She is amazing, my friend, Denniele. She set up a wonderful sew day for us in her town of Harrisonville, Missouri, this past Saturday, to make blocks and piece tops for The 70273 Project. And what a day we had!
To best tell you what we did and how it went, I posed some questions to both Denniele (of Louanna Mary Quilt Design) and me. I knew that she, as the organizer, would have different responses than I, a participant. Telling you about the day from both of our viewpoints seems to me a good way to help you plan a day of your own.
1. What did you do to get ready for the day?
Denniele: Emailed everyone I could think of! Reserved the room. Twisted arms to get people to volunteer for sign-in table, kids’ table, and top piecer.
Printed forms, cut blocks, collected supplies, made name tags, emailed more people, posted on Facebook, read about other XX days, bounced some ideas of Jeanne, spoke to local guild, shared project in my classes, emailed yet again, contacted the local paper, made a few blocks. Tried to set procedures in place to make the day run smoothly…the BadAss piecing the tops refused my offer of a template…maybe I went too far!!!
Lori: Very little, if you must know. Denniele did all the work, as you might have figured out. (Denniele was a teacher for years and years, and I suspect she is just naturally one who organizes. I, on the other hand…) She let me know when and where, and I just got out my trusty Featherweight, checked to make sure she was ready to go, filled a couple of bobbins, and pulled the thread colors I knew I needed. I also made some blocks, but then left them at home. Sigh. On Saturday morning, I tossed my machine, my travel sew bag, and me into my car and drove two hours north. (I have no idea what she means about the person piecing the tops refusing her offer of a template.)
2. How did you let people know about it?
Denniele: Emailed everyone I knew…you think I am kidding. Posted on facebook…my personal page, my business page, the 70273 pages, more emails, talked to local guild
Lori: Denniele did all the work here again (are you sensing a theme?). She had already forwarded me the details and flyer, so really, all I did was post them here and on Lori East Quilts, and that was about it. I did send a request out to some of my local area friends, but none of them wanted to do that drive.
3. How many people showed up?
Denniele: Twenty-two in all, six were kids (plus Jack). Two (my daughter, Allison, and my daughter-in-law Ashley) did not sew but helped with labeling.
Lori: From memory, I can count twenty who were in the room where I was sewing. Denniele was both in the reception area AND in the sewing room, though, so her figure is probably more accurate. We mustn’t discount the incredibly productive children Ginger had in her corner. Six of them made well over 150 blocks. Denniele’s granddaughter and grandson were also there and made very effective runners.
4. How many blocks did you make?
At the end of the day we counted 477 souls represented. Yes!!! I had forgotten to take those I had made (17, at last count), so technically, we can count 500. (I’ll make up those additional six this afternoon.) Denniele will be passing a few more blocks on to me next weekend, so I think we will easily have several quilts.
5. What was the best part of the day?
I think there were many “best” parts. In no particular order….I loved seeing my friends come, join in, and ENJOY themselves. They had great stories to tell. I hope I have given them more. Those kids….how amazing were they under Ginger’s care? I so enjoyed watching their blocks get bolder and more creative. One day, they will understand more fully what they participated in. We commemorated 477 lives….what a positive to come from such a deplorable act.
Lori: It was just a good, good day. We ended up with so many blocks, I honestly couldn’t believe how fast they were coming to me…definitely faster than I could sew. Being able to talk about this project, and why it’s important, and see how very committed they all were, was positively wonderful. Being able to hear some of the conversations in the room (and the way Ginger was able to turn it into a teachable moment for the kids) was heartwarming.
6. What was the hardest part of the day?
Denniele: I felt like I needed a twin or triplet. It seemed everyone had a story to tell and they wanted me to hear it. I wanted to hear it but didn’t have oodles of time. I am truly most at ease behind the scene. Where do you think Addison’s shyness comes from? I have to force myself to mingle and I am not always comfortable doing that.
Lori: Two (maybe three) parts were hard. First, my job was to piece tops, so that was what I wanted to and was trying to do. I would have loved to have been three people so I could help with all the other parts too. There was so much going on! People stopped by to drop blocks off and many of them wanted to visit. While that was fun, it was tough to try to listen and get things done. I wanted to hear their stories, of course, but I was a girl on a mission!
Second, the drive. And it was only a two-hour drive, so that tells you a lot.
Well, okay, the third part? Take this with a grain of salt, will you? Although I had taken a cup of coffee from home with me. I had already drunk it. Since I was trying to get to the venue close to start time, I didn’t stop at the nearby Starbucks on my way in. That proved a mistake very quickly. I was so thankful that Veronica talked her son into grabbing a couple of cups for us.
7. What would you do differently next time?
Denniele: I think an all day event would be great. Taking a break for lunch? I would like to sew some as well.
Lori: It couldn’t be helped this time, but I would definitely try to make this an all-day event. I felt like we were just hitting our groove when it was time to pack up. We had the space for three and a half hours…can you imagine what would have happened if we’d been there all day?
Denniele did a really good job of making sure everyone had their area covered. Ginger, for example, hung out with the kids (she has some serious magic in her), Shari and Veronica took turns covering the check-in area, and Denniele herself was everywhere. She took care of getting the kids’ finished blocks pressed, carried out to reception, and names pinned on (actually, I think she and Becky Collis–of Collis Country Quilting–pinned all the names on, but don’t quote me).
Denniele’s grandbabies were such fabulous helpers. Jack, the little red-headed dynamo, took great glee in running to me with a new stack of blocks, plopping them down on the table in front of me, and hearing me groan. It was our fun little game. Little Miss Addison, had her own version of the game, and also took hearing me exclaim very seriously!
The only time I ran into a kerfuffle was after I had pieced enough blocks that the chain was falling onto the floor. I didn’t want to stop to press them! I would have loved a designated presser who could press the finished blocks from all the makers. as well as the seams I sewed. But it wasn’t a big deal. Truly.
8. Will there be a next time?
Denniele: I do believe there will be.
Lori: Yes! I am planning a day a little closer to home very soon. I’ll keep you posted! For now, I have all of the blocks from Saturday to piece together and quilt. I think that’ll keep me busy for a few days.
And now, for those of you who just want to see what we did, here are some of the many photos we took.
What a fabulous day! To think that we were able to create something to commemorate so many lives senselessly lost made it something to remember. I think I speak for Denniele too when I say that we look forward to a lot more days like this until all 70,273 souls are remembered. Are you in? Please let us know if you have questions.