio. When blocks are created by many contributors, part of the creative process is to allow the final outcome to be determined by the blocks themselves. My role is to find the balance.

Stitches: What was compelling about working on the quilt?

GF: It’s an emotional process to learn about each cause from the meaningful perspective of the block contributors. Educating myself on each cause and realizing the impact and responsibility each charity has for so many affected people is eye-opening. I’m merely the facilitator for their very important messages. Using textiles and quilting as my medium, I give their messages a voice that hopefully educates and raises awareness.

Stitches: What kind of personal fulfillment do you get from working on cause-driven quilt projects like this?

GF: The most powerful moments come at the unveiling when I see individual reactions. I’m rewarded and surprised when something I’ve created touches others in a meaningful way. I am humbled by the heartfelt and often teary comments of gratitude. I’ve witnessed adult women and men who’ve been moved to the point of tears. Seeing that I was able to touch somebody’s heart and offer recognition for a significant part of their human experience matters most to me.

Stitches: Is there anything else you hope the Stitches quilt can help accomplish?

GF: I’d like to show that quilting is not stereotypical quilting bees or old-fashioned, nor are quilts just for beds. People of every age and gender quilt. I especially love the youthful playfulness that teens bring to quilting. Quilting has an interesting history, and it’s time well spent to read about it and learn the impact it had within many cultures throughout history. The integrity of embroidery, sewing and quilting go together so well that, for me, it’s almost impossible to separae them.

CHRISTOPHER RUVO is a staff writer for Stitches. GRACE BENNETT and SAMANTHA PHILLIPS are editorial interns for Stitches.


Some of the Quilting For A Cause stitchers put together videos about their squares and causes. Check out the teasers below and watch the videos online at


Tracy Petrekovich shares the story of the beginning of the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry ministry. She also documents her process of creating her square.


Michael and Nancy Krupar document the 100 hours they spent crafting their quilt square, which is dedicated to the Genesis House Domestic Violence Shelter.


Gail Gilmore and Donna Fenstermacher stitch their quilt square in memory of loved ones they lost to Alzheimer’s disease


Loronda Schuler explains how teaching embroidery to troubled teenage girls helped them to find hope and guidance.


Naomi Spivak tours the Back Door Food Pantry, where thousands of hungry citizens are fed by generous food donations. She explains her work at the pantry and how it was translated onto her quilt square.