Our small contribution…..

……to the One Million Pillowcases Challenge!

When I heard about an opportunity to donate 5 pillowcases to the One Million Pillowcase Challenge through the local quilt guild, something made me decide to enlist my family to help. Over dinner one night last week, I pitched the idea to Kent and the boys, and right away, they decided to jump on board with the idea and we pledged to make and donate 20 pillowcases. 

With the March 12th deadline looming, (and Kent out of town on business…) I decided it was time to get started last Saturday. Even though the boys had enthusiastically pledged their efforts to actually work on the pillowcases, the honest truth was — they were, shall I say, “not-quite-so-enthusiastic” when I asked them to actually join me in choosing fabrics from my stash to make the pillowcases. Ok, if I’m really honest with you, the truth is, like normal 11 and 15 year old boys, they procrastinated and dragged their feet. They remembered twenty other things they must do — right then. They stalled. They found all sorts of other distractions. So I began pulling potential fabrics by myself and waited for them to join me in the room upstairs where I keep my stash. I called down (several times) and told them to come up. An hour later, I went and got them from the “really important things they were doing” (think: Legos) and reminded them of their commitment to the project.

The first thing we did was choose fabrics from my stash. We picked out fun, funky, vibrant, cheerful fabrics with contrasting prints for the pillowcase bands. As the boys sorted through and found prints with frogs, lizards, handprints and footprints, it became a bit more interesting to them and they began to get into the spirit of the task.

I took this time as a teaching opportunity to show them how to use a hot iron properly. I admit, at first, they thought this was B – O – R – I – N – G. But other than a minor little boo boo on the back of Andrew’s hand (which reinforced my safety lessons on how NOT to handle a hot iron) the boys hung in there and did an awesome job of pressing the creases out of the fabric.

Andrew was very methodical and precise.

Josh did really well, too, but had more fun clowning around.

I did the rotary cutting while the boys pressed the fabric.

Our Quality Control Manager, Tuffy, did his part to, …um,… “help.” I use that term loosely.

It took us several hours, but the boys and I managed to get 20 pillowcases and coordinating pillowcase bands cut and ready to be stitched. What a great feeling!

The fun really began the next day after church. Josh and Andrew were actually getting into the spirit of the whole project. Seriously — my two boys were excited to get to the sewing machines and actually sew!

So we carried our stack of freshly pressed fabrics to the sewing room, and I showed them how to pin.

I did the rotary cutting; the boys helped me pin, and they did ALL the sewing.
Yes,… really!

I started out with a realistic goal for us to actually sew 5 pillowcases.
They had worked hard doing the ironing, pinning and stitching.
I thought to myself that if we could get to 5, we’d be doing great for the day.

The afternoon turned into evening. The sun went down.
5 pillowcases were finished, and they just kept going.
I offered to stop and let them play or watch a DVD before bed. Nope.
Not only no, but o’heck-no!  They both wanted to keep stitching!

Josh especially loves this pillowcase. He hopes the recipient will love it as much as he does!

By the end of the evening, they had sewn 11 pillowcases! Look at the stack of folded pillowcases, and look at those happy faces!

The funny thing is, every evening this week after homework was done, chores were finished, the piano had been practiced, etc., they ASKED to sew more pillowcases. Can you believe it? And do you want to know something else that’s really neat? We’ve had the BEST TIME EVER! Just being together. Talking, laughing, sharing. With each other. My boys and me. You know, we began this community service project to bless others who are in crisis or need something to brighten their spirits. But I can honestly say this has blessed US. Really and truly. How great is that?

Total to date:  17 pillowcases completed.  5 more pillowcases cut and pinned. 10 more pillowcases ready to be cut, pinned and sewn.

Good deed done.
Great lesson in giving of one’s time and talents.
Amazing my boys now know how to sew a French seam.
Memories?  Priceless!

Who knows when we’ll stop or how many pillowcases we’ll make? Let the good stuff just keep on coming, I say. Blessings abound! 

  1. Your small contribution? Not small at all!!! I made one pillowcase last weekend…

    • I really credit the boys and their enthusiasm for this — once they got started. It was like pulling teeth to get them started, though! But now they are going to town!!!

      And did I mention? It is a GREAT way for me to do some much-needed stash busting! Although I am finding it hard to pick out large pieces. I am amazed at how many pieces of fabric I have in my stash that are LESS than one yard!

    • One is better than none….. 😉

  2. awwww I LOVE my neighbors!!!!

  3. Those are to special young men you have…

  4. I am envious! that you have boys who are of the age to do this. Mine are young adults and live 2 states away and my grandsons are both under 2… Enjoy your time and take pleasure that you have taught them a skill they can use the rest of their life, sewing. Boy’s do sew… So what !!!! and the memories they have are also there for life. Lucky you!!!

