About three months ago I came across an email asking for donations for graduating foster teens. It was more than your typical monetary solicitation, this woman was asking for umbrellas & wastebaskets for these teens.
See, when teens age out of the foster system, one day they in the custody of the state, the next they are on their own. They leave with mostly the clothes they are wearing & that’s it folks. They don’t get to go shopping to decorate their new apartment paid for courtesy of their parents, they don’t even get a set a sheets.
In Alexandria however a social worker is trying her hardest to give them a start. She has arranged a graduation ceremony to recognize this huge milestone in their lives & is working with the community to give them a wastebasket of basic items.
I read the initial email & immediately knew I wanted to give them quilts. But truly I had no idea how I would pull it off. Granted it was only seven quilts, so it seemed possible in theory, but Teapot was in between crawling & walking, & I wasn’t getting much sleep.
I knew several women in my mom’s group quilted & I was familiar with the string quilt project Quilts from the Bluffs runs where the blocks can be sewn by many different quilters. I took this idea to the women & to my surprise they were excited & anxious to start!
We sewed & sewed & sewed. Those who didn’t know how to sew contributed by cutting & pressing strips as we sewed. We sewed during nap times, after bedtime, while babies crawled around our legs, together at meetups, alone in our homes. I longarmed all the quilts & then led a class in machine binding for the women.
There are seven graduating foster teens this year, three men & four women. These are the masculine quilts.
It was an empowering project for the moms. We all have babies under two years old & the most surprising realization for me this first year of Teapot’s life is how all your life becomes this child & much of what you used to do is impossible to do anymore. Through all of us working together & supporting each other, we were able to make seven quilts in ten weeks with babies. This was no small feat, but our love for these teens they’ve never met gave us the determination to finish.
In my next post I’ll share pictures of the feminine quilts & also share some data about foster children.
*also thank you to Kathryn Coneway who help me photograph these quilts! I learned a lot about photography from watching her work those two mornings as we documented these quilts!