Quilt Guild Aims to Meet Pillowcase Challenge

For a child, being hospitalized can be especially frightening, depressing and boring. But a group of area stitchers has joined a national effort to make those hospital stays more pleasant by sewing colorful, even whimsical, pillowcases for young patients’ beds.

The Fort Henry Piecemakers Quilt Guild in Wheeling is participating in the One Million Pillowcase Challenge, organized by American Patchwork & Quilting. The goal is to make a million pillowcases by the end of 2011 and donate them to charities.

Locally, the Fort Henry Piecemakers, which has about 70 members, is giving its finished pillowslips to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. To date, participating quilters have turned in 132 pillowcases at guild meetings, said Gail Ruminski, vice president and program committee chair of the guild. Additional cases have been taken directly to the sponsoring quilt shop.

At the guild’s March 10 meeting, members turned in 101 pillowcases, Ruminski said. Later, during the group’s National Quilting Day gathering at St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheeling Saturday, March 19, members made and donated 30 more pillowcases, she said. One more pillowslip was turned in at the monthly meeting Thursday, April 14.

Other members also have indicated that they want to participate in the pillowcase project. “The interest is escalating,” Ruminski said.

Janet Andrews, president of the Fort Henry Piecemakers, has turned over the completed pillowcases to Jeana Paglialunga, owner of From Past to Present quilt shop in St. Clairsville. Paglialunga, in turn, will deliver the finished items to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh where they will be distributed to children in the cancer therapy units.

Paglialunga said her shop, located at 139 1/2 W. Main St. in St. Clairsville, will be “a drop-off point for the rest of the year.” The shop owner added, “I will give a discount on fabric to anyone making pillowcases.”

Some quilters have turned in pillowcases directly to the From Past to Present shop, adding to the total number created by the guild, Paglialunga said. She hasn’t counted the additional cases yet.

Paglialunga said she plans to deliver the pillowcases to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Wednesday, April 20.

The challenge is open to all stitchers, not only members of the quilting guild. “Anyone is welcome to make them,” Ruminski said. “If any of the readers want to help, they can make them and turn them in to Jeana (Paglialunga).”

Ruminski said guild members have been exceptionally enthusiastic about the pillowcase project. “I was really happy to see how many were turned in,” she said.

The local guild’s numbers for completed pillowcases are added to a running tally on American Patchwork & Quilting’s website, www.allpeoplequilt.com. As of Friday, April 15, the website listed a total of 268,084 donated pillowslips. Ruminski said that when she checked the website at the end of 2010, the tally then was about 250,000.

Officials of American Patchwork & Quilting “challenged all quilters to contact a local quilt shop that is participating in the challenge and donate pillowcases, made by local quilters, to a local charity,” Ruminski said.

Instructions for the project were provided to guild members at the Fort Henry Piecemakers’ February meeting. The members were asked to go home and make pillowcases. They responded enthusiastically and turned in 101 finished pillow coverings the next month.

Keeping in mind that the pillowcases were destined for the beds of pediatric cancer patients, the guild members selected soft fabrics that would not irritate sensitive skin. To brighten the patients’ rooms (and moods), many chose bright-colored fabrics, which they adorned with equally colorful trimming. Fabrics with whimsical patterns, such as illustrations of cartoon characters, also were used, with the hope of bringing a smile to the face of a hospitalized child.

The sewing instructions for pillowcases to benefit cancer patients at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC are as follows:

  • Choose fabrics that are for children of all ages and 44 inches wide.
  • Lay cuff fabric right side up on the work surface.
  • Press the accent fabric in half lengthwise – wrong sides together. Lay on top of cuff fabric, matching raw edges at top and sides.
  • Lay body fabric wrong side up on top of accent fabric – line up raw edges at top and sides.
  • Roll the body fabric from the bottom up to get it out of the way. Bring the bottom edge of the cuff fabric to the top edge of all fabrics, matching and pinning all the raw edges together.

Ruminski said the instructions also are posted on the website, www.allpeoplequilt.com.