    • Kimland – You’re so sweet to have left a comment. Thanks so much — and I agree with you! I’m not only lucky, but oh-so blessed! 🙂

  5. What fun. I can’t get my daughter to even look at my machines. While making a baby quilt for a neighbor, she did a few seams back in Germany but quickly got bored. I have heard a few people talking about making pillowcases locally but haven’t seen any action on it.
    I will be starting a new quilt as soon as I finish my Chain Saw. The new quilt will be given to the Combat Veteran’s Motorcycle Assoc. for a raffle. The money they make will be given to a young woman who is making care packages for our deployed troops. I am hoping I can get my DH to help a bit and maybe Misha will too. I taught Mike how to sew his CVMA patches onto his leather motorcycle vest. Told him when he retired, that after 26 years as a military spouse I had no desire to sew another patch on a uniform or any other item.
    Have fun with the boys. They have created some great looking pillowcases and life long memories.

    • Hi, Jan! Don’t give up — the sewing bug will bite Misha when you least expect it, and then you’ll be ready to go with a thousand ideas for projects sure to interest her! 🙂

      Hey — you were so right about the few little “issues” with the Chain Saw pattern. My editor and I have reworked the issues and will be putting out an “errata” page early next week. I’ll blog about it here, and there will be links on both my website and the AQS website to print the page with the corrections. So sorry that those little errors slipped by so many sets of proof reading eyes!

      You are so generous to be making a raffle quilt. Can’t wait to see it. And put me down, I’ll buy a ticket! 😉

  6. Kimberly, have you ever made a burrito pillowcase? I saw this at a live demo a couple years ago and it was a cool way of doing the contrast edge on a pillowcase and having it enclosed in one step. Then, just seam the edges and you are done.

    • Jan — actually, the burrito method is what we’re doing! We make a “tube” and pin the cuff around the body of the quilt. At first, it seems kind of awkward. But when you stitch the seam and then turn it right sides out, you get a perfectly closed seam! After we stitch the pillowcase body seam, I use a pinky blade to trim the seam close to the stitching and then have the boys stitch an actual French seam. All raw edges are hidden, and everything is closed – nice and neat!

  7. I decided to go through my stash to look for more potential pillowcase fabric. Turns out I have a lot of fabric I no longer need/want, especially big & fun kids prints, which are perfect for the pillowcases.

    I just checked the above mentioned website for a deadline… the challenge continues through 2010. That gives me lots of time for more ‘stash busting’ (and more fabric shopping later). Why do you have a deadline of March 12th?
    A quilt shop here hands out buttons, ‘one in a million, two in a million,’ and so forth for donated pillowcases. Not that I need a button, but they’re cute!

    Tell Andrew and Josh that they rock!

    • Ilona — First of all, good for you that you’ve “lightened” your stash by choosing fabrics for more pillowcases! It’s like doing a bit of spring cleaning….

      Sorry to have been misleading about the March 12th deadline. You are right — the challenge goes on through 2010. The March 12th deadline is the date of our next guild meeting. The lady who is coordinating the project for our local guild will be picking up pillowcases at the March 12th meeting to taek to the ConKerr Cancer Center here in Florida. So, I thought it was better for me to use a “short term” deadline which would make me get busy and start DOING instead of PLANNING TO DO! 🙂

      I’ll be sure to pass on the encouraging words to the boys — they love it when I feature them on the blog, so they’ll be extra excited to know that “readers” are leaving them messages.

  8. I made 11 pillowcases today! It barely made a dent in my stash…

    • Ilona — You ROCK! Way to go — I’m so proud of you for making so many!!! Take a photo and send them to me — I’ll blog about it! 🙂

  9. Kimberly, I know that you are always proud of your boys, but this had to give them even more Mom Points in your heart. And what a great way to get them sewing, and what a marvelous way to make a difference. You and Kent have raised (are raising) you children well — loving, giving, caring. What a joy and what a blessing!

    Someone at our quilting retreat this weekend was making pillowcases using the burrito method & it was so cool. From a snakey tube to a full-blown pillowcase — seemed like magic, especially when she pulled this wild and crazy pillowcase out of what looked like a goofy tube. I will go through my stash and start pulling stuff. I think I even have some nice flannels.

    GREAT post!

    • Pat — THANKS a million (all pun intended!) for your super-supportive comments about what the boys and I have been working on. Even yesterday, after Andrew finished his homework, he came into my studio and without even asking…..he picked up another pre-pinned “tube” and started stitching. He finished 8 cuffs on his own yesterday. Now the rest of the pillowcases are pinned and ready to be French seamed. He really has enjoyed himself. Last night, at Boy Scouts, they worked on their “sewing” badges. Andrew piped right up and proudly told the other scouts how many pillowcases he has sewn — and they all applauded! He was one proud boy….

  10. Kimberly, I stumbled on your blog and loved reading about your boys’ Great Pillowcase Adventure.
    Sounds as if things are going quite well for you and your family. best wishes, mjtm

    • Hi, Melissa! So great to hear from you — and so glad you found me through the blog. What are you up to these days?

  11. I made 11 pillowcases today! It barely made a dent in my stash…

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