Friday, July 21, 2017Embroidery's Voice and Vision


The creation of the "Stitches Hopeful Hearts Quilt" involved embroiderers and quilters from across America.

Quilting For A Cause

Quiting For a Cause

× Quilting For A Cause

Embroiderers and quilters from coast-to-coast combined their talents to create The Stitches Hopeful Hearts Quilt, a 12-square quilt that calls attention to important causes and charities, from Alzheimer's awareness to domestic abuse. Click on the image above for a larger view of the quilt.

Impressed by quilting's potential to be a positive force, we at Stitches were 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. 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, many 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.

Starting in August, the "Stitches Hopeful Hearts Quilt" will be traveling around America to be displayed in the shops and homes of the dedicated stitchers who contributed a square. Here, we outline the quilt's route, offering more insight into the people who made each block and their creative process, as well as a closer look at the charities. We'll be posting about the quilt's cross-country trek on our Facebook page, so be sure to stop by for updates. Happy Stitching!

WINDSOR MILL, MD: SADIA ANDREWS (NOTE: Sadia will not be displaying the quilt)

Sadis AndrewsSadia Andrews graduated with a degree in criminal law from the University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Upon retiring, she pursued her dream of being a creative designer. Andrews eventually became a digitizer with a strong appreciation for vintage, hand-stitched looks. Because her roots stem from Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent, much of her work has an eastern flair, but with a modern, western twist. Today, Andrews is the owner of Sadia's Designs, where her love of embroidery flourishes with each unique creation. "Although we sometimes have to dig deeply to find it, there is beauty in everything," Andrews says. Her hope is her designs capture that beauty so it can be remembered and shared with the world.

Sadis Andrews—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: Andrews created this quilt square to bring awareness to Cystic Fibrosis. After doing a bit of online research, she stumbled upon a picture of a single rose with "CF" written on it, and discovered a story that told of how many children mistake the disease's proper name for "Sixty-five roses." Andrews says, "That was my inspiration!"

Digitized in two sections and stitched on a Brother PR-1000, 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 manually-created long and short stitches for the petals. The leaves are created in the same manner. The ribbon is satin stitches, and the writing as well as the background filler is manually-created running stitches. Meanwhile, the tiny raised dots are again manually-punched long stitches. Andrews used polyster 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.

About the Charity: 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 the disease. 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: In 2012, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation raised more than $27.8 million. Check out their Facebook page too.


Sandy MillerSandy Miller lives in the mountains of North Carolina just south of Asheville with her husband and their faithful pets, Daisy and Smoky. She's the owner of a small cottage shop called Sandy's Sweet Embroidery Creations, where she is able to utilize her passion for embroidery by crafting sentimental gifts for her customers. Miller is currently studying to receive a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology to pursue a secondary career in Christian life coaching. She also volunteers at an assisted living facility for the elderly in her spare time; she chose this cause as the theme of one of her quilt squares. Indeed, she has a true passion for helping others, which is why she selected the Brevard Rescue Mission as her second sponsored charity. "The person volunteering gets so much from those who they serve," says Miller. "That is what I have found to be true."

Sandy Miller—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: 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.

In the 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.

About the Charity: 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.

Stacia Glavas, the mission's founder and CEO, feels privileged to have her cause included in the cause quilt. "We are 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: Brevard Rescue Mission last year served 47 residents. Its year-end appeal raised $55,000. Check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter too.


Robin MoutonRobin Mouton, founder of Back Gate Embroidery, has had a strong love for needlework since at least the age of ten, when she would sneak away to spend her hours in the sewing shop across the street. Her passion for the craft is very strong and has guided her throughout her life. "When determining whether or not someone was worth dating, I'd ask myself: 'Do I want to spend an evening with this person, or do I want to stay home and sew?' " she says. Even now, she manages to find some time each day to embroider when she isn't scavenging for sharks' teeth on the beach in Sneads Ferry, NC with her husband of 26 years.

Robin Mouton—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: Mouton was so enthusiastic for the "Quilting For A Cause" project that she created two squares. To make 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 Robin paper-pieced together. The color royal blue is the color of the Special Olympics Onslow County, N.C. 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 Down Syndrome Network of Onslow & Carteret Counties logo in the friendship star to represent the friends that 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, which emphasizes the atmosphere of the SOOC and its athletes. In a circle, there is no top and no bottom; everyone is needed to form the whole.

About the Charity: 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. People ages 8 and up take part in local and state competitions. There is no cost to participants' families. Keith Fishburn, the 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 and potential volunteers. We are honored to be featured and to have a block on the quilt."

