Back on Dec 20, 2022 we aired a HQ Watch and Learn Quilting Show about Signature Quilts. You can watch it here. In the show Kim and Kristina share several kinds of signature quilts. One of them was a quilt that was gifted to Handi Quilter by my guild, The Southern Wake Quilters’ Guild, here in beautiful North Carolina. Every quilt tells a story, especially signature quilts.
Several guild members created spool blocks and signed them. I had the honor and privilege of quilting it. Kim mentions in the video that there is a story behind the quilt. And what a great story it is!
This story is a tale of many great people (and one angel), full of love and generosity, coming together at just the right time and place. The tale speaks to the tremendously kind corporate heart of Handi Quilter. It is one of the many reasons I am proud to represent Handi Quilter as a National Educator.
I am also proud to be a member of the Southern Wake Quilters’ Guild. We support many charitable initiatives.
Quilts for Kids, making quilts for local children’s hospitals. Ours is the McGee’s Crossroads chapter in the North American Quilts for Kids Organization. We have been the top donor every year for the past 12 years. In 2022 we made and donated 1466 quilts!
Quilts of Valor, making quilts to honor military veterans.
Ryan’s Case for Smiles making colorful pillowcases for local children’s hospitals. In 2022 we made and donated 1405 pillow cases.
These are the national groups we contribute to. We also have a member initiative, Scrap Happy Quilts, that makes quilts for local organizations that support and help the homeless.
The story of the 501c3
The guild was in its infancy in 2015. There were, maybe, 50 members. They applied to the IRS for a 501c3 designation for recognition of exemption for charitable endeavors and were waiting for the results of the application.
The then president of the guild, Shelly Coddington, worked hard, with the help of many, to fill out the required application. She got the approval from the IRS in the mail on Saturday. On Sunday she went to a local quilt shop, Bernina World of Sewing, waving the envelope and shouting, “we got it! We got it!” There was great rejoicing in the shop!
The story of Deb Karasik
Deb Karasik is a quilter, author, and teacher, who is well-known for her paper piecing patterns and books. Deb has since retired from her quilting career. In 2015 she moved to Durham, North Carolina. At that time she was a Handi Quilter ambassador. She owned a Handi Quilter HQ16 machine and no longer had room for a longarm in her new home. She called Handi Quilter and wanted to send it back. Handi Quilter asked her to find a local charitable group who could use the machine. One stipulation was that the group must have a 501c3 designation.
The story of the Open Door Quilt House
The McGee’s Crossroads Chapter of Quilts for Kids is headed by Bonnie Whitley. Bonnie is a member of the Southern Wake Quilter’s Guild.
Back in 2015 Bonnie would hold workshop days for Quilts for Kids. She would clear out her husband’s motorcycles from the garage and set up tables. Guild members would come with their sewing machines, mats and rotary cutters and and get to work. Some cut and assembled kits that guild members could take home to sew. Others sewed quilt tops. Some sorted and pressed fabric. They had a grand time working together.
Bonnie has a longarm machine. Most of the quilt tops that members made went to Bonnie to be quilted.
One of Bonnie’s neighbors, down the road a piece, passed. His family put his very old country house up for sale. Unbeknownst to Bonnie, her husband bought the property. He made needed repairs to the house. Then, he built 20 sewing tables, using the bottoms of old abandoned treadle machines for the legs, adding a wooden top. He filled 2 rooms with these tables. A third room got a large cutting table and shelves on all the walls.
One day, he asked Bonnie to go for a motorcycle ride. They hopped on the bike and started off down the road. When shortly he pulled into the yard of the house, Bonnie wondered if there was a problem with the motorcycle. ??
Her wonder-husband brought Bonnie to the front door of the house and reached into his pocket. He pulled out the keys and placed them in Bonnie’s hand. He said, “This is for your Quilts for Kids stuff. Stop using my garage.”
The house’s name is the Open Door Quilt House, where all are welcome to come help make quilts for sick kids in the hospital.
