The museum has a tradition of recycling donated quilting and textile-related supplies through a sale in April called the Text and Textiles Sale, where attendees buy a bag and stuff it full with fabric, notions, yarn. As the donations arrive all year, shop employees sort through the contents. Old and new fabrics are found inside the containers, which sometimes hold wonderful surprises too, like finished quilts, quilt tops waiting to be quilted, and antique notions. Beautiful old hexies made from vintage shirting material are waiting to be framed and turned into wall art, and molas made by reverse applique find new homes. Quilting cottons and wool are prized fabrics used to fuel a quilter’s passion, and both sell well during the T & T Sale.
Many donated items are put into the shop right away to be sold to grateful quilters and visitors who appreciate handmade things. Heavier materials such as twill, duck, denim, and even upholstery and decorator fabrics are used to make totes and bags sold in the shop. Some of the quilting fabric is used to make placemats and table runners, which bring in more money for the museum than the fabric alone would do. These items are made by volunteers who are happy to lend their talents to helping the only museum in the Northeast that is devoted to quilt history and art. The shop also makes up bags of scraps and donated fat quarters to sell; this benefits scrap-quilt makers and the museum! We sometimes have vintage scraps, blocks and tops that can be used to repair old quilts or to construct new quilts made with period fabrics. We also have a “Free” basket, where crafters, teachers, and quilters can find treasures for their use.
You never know what you will find! Recently, we were given some beautiful wool suiting fabric stamped Lord Richard and England; it was bought by a tailor who was thrilled to find four yards at a bargain price! A young woman asked for bright and novelty fabrics suitable for use at a child’s birthday party. A year later she returned to the museum with the quilt made from the scraps she got here; the blocks were printed on and colored by the girls at the party.
Donations are never wasted and are used in many ways; they are sold as is or made into items for sale in the shop; they are made into items that are taken to senior centers; and they are made into quilts that are given to charity. So many people benefit from your donations that it truly is like Christmas all year!
Written by Debbie Janes, Museum Shop, and Dottie Macomber, Library Volunteer