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. Driven to ensure that their children receive fulfilling life experiences, members get together to share ideas, stories, and information all while enjoying a positive and fun atmosphere. "We're a growing organization so of course it is wonderful for us to have the publicity," says Jennifer Wiser, president of DSNOCC. "But more importantly, it is truly wonderful for our kids with Down Syndrome to be honored in this way."

Learn More: Down Syndrome Network of Onslow County.

Special Olympics (Onslow County) raised $30,000 last year, which was its goal for the last two years. Check out their Facebook page too.


Geri SchwarzAngie Crook and Geri Schwarz (pictured at left) of Cotton and Clover Dry Goods, a small store specializing in young girls' clothing, are both single moms residing in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Their support for the local emergency shelter for children inspired them to make the square featuring small, colorful pillowcases to represent helping children in need. "We supply the shelter with fun and funky pillowcases to give to the kids on special occasions," says Schwarz. Because both Crook and Schwarz have children of their own to provide for, they are determined to see that their small shop is a huge success. Their love for sewing allows them to create many different crafts, such as quilts and clothes for small children, which have been shipped as far as Africa, London, and Switzerland.

Cotton and Clover—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: In honor of the Fort Smith Children's Emergency Shelter, Crook and Schwarz created a block that features small, softly colored pillowcases attached by a hand-stitched seam that is meant to be a clothesline carried in the mouth of a small bird. Crook and Schwarz first drew a rough draft of the design before commencing the actual project. Each pillowcase was appliquéd individually, and features its own unique cloth pattern. The delicate colors of yellow, pink, white, and blue evoke the innocence and purity of childhood. The heart signifies love and adoration for children that 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.

About the Charity: 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 these kids' lives as possible.

Jack Moffett, executive director of the shelter, says: "The shelter is dependent upon community support. We are delighted that one of your readers 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 will create awareness and support for abused and neglected children everywhere."

Learn More: Fort Smith Children's Emergency Shelter raises $225,000 annually to supplement its government funding. Check out their Facebook page too.


Abbie AndersenAbbie Andersen lives in Gig Harbor, WA, where she tends to her two daughters and a small embroidery shop called Bootstrap Threads. Her store opened in 1997, nearly 16 years ago, and caters to the equestrian industry, embroidering riding wear such as jackets, hats, and helmets. Andersen began embroidering in 1994, and instantly found a strong passion for the craft. Because of her personal experience with witnessing how domestic violence can shatter lives, Andersen felt compelled to contribute in some way. Her square represents the cause for fighting against domestic violence, and she supports it wholeheartedly. "I just hope that this project helps raise awareness of domestic violence and the many families suffering from it," she says. Although embroidery comprises a big part of her life, Andersen enjoys quality time with her family at the beach, as well as extracurricular hobbies like tennis, skiing and traveling.

Abbie Andersen—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: Andersen's quilt square represents the cause related to domestic violence. It displays the purple ribbons associated with DV awareness, and she hopes that it conveys the severity of DV and the toll that it can take on an individual or family, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well. Andersen lovingly began this project and donated apparel to the Crystal Judson Family Support Center of Tacoma, WA, a center that lives in memory of Crystal Judson, a victim that tragically passed away because of domestic violence. The fabric for the block was chosen from a local fabric store, and she used a commercial embroidery machine to make the design. The displayed image of the ribbon was digitized and sewed onto the fabric with regular rayon thread. Because she had been working on many different quilts related to the same cause, Andersen mastered the art of the design and completed the square within an hour.

About the Charity: The Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (FJC) of Tacoma, WA opened in 2005 in memory of Crystal Judson, a long-term domestic violence sufferer who was killed by her husband. The FJC serves DV 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.

FJC Executive Board Chair, Rick Talbert, says: "It is 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 that 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: Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (A Stand Against Abuse) raises around $50,000 per year. Check out their Facebook page and blog too.


Loronda SchulerLoronda Schuler has been sewing, embroidering and digitizing for over 25 years. She is the owner of Heav'n Sent Creations out of Marshall, MN. Her business offers embroidery design sets, most of which are made specifically for quilts. She has also designed quilts herself that feature detailed picturesque scenes. In her spare time, she voluntarily teaches sewing to at-risk teenage girls at the House of Hope Minnesota, which is the organization she chose to highlight with her quilt square. Schuler believes in the nonprofit's mission, which is to transform these troubled teens into strong, independent women. "When they graduate, they have become like beautiful butterflies, equipped for life with wonderful support, coping tools, and faith," she says.

Loronda Schuler—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: When Schuler began the design process for her quilt square, she had one objective in mind: Clearly represent the idea of transformation. This is why she chose the fill-stitched butterfly image that is the central focus of the block. The other design choices came easily once the butterfly was in place.

