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April 27, 1994: Mandela Votes by Margaret Williams. From “OURstory: Human Rights Stories in Fabric.”

Quilts for Good

There are countless ways that quilters, guilds, and groups use quilting and sewing to give back to the larger community, and we’re highlighting just a few of those here. If you know a person or organization you think should be included in a future edition of “Quilts for Good,” email their information to


Among the exhibits debuting at this year’s Quilt Festival in Houston is one that “will tell the stories of the struggles of all people to experience the rights to which all people are entitled.”

Colorblind by Mary Sneyd. From “OURstory: Human Rights Stories in Fabric."

In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which delineated the rights to which all humans in all countries should be entitled. The “OURstory” exhibit commemorates the declaration with 42 art quilts created by artists from six different countries and celebrating the heroes who fought for rights long denied to various groups of people. Many of the quilts also represent the events that drew the attention of news media and the public, and ultimately served as catalysts for change. Each quilt measures 25” x 40.”

This moving exhibit was curated by Susanne Miller Jones, who previously coordinated and curated the “Fly Me to the Moon” and “HERstory: A Celebration of Strong Women” exhibits.


Following the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip last year, the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild members quickly jumped into action. Struggling to put together words about what happened in their home city, the group says they decided instead to put together quilts.

The guild began requesting donated quilts, quilt tops, blocks, binding, backing, batting, and monetary donations for their #QuiltsForVegas quilt drive. They received quilts, materials, and the help of volunteers from all over the
U.S. and other countries including Canada, Germany,
and Switzerland.

In total, the quilting community helped the group collect
and create 250 quilts—all of which include a heart somewhere in their design—for survivors and those impacted by the shooting.

A selection of the quilts is currently on display in the Rotunda of the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas. The exhibit is also intended to serve
as an outreach effort to encourage those impacted by the shooting to contact the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center and learn about the services it provides.

After the exhibit has closed, the display quilts will be distributed by
raffle to individuals who have registered with the Vegas Strong
Resiliency Center.

Quilts for Vegas display. Photo by Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau.


It was during a trip to Uganda and Kenya to celebrate her 50th birthday that Little Dresses for Africa founder Rachel O’Neill first fell in love with the continent. While the beauty and the people of Africa captured her heart, O’Neill was also struck by the plight of many women and children there, and was resolved to return to Africa and “honor them in some tangible way.”

It was on her second trip to Africa—to Malawi—that the idea for
Little Dress for Africa was born. O’Neill decided to return with “little dresses” as a way to provide much-needed clothing to girls in need. But, as she explains, the dresses serve a larger purpose than providing something to wear.

“These dresses go as little ambassadors all over the world to plant in
the hearts of little girls that they are worthy. These dresses give the distributors an opportunity to meet and encourage those in need and
to identify areas that can be addressed with help from the USA, such
as clean water and education. Relationships are formed and information is shared.”

Since that time, the organization has led dozens of trips and developed relationships across Africa. What began as a grassroots effort with a goal of taking 1,000 dresses to a single village has grown to an organization providing well over eight million dresses for girls and pants for boys in
84 countries. Collection and distribution points can now be found all around the globe.

The dresses are sewn by volunteers from all over the world, and
the organization offers several ways that individual sewists or groups
can contribute. If you’re interested in sewing a pillowcase dress
or contributing in some other way, you can find information and guidelines HERE.

© 2018. A publication of Quintessential Quilt Media. No portion may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Quilts, Inc.