Quilters Turn Scraps
Into Winter Time Gold
A little over a year ago (October 2013) my wife heard about an interesting project involving quilts.
She loves all things quilts so her natural response was to look further and find out what was going on.
As it turns out the project is spearheaded by Sheila van Dyk and is quite ambitious. Sheila aims to recruit as many quilters as possible to build the world’s largest quilt verified, of course, by The Guinness Book of Records.
Ultimately the project is for charity, not fame. The large quilt will be constructed by sewing 11,000 single bed sized quilts together, which will then be separated and donated to charity.
You read that right. Eleven thousand (11,000) quilts are needed to reach the goal but in the end it means 11,000 people will sleep with a little more warmth during cold weather.
To give you perspective, that’s more than three times the size of the playing area on a rugby field.
It’s a great idea but a big one and initially wasn’t well received. Sheila was dismissed with “you think too big” on one occasion and “it will never work in South Africa” on another.
That didn’t stop Sheila. If anything, it spurred her on and she is now leading a group of dedicated people in bringing warmth where it is needed most.
My wife, Becky, being the industrious person she is, got excited about the project and began building quilts and sending them to Sheila. She had loads of scraps, which she transformed into beautiful quilts. That’s what quilters do.
Since Becky had never met Sheila, and we were visiting family in Fourways over the 94.7 Cycle Challenge weekend (2014), she asked if we could meet for coffee. Sheila agreed and we used the opportunity to deliver another bag of quilt tops.
What a great lady! Enthusiastic just doesn’t say enough. Physically, Sheila is small but she came across as a power house. Full of ideas and energy. Very pleasant, all smiles, but seriously focused and very frugal too.
And she’s made an impact.
Here are the facts:
- The goal is 11,000 quilts.
- So far 1600 quilt tops have been donated, of which 600 have been quilted.
- The first 1000 quilts were contributed by only 10 ladies but there are now 20 contributors. She aims to increase that number.
- Commercial contributors include Da Gamma Textiles and Lady Jane Quilting to name a few.
- In addition to quilts, countless individuals have contributed material, cotton (thread), money and even a long arm quilting machine.
- A Facebook group page, QuiltMania2015, broadcasts successes and keeps everyone in touch.
- The goal for completion is 2015.
And there’s more. Sheila is developing school projects and has ideas for training people how to sew. Forget under her feet. I can’t imagine grass growing anywhere near her.
I got the impression Sheila was more than just an idea person. She also has the gift of giving and organization, and knows how to see things through.
She’s in the process of getting an NGO setup for ongoing work.
If you have some free time, and maybe a few scraps, get in touch with Sheila through the Facebook page. You’ll find her engaging and compelling.
All the best, Sheila. We love what you do and you for doing it.