The Demo Quilt with a Deeper Meaning

This little quilt started off very simple but took a turn for the inspiring.
Let me explain…

When I first started getting together a booth to do craft fairs, I needed some demo quilts to help people see the options for t-shirt quilt blocks and styles. I went to the local thrift store and found several shirts from a couple of the local high schools. I was one block short for one of them when I found a shirt for the Amanda Riley Foundation. It was the same colors as the school, but I wasn’t sure if it was connected. I figured the shirt was cheap enough to take a gamble and I’d look it up when I got home.

Turns out it was connected to the school in a big way. Amanda had been a student there, very involved with the school, when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. She fought long and hard, but she passed away in 2010. Her parents set up this foundation to help support children and their families as they battle cancer.

To say I’m in awe of this couple is putting it lightly. They lost their child and resisted, what I imagine, is the urge to retreat inward. They saw their own experience and used it as motivation to reach out and support others in similar situations. To fall in love with them and their cause as well, check out their explanation of why they do what they do.

Back to the quilt….

So as I was putting this quilt together, I noticed one of the other shirts I’d grabbed was from the same year Amanda Riley was a student. It was an impulse that made me stop and scan the names to see, but, sure enough, her name was there as one of the school’s peer leaders. I couldn’t believe it!

To help raise funds for the foundation, her school has a Riley Run and Carnival FUN Day. I got a vendor booth at their show a couple of years ago. While there, I made sure to show her mother, Mrs. Barbara Riley, the demo quilt with the coincidental Amanda link. Then she pointed out something that gave me goosebumps. She mentioned I’d gotten her basketball number as well. You see, at the thrift store I’d found a #2 reversible basketball jersey and used both sides in the quilt. So the corners both have the number 2 in them. Turns out Amanda’s number was 22. I had no idea, guys, but her mother saw it immediately.

As I’ve done more shows with more ready made quilts on hand, I started only putting up one demo quilt. I knew what I had to do when I realized I could retire one of the demo quilts forever. I messaged the foundation through their Facebook page and got in contact with mom. I’m happy to say that I was able to finally gift her the quilt earlier this week. I hope it brings her comfort as she and her family continue their ministry to other families as they navigate childhood cancer.

New adventures

I love the craft fairs and being a vendor at them.  They’re fun, and I get to meet lots of different people.  But one issue I run in to is that I don’t sell many smaller items.  Much of my inventory is higher priced, so I’m learning what shows work for me.

Lots of folks will come by and oohhh and aaaahhh, but if they aren’t bothering to look at price tags, they didn’t come prepared to shop.  And if you’re selling larger priced items, you need to find shows where people are prepared to shop.  Shows that are focused on something else and have thrown vendors in as an aside don’t often do well for larger-priced items.

So I’ve found that Spring shows haven’t done well for me in the past.  Let’s face it – quilts don’t sell well in warm weather.  I’d sworn I wasn’t going to do anymore Spring shows, but two came up that I just couldn’t resist giving a try.

One is the Riley Day event, April 27th, hosted by the fine people over at the Amanda Riley Foundation. All proceeds from that show go to support families as they deal with childhood cancer, and the more I learn about the Riley family the more I want to support them.  So I figure it’s a win no matter what, and the fact that it would reach my niche client group is a major bonus.

The other event is my biggest event yet – the Vintage Market Days of Greater Atlanta, May 31-June 2.  Vintage Market Days specializes in antiques, recycled and up-cycled art and decor, and they have shows all over the USA.  My daughter and I went on a reconnaissance visit to the Christmas one, and I thought I might do alright at it.  My daughter gave her 8 year’s wisdom and agreed that it was worth a shot.  Again, the people attending looked like they might be in my niche client group – folks who liked sentimental items, especially re-purposed ones.  So I don’t know how my ready-made items will do, but I’m thinking my t-shirt quilt commissions will fair well.

Since the big event is also inside, I’m trying something new with my booth layout, and I’ll use the Riley Day event to test it out.  So here’s hoping the new layout pays off.

So if you’re in the area, come on by and say hi!