The phone call
Remember, Shelly went into the quilt shop with the good news on Sunday? So…
On Monday, Deb Karasik called Bernina World of Sewing. She spoke to the shop’s owner and asked if there was a local group with 501c3 status, who could use a Handi Quilter longarm machine to quilt charity quilts. The owner said, “As a matter-of-fact, I do!” She gave Deb Shelly’s phone number and Deb called Shelly.
Of course, Shelly thought having a longarm for the members to quilt the many charity quilts would be a wonderful asset for the guild. The problem was where to keep it? Then Shelly remembered there was an empty room at the Open Door Quilt house.
Shelly told Deb she would call her back with an answer and immediately called Bonnie. The conversation went something like this:
Shelly: Hey Bonnie, you know that empty room at the Quilt House?
Shelly: Handi Quilter wants to give our guild a longarm machine. Can we keep it in that room, so it will be accessible to our members to quilt our charity quilts?
Bonnie: (who at this point was quilting MANY quilts each week herself) YES! of course!
The Guild meeting
Here’s where I come into the story. I had recently moved from Florida to North Carolina. I had been a Handi Quilter National Educator for about 5 years at that time. The life of an educator means a LOT of travel and very little at-home time. I heard there was a guild that met in my town.
It was Tuesday and I was home for a few days. I looked up the guild to find out when they met. Lo and behold, the meeting was that night, Tuesday night! So, I went to the meeting.
I walked into the hall and looked around at all the happy smiling quilters. This was going to be my new tribe! Someone recognized me because she had been in a class I taught near there a year ago. She knew I lived in Florida. “What are you doing here?”, she asked. “I live here now!”, I answered. We chatted a while and then she took me to meet Shelly, the guild’s president.
“Shelly, this is Mary Beth Krapil. She’s a Handi Quilter educator.”
Shelly’s eyes got as big as silver dollars. She grabbed my wrist and pulled me into a corner of the room. She said, “I’m going to tell you something you have to promise not to tell anyone.” I was a bit taken aback by this sudden behavior. “O-O-OK, I don’t know anyone here so….no problem”
The story of the one time someone called me an angel
And she proceeded to tell me the story of Deb and Bonnie and the 501c3 and the quilt shop and the Quilt House. Then she said, “and here you are, an angel sent from heaven, to teach us how to use the machine!”
The rest of the story
Handi Quilter refurbished the HQ16 machine and generously donated a new Studio frame and sent it to the Quilt House. Bonnie, Shelly and I set it up in the empty room. And, I (the angel) held classes to teach anyone who wanted to quilt charity quilts how to operate the machine.
The machine is named, Diane, in memory of a founding member of the guild. Diane is still in operation today. The Quilt House holds workshops for Quilts for Kids on a quarterly basis. Each week a group meets to cut and assemble kits and sew and quilt with Diane. Other groups also use the Quilt House to meet. It’s the happiest place on earth. (Sorry Disney).
I almost forgot…
The story of the quilt
The guild wanted to do something to express our appreciation to Handi Quilter. I immediately suggested making a quilt, and told about all the quilts that hang at HQ headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Members made blocks and signed them, I quilted and labeled it. I took the quilt to Salt Lake City to present to the generous kind men, Mark Highland and Darren Denning, who gave a guild a longarm machine. That machine has made it possible to give thousands of quilts. I told the story of the quilt to all the employees of the company. I won’t tell you who cried, (everyone) as I read the label. It says: To Handi Quilter from the Southern Wake Quilters’ Guild. With all our love and deepest appreciation for the opportunity to touch countless lives with your most generous gift. Pieced by the Southern Wake Quilters and quilted by Mary Beth Krapil, November 2015.
It is truly a story of the stars aligning to bring people together for good. And it all happened in 3 consecutive days.
The quilt hangs at Handi Quilter. Be sure to look for it if you ever go visit.
Quilt every day!
by Mary Beth Krapil