Monday, December 17, 2012

Enduring the unendurable

(NOTE: This article was updated on 12-28-12, 8:10 am Pacific time]

I've been tracking ways to help the people of Newtown, Connecticut, scene of the school shooting. Here's what I've learned:
  • Funds are needed more than anything else. A long list of Newtown-area charities that need money: . 
  • Another list is on this CNN page
  • Plus, the Western Connecticut United Way.
  • Scholarships in the names of several victims are listed here. On the same page are family assistance funds.
  • The Connecticut PTA (parent teacher group) is collecting monetary donations for Sandy Hook. 
  • The Connecticut PTA is also collecting snowflakes, made from any material (paper is fine) to decorate the new building that the Sandy Hook Elementary children will be moving into after winter break. Info here. Free snowflake patterns in honor of Sandy Hook are offered by Embroidery Library Inc, here,  and by Sarah Vedeler designs, here. UPDATE 12/28: There are rumors that there are more than enough snowflakes, but the local PTA hasn't removed its call for them yet. 
  • Project Linus, the international charity quilt project, is sending 700 completed quilts to Sandy Hook. They don't need you to make another quilt, but are accepting donations to cover shipping.
  • A Connecticut quilter named Paula DeSilva is organizing a quiltmaking campaign at Fabric as well as monetary donations are welcomed. 
  • Quilts for Sandy Hook Elementary children are being collected by craft publisher Taunton Press, which is located in Newtown. Info: . 
  • The mother of Noah Pozner, 6, who died in the massacre has asked that trees be planted in Israel in his name, and in memory of all the deceased. Hadassah, the Jewish women's organization, has set up a page where people can purchase trees for $18 each. 
  • The project I know the most about is a pillowcase project, launched by Becky Frazer, the owner of the Quilter's Corner shop in New Milford, Connecticut, about 15 minutes from Newtown.  Becky is hoping to collect 600 kid-friendly-fabric pillowcases to give to the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since announcing the effort Saturday, she's had calls from all over the country, and even from Spain, pledging pillowcases. Find updates at . Or contact Becky at, phone 860-355-4516.  
Someone wrote to ask me a very good question - what's so great about pillowcases?


(This is a child model, from the Million Pillowcase Challenge - see below).

Basically, it's a hug. From a distance.

Quilters' pillowcases aren't like the plain shmatas that you find in, say, my bedroom. Quilters make them from top-quality fun fabrics - two or more - plus, often, a decorative trim - piping, rickrack, etc. There's the main part of the pillowcase; a wide cuff; and then, optionally, a trim between them. They're quick to make, and, along with grieving for lost children, you're also thinking about color and pattern and combinations that might delight a traumatized child who could use something to smile about.

Becky suggested I make a "tube" pillowcase. Have you heard of that? Me neither. She promised me that it's easy, I'd enjoy it, and that there are lots of directions on the web.

Google found an excellent how-to video at It's from the Missouri Star Quilt Company, who posted it to encourage stitchers to participate in a different charity, the monumental American Patchwork and Quilting 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge.

The directions are crystal clear, and, and as Barbara suggested, unexpected - there's a counter-intuitive roll-into-a-tube-and-stitch inside-out-maneuver that magically hides all the cuff seams. (The pillowcase doesn't come out like a tube - it's the rolling action that's tubular).

The video project requires three fabrics:
  • Main fabric - 27" (= 3/4 yard) x fabric width, selvage to selvage (around 44")
  • Cuff fabric - 9" x  fabric width (= 1/4 yard - NOT a fat quarter)
  • Trim  - 2" x  fabric width.  
The video was made before the Newtown tragedy, but the instructor points out, "When you have people who are suffering, to have something that somebody made for you, it's really a sweet gesture."

If you prefer written directions, try these: . These directions are almost exactly the same as the method on the video, with the same fabric requirements (except the trim is cut to 3" instead of 2").

Becky said that she will personally bring all the donated pillowcases directly to the school. "If you want to send a quilt, I'll bring that, too," she added.

POSTSCRIPT I (12/19): It's been pointed out that there are now so many quilt-type projects that the people of Newtown won't know what to do with them. So contact and/or check the Facebook page of the Newtown sewing charity you want to give to and make sure they still need your handcrafted item. If they don't, donate the item to a charity in your area, and/or to the Hurricane Sandy quilt projects. There are still many people suffering in the cold from Sandy's damage.
POSTSCRIPT II (12/20): From a Connecticut reader who today attended a meeting of Newtown-area clergy: "The community of Newtown is COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED by the overabundance of attention...If you can continue to pray for the community and encourage the media to let them go on with their lives that would be great." 
POSTSCRIPT III (12/23): (From an AP story about how much the people of Newtown appreciate the gifts pouring in): "There were nine minutes of evil, and an infinity of goodness after that," Stratford said, sitting on a forklift loaded with gifts. "This is therapy for me."


  1. Good advice about the quilts. When we lost our son on 9/11, our local guild brought quilts for mynson's siblings. Cantor Fizgsrald was inundated with many more quilts than they needed. Many were sent to other groups. Also, there was a wonderful Teddy Bear project. The one that affected us was we received, by no plan at all, a teddy sent by a nursery school in SC. The children donated one of their own. My son went to the Univ. of SC and his name was Joshua. The little boy who sent the bear was named Joshua. We were beyond amazed.

  2. Judi, thanks for your insights. The Newtown tragedy has been so hard for many people who've lived through similar tragedies. I'm glad that the bears offered some solace.


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