National Sew Day observance aims to make quilts for veterans

PREPPING MATERIAL: Mary Picucci, director of the local Quilts of Valor chapter, cuts material for quilt blocks in the kitchen at the Old Jail. The material will be assembled into quilt blocks on Saturday, Feb. 6, as part of National Sew Day, when chapters across the country attempt to sew as many quilt tops as possible. Quilts of Valor gives quilts to veterans to thank them for their service. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

PREPPING MATERIAL: Mary Picucci, director of the local Quilts of Valor chapter, cuts material for quilt blocks in the kitchen at the Old Jail. The material will be assembled into quilt blocks on Saturday, Feb. 6, as part of National Sew Day, when chapters across the country attempt to sew as many quilt tops as possible. Quilts of Valor gives quilts to veterans to thank them for their service. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — One stitch at a time, area residents will have the opportunity to show their gratitude to the men and women who are serving or have served in the military.

National Sew Day, a nationwide effort by the Quilts of Valor Foundation to spend a day sewing quilt tops to give to veterans, is set for Saturday, Feb. 6. The local Quilts of Valor chapter will observe the day with a sewing bee from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Old Jail, 220 S. Stewart Ave.

“Everyone is welcome to come,” said Mary Picucci, director of the local chapter. “You don’t need to have a sewing machine.”

Quilts of Valor, a national organization founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, aims to provide service members and veterans with quilts in an effort to provide some comfort. The quilts are distributed both overseas at military bases and stateside at military hospitals or through private presentations to individuals. The local chapter began in October 2014.

For the second local observance, club members have made adjustments based on what they learned last year. The goal of the day is to sew as many quilt tops as possible and organizers think participants can complete three tops this year.

Last year, they asked each participant to sew an entire quilt top, which some people found overwhelming, Picucci said. This year, organizers are taking a teamwork approach.

“This year, we’re going to collectively make the same quilt top until one is finished so we end up with more tops done,” Picucci said.

In addition to the new work flow plan, chapter members will present workshops throughout the day for novice quilters. Basics of quilting will be discussed at 10 a.m., block construction at 11 a.m., hand-quilting at 1 p.m. and how to finish a quilt at 3 p.m.

It’s not only individuals who know how to sew who are needed, however.

“We need people to cut, trim and press material and carry things back and forth,” Picucci said.

“People with all levels of experience, even those who have never quilted before, are welcome,” added chapter member Phyllis Jacobs.

Participants will have lunch and dinner provided for them. People also are welcome to stop by for whatever time they have available. Throughout the day, door prizes will be awarded and refreshments will be available. Volunteers who want to help but can’t attend on Feb. 6 will be able to cut material for quilt blocks in advance, organizers noted.

If interested participants register in advance at qovf.org, they will be eligible to win national drawing prizes as well.

“Some of the national prizes were pretty cool last year,” said group member Pat LeVasseur. “They even gave away sewing machines.”

For more information about National Sew Day, how to participate in advance, or to nominate a veteran to receive a quilt, email oldjailquilters@yahoo.com or call Picucci at (810) 278-0149.

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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