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, appliqué was used for the inner and outer fabrics. Amongst the satin-stitched lettering, a Bible passage is delivered that Schuler feels defines the message of the non-profit she supports. Romans 5:5 reads, "And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts."

About the Charity: 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.

Claudia Stenson, director of the House of Hope in Minnesota, feels honored that Schuler is spotlighting the organization through her square. "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 out there that are not necessarily court-ordered or social services," Stenson says. "There is help out there for families who don't meet all the criteria for social services programs. This quilt is another way we can get the word out about the work that we do."

Learn More: House of Hope Minnesota raises about $325,000 annually. Check out their Facebook page too.


Naomi SpivakNaomi Spivak owns her own embroidery business in Ann Arbor, MI. She has been embroidering for about 10 years, and has enjoyed every minute of it. Spivak was driven to create the Back Door Food Pantry square by her avid support for local causes. After volunteering at the charity for over a year now, her fondness toward the people and support for the cause have grown. "Although Ann Arbor is a fairly well-off community, it is naïve to think we don't have hungry, unemployed, and underemployed people living among us," she says. When she isn't embroidering and contributing to her community, her time is well-spent with her beloved husband and trusty rescue dog named Pablo.

Naomi Spivak—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: 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 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 has been embroidering for more than a decade now, Spivak worked on the square off and on between different jobs. She estimates that it took 15-20 hours to finish.

About the Charity: 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. Interestingly, the pantry is a collaborative effort by three faith-based organizations - a church, a synagogue, and the local Muslim Social Services.

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. "The Back Door Food Pantry is a multi-faith group of caring hands reaching out to help others," says Co-Chair Kathy Daly. "We are thrilled to be represented in this quilt created by talented hands."

Learn More: Back Door Food Pantry raises approximately $40,000 per year. Check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter too.


Michael and Nancy KruparMichael and Nancy Krupar are the founders of Wellington Thread Works, a business out of Wellington, OH that offers embroidery and laser engraving embellishment services. The business expanded this past June when the old equipment was replaced with the newest embellishment technology. Michael is a certified chef, former law enforcement officer, and retired teacher. Regarding all his life's endeavors, Michael says, "I just have to keep busy." It was Michael's past experience with victims of domestic abuse that motivated the Krupars to choose the Genesis House Domestic Violence Shelter as the cause to support with their quilt square.

Michael and Nancy Krupar—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: 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. The red coloring is meant to symbolize charity, joy and compassion.

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 three-millimeter-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."

About the Charity: 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. A truly active organization, the charity also has a branch called Teen Street Team, which encourages awareness of teen dating violence and educates teenagers about recognizing domestic abuse.

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 Threadworks put together the most meaningful, beautiful images for the square," Beckman says. "It's a beautiful way to memorialize the people who have been victimized in this horrible way."

Learn More: Genesis House Domestic Violence Shelter raises $700,000 per year. Check out their Facebook page too.


Tracy PetrekovichTracy Petrekovich of Cortland, OH is a new entrepreneur with a passion for community service. Her business, Hoop & Stitch Embroidery LLC, was created just last year. What began as a few friends with requests for personal embroidery projects, blossomed into an idea for an actual small business. Petrekovich was motivated to create her business by memories of the flower shop she watched her mother run as a child. She attributes the flower shop's success to her mother's active role in their community and is inspired to follow suit. "I am always amazed at what can be accomplished when the community works together," she says. To continue with her inspired community efforts, Petrekovich decided to raise awareness for Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry with her square.

Tracy Petrekovich—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: Petrekovich's process for creating her quilt square was quite different compared to 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 utilize her full artistic ability to represent her favorite organization.

About the Charity: 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.

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: Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry generates revenue of slightly over $810,000. Check out their Facebook page too.


Gail Gilmore and Donna FenstermacherGail Gilmore and Donna Fenstermacher are business partners who operate A to Z Wear out of Cincinnati, OH. October 15th of this past year marked ten years that the duo has owned the company, which offers embroidery services to local businesses. The team of stitchers decided to choose the Alzheimer's Association as the theme of their square in memory of Fenstermacher's two family members who passed away from the disease. Both Gilmore and Fenstermacher hope that this quilt will be a way to honor their memory and raise awareness for this crippling disease.

Gail Gilmore and Donna Fenstermacher—Quilt SquareEmbroidery Process: Gilmore and 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 the 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, satin-stitched lettering. The lettering is designed to look like it was drawn from calligraphy, giving the piece an elegant appeal. Fill-stitched areas, such as the silhouette head and the inner part of the symbol, add extra decoration to the design.

About the Charity: 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 effecting 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. Dedicated volunteers also devote time to educating legislators about the disease and imperativeness of a finding a cure.

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."

Learn More: 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. Check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter too.

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