Thanks for a Reality Check!I hope no one minds if I (a newbie) chime in on this with a very firm opinion. A little background on me so you know where I am coming from. I was raised in an affluent family. I went to college, then grad school for psych - worked with all kinds of psych populations (all ages, from 1.5 (autism) on up). Then I went to law school - worked crimininal defense (juvenile and adult). Then I got sick and could no longer work. I moved cross country for health insurance reasons. Without going into too much detail, I wound up homeless for a time. You sleep where you can - find food where you can... I was fortunate to move through the waiting list and now live in disabled housing. I began quilting in a free class offered at a local "women's sanctuary" for low income and homeless women. I am forever greatful for the opportunity to be involved in their art program - it is truly amazing what they do.
With that as a background, here are my thoughts on this topic: No one should be using fabrics that are of such poor quality that they will not stand up to use. I am not really familiar with different fabric types, but the fabrics used should "work" for the purpose for which they are intended. In my newbie opinion, I would keep like fabrics with like fabrics. Similarly, the quality of the workmanship and construction should stand up to use. Otherwise, what is the point?
Other than that, your charitable quilting decisions, IMHO should ENTIRELY be based on the intended recipients of those works. Sorry, but there ARE ugly babies and there ARE ugly quilts. (I am not a horrible person - really I am not!)
I am not going to address the issue of quilts going overseas, as I have no idea what the intended uses are. I will, however, address a few other charitable groups.
Quilts for the homeless - well, what kind of homeless?
- Individuals who chose to stay outside rather than to stay at a shelter (or who can not get into a shelter) need to be warm and dry. Quilts for these people need to help keep them warm and dry. THEY DO NOT NEED PRETTY!!! As others have said, pretty is likely to be stolen. Or sold for drugs or alcohol. Or given away in exchange for a sandwich. etc. Darker colors are better, as these quilts will often be in the dirt. These quilts must be big enough to keep a person warm, yet compact enough to be carried around ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. If I were making such a quilt and I had the tallent, I would quilt an inspirational message or words of hope into the quilt (remember not all people are religious, and not all religious people are christian). Maybe something like "Just know that there are people out here thinking of you today and every day and wishing you well". Think function, function, function, with a little love.
- Individuals who choose to stay in shelters are rarely given quilts to keep. Rather, the quilts stay with the "beds".
Donating quilts to shelters: There are two kinds of shelters, "wet" and "dry".
In a wet shelter, people are allowed to stay even if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These shelters generally screen people as the arrive (think airport security), but drugs are so easy to smuggle in and are rampant. The sleeping areas are typically large rooms consisting of row after row of metal framed bunk beds (think prison). These shelters typically supply guests with army blankets, if there are enough. Each time you stay at a given shelter, you are assigned a different bunk. Blankets are fought over and treated roughly. No one is looking at their blanket day after day laid out on their bed thinking "oh, how pretty". I don't know if these types of shelters even take donations of quilts. If donating to such a shelter, however, again think of how these quilts are going to be used. Think function. DO NOT MAKE THEM PRETTY!!! They WILL be stolen and sold very cheaply. Again, darker colors are best as the blankets in these shelters rarely get washed. Again, an inspirational message could rarely hurt.
In a dry shelter, guests must remain sober throughout the course of their stay. They are drug tested. These shelters usually accept guests for a longer period of time. Rooms typically have 2-6 beds and there are rarely bunk beds. Guests at these shelters are assigned a bed for the duration of their stay. They can leave whatever belongings they feel comfortable leaving in their bed space while they are out during the day. It is hard to get into these types of shelters. Guests are usually weary from the difficulties of homelessness and in much need of a comforting rest. I can tell you from experience, there is something very comforting about being given something lovely to put on "your" bed. PRETTY COUNTS HERE!!! I am planning on making quilts for this type of shelter (once I learn how). These quilts do not need to be your best work - seams don't need to match perfectly, you can swerve outside the ditch as much as you want. Colors and patterns don't have to be "show quality". You do not need to use designer fabrics. But, IMHO - you should show a little love and respect. Don't just slap together whatever and think "they should be greatful". Give it a little extra, it will mean so much to the whole string of individuals fortunate enough to spend time in that bed. Also remember, these quilts are going to be washed frequenty, so they need to be sturdy.
- Individuals transitioning into housing. Some organizations accept donations for individuals who are transitioning from homelessness into a place of their own. These individuals have been through a lot. IMHO, these quilts should be your best work. Not necessarily intricate or tedious, but they should be something YOU would be willing to give to someone you loved. Isn't the main point of charitable giving really about sharing love? Share it with these individuals and most of them will cherrish your gift for a long time.
Quilts for disaster relief:
This is a totally different situation once again, they need them now and they need alot. They may not be needed for very long, but they are needed NOW. Churn them out.
Quilts of Valor and Quilts for the gravely ill:
Think about the meaning behind these quilts. Think about what they stand for. I would not make one unless I had the skills, used quality materials, and did my best work. It's all about respect.
Quilts for NICU losses - I have no words. I only hope that one day I have the talent to make a quilt that would be worthy of such a cause.
I know I have left a bunch of groups out. These are just the thoughts that were in my head after reading this thread. One final thought - the actual recipient of the quilt may not be overly concerned about what the quilt looks like if they are impaired, etc., but their loved ones will notice. I guess in those cases, it is a question of quality vs. quantity. I, for one, would hate to visit my grandma and see an ugly quilt in her lap. I would rather see a wally world special. But that is just me.
So, jumping off my newbie soap box now... Let's get back to ugly babies! lol