In August of last year (2009), I asked almost all of my family members and friends for a quarter-yard of new batik fabric (their choice of color and style) and from those fabrics I promised to make a quilt for the Quilts of Valor Foundation. I called it the Batik Challenge. My husband cautioned me to not have high expectations. When I wrote to people asking for contributions, I was clear that I was not keeping track of who gave and who didn't. I truly wanted this to be a gift from the heart. I just figured that if even only 10% of the folks I asked contributed one piece of fabric, I'd have enough to do something with, even if I ended up adding the rest, and that would make a neat story quilt. I asked for batiks mostly because they are pure joy to work with, but as most quilters know, they tend to blend easily with each other.
My husband was the first contributor, naturally. He's pretty good about stuff like that and his masculinity wasn't compromised by going to a quilting shop. And bit by bit, pieces of fabric started showing up in the mail. As each submission would come in, I would "ooh and ahh" over it (or them - sometimes people gave more than one piece) and then add it to the ever-growing stash. When 1 Jan rolled around (the deadline for contributions was 31 December), I couldn't wait to get them all out and start figuring out how to use them. I was stunned by the amount of fabrics to work with. There were so many, in fact, that I was able to group them into two distinct categories and make two quilts. The first one was a bright, tropical one (which was wonderfully cheering in dreary January), for which I used a complex block pattern to really show off the colors and prints. The second quilt was a rich, more sombre-toned one, and I did a sampler block theme in order to use the varying sizes of batik fabric submitted.
Not only did I ask my family and friends for the fabric, but I asked them to name who they were donating in the honor of and where they bought the fabric. It was interesting to print that list off (it was sent with each quilt) and see the giant web of connections that went into making these two quilts.
The generosity and outpouring of love and support for our troops from my family and friends underscored why I am honored to be associated with and part of them.