Many Hands Support Charity Quilt Project

Deborah Burke Henderson, Contributing Writer
Residents Participate in Quilt-a-thon to Benefit Individuals in Need
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

Ashland resident Tobi Hoffman is usually working Saturdays, even on a national holiday like Veterans Day, but last month she joined a gathering of women making colorful comfort quilts for men and women undergoing chemotherapy and children facing hardship before heading off to her afternoon 3-to-8 p.m. shift at Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics in Framingham.
In fact, this holiday, Joe Olinto, owner of Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics at 303 Worcester Rd (Route 9 West), donated approximately 40 pounds of material, all 100 percent cotton used for quilting, to support the local effort.
Hoffman, like many other community volunteers, including fellow resident Dorothy Nail, brought her sewing machine to the quilt-a-thon held at the Unitarian Universalist Area Church in Sherborn for The Power of the Quilt Project, now in its 14th year.
“I’m making a quilt entirely from the donated fabrics,” Hoffman said with a smile as she ran her fingers along the length of multiple strips being pieced together in a unique geometric design.
A fabric artist and art quilter, Hoffman has been sewing as long as she can remember. She is a member of the Framingham Artists Guild and recently joined their Board of Directors. Her work often appears in the gallery at Amazing Things Arts Center, 160 Hollis St. in Framingham, just over the Ashland border, in the old restored firehouse.
Hoffman is just one pair of many hands touching The Power of the Quilt Project, part of the Service and Justice Ministries of the UUAC.
Olinto donated bolts of fabric which will be measured and cut by project volunteers. Other hands will sew fabrics using any one of a dozen traditional quilt patterns. Some will iron strips and squares before placing them on a makeshift muslin “design wall” in Alliance Hall in the church’s lower level.
Once the quilt “top” is sewn together, volunteers will “sandwich” cotton batting between the top and a snuggly, flannel bottom layer. The project calls for quilts made with flannel backing because that material is so comforting and warming to the touch; it is especially appreciated by those individuals undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Then a choice is made to either hand tie the quilt layers together or machine stitch them. The machine stitching is done through a “free motion” process or generated by a Longarm stitching machine using computer software to produce elaborate stitch patterns covering the entire quilt and securing the layers together.
A cancer survivor, myself, I worked on seven quilts over the summer months which were generously Longarm stitched as an in-kind donation by the husband-wife team at Creative Longarm Partners in Marlborough - more hands and hearts interested in supporting this charity quilt project.
Once the quilts are complete, each receives a hand-sewn project label, identifying it as part of The Power of the Quilt Project. Another volunteer drives the stack of completed, handmade lap robes to a medical facility in Boston where the quilts are delivered to a nurse on the infusion ward, just before being handed out to individual recipients.
At this gathering, nearly 30 quilts were finished. Most were made at home and received labels at the quilt-a-thon; others were created entirely during the eight-hour span.
“We want to bring a little joy and comfort to those in need,” Hoffman added. “This is a great project, and I’m happy to contribute to it. A lot of love is sewn into each original piece.”
Three quilt-a-thons occur each year, and the next is on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Monday, January 15, 2018. Volunteers of any ability are welcome. If you are interested in attending, email PQP Coordinator Diane McNamara at [email protected].
Established in 2003, The Power of the Quilt Project is a community service project that touches the lives of many – those giving and those receiving. More than 2,200 colorful quilts have been produced and donated during that time. For more information about the project, visit or check out the project blog at