Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Recycled Quilts

I volunteer at one of the local thrift stores on Friday mornings. There are several thrift stores in the area, but the one I really like is the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program (or just MCEAP) Thrift Store. We're all volunteers there and no one gets a wage, regardless of how many hours you work there. All profits other than the store's overhead go straight into the funds for MCEAP programs that directly benefit the residents of Montgomery County.

You may ask yourself how you benefit from the services of a food bank, a clothing bank, and emergency financial assistance when you've never used those benefits yourself. Personally, I think we all benefit when our neighbors can maintain their households and restore their self sufficiency after a crisis. If you're local to my area, please visit the MCEAP website for more information about their programs, especially if you'd like to donate items or volunteer with them.

In addition to knowing I'm helping my community, I also enjoy working with the other volunteers at the thrift store. Most of them are active (and I mean very active) retirees, a friendly bunch of folks who like to talk and laugh. Our topics of conversation cover local history, religion, fashion, and who brought in the best dessert that week. It's never boring.

I work in the back room, sorting donations and putting goods out. The store sells gently used clothing, household items, books, toys, and some furniture. I won't deny that sorting bag after bag of someone else's clothes can get monotonous, especially if I have my own laundry waiting to be sorted at home. But the company is fun and you never know what you might find. I've gotten some fantastic clothes and toys for my daughter and I've stockpiled lots of clothes to be repurposed as quilt fodder, all for extremely reasonable prices.

In fact, my latest quilt top is made of squares of linen and linen-blend fabric taken from used clothes. The batting will be a used flannel sheet, and the backing will be a used cotton sheet. The only thing I purchased new for this quilt is the thread, and I have no doubt that sooner or later I'll find some of that at the MCEAP Thrift Store as well.


I've debated seeing how many quilts I could make over a year using just material repurposed from clothing and bedding bought from the MCEAP Thrift Store. I have no doubt that this would be a fun and achievable goal, but 1) I buy clothing to use as material from several thrift stores and no longer remember where each piece came from originally and 2) I'd be pretty cranky about not letting myself buy fabric from a fabric store when the mood hits me or I can't find enough yardage to make a quilt back. Instead I'm going to continue to use as much repurposed clothing as I can and pat myself on the back whenever I do make one of these recycled quilts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What's New River Quilt Works about?

I remember my maternal grandmother quilting and my paternal grandmother still quilts, but I'm not exactly sure what compelled me to make my first quilt in 2010. Now I'm somewhat obsessed with fabrics and patterns and can't seem to stop making more of them. I'm largely self-taught and while I may not make any quilts with a pattern that my grandmothers would recognize, I've come to realize that most older quilters are thrilled that younger generations are taking up quilting again.

Appalachian quilters often reused fabric from old clothes in their quilts when new material wasn't available or was too costly. I also prefer to use fabrics repurposed from old clothing and linens in my quilts. I suppose this makes me an environmentally friendly artisan, but really I'm just doing what generations of quilters have done before me. I also craft with felted wool from old sweaters and coats, and I use buttons and trim from old clothes to decorate my work. For these reasons all of my pieces are one-of-a-kind, upcycled items.

New River Quilts and Wool Works is the name I've given my blog showcasing some of my projects. Currently I sell my items at several local craft shows around the New River Valley and in an antique mall in Williamsburg, Virginia. I also plan to open a store online at in the near future.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome to New River Quilt Works!

Hi y'all!

I decided to start a second blog dedicated to my quilts, wool items, and what not. That way anyone interested in my work doesn't have to wade through all the pictures of my daughter, what my dog has been doing lately, and random recipes that I post on my other blog, Tree Dellinger. (But feel free to poke around over there if you're interested.)