Copyright 2009 Teresa
All Rights Reserved
A Patchwork of Friends
Twenty Plenty International
Quilt Block Swap
Originally Published August 18, 1999, in the
Free Lance-Star Fredericksburg, Virginia
Reproduced in its entirety with permission of the author and newspaper.
By Wendy LaRue
|Nifty Fifty Quilters
Nifty Fifty Quilters Website
|Copyright 2011 Teresa Drummond
All Rights Reserved
|Some say music is the universal language. But Teresa Drummond would likely disagree.
Over the last year, she has proven that people who’ve never met can piece together friendships based on the
common threads among those who practice the art of quilting.
The Park Ridge subdivision resident and about 35 other women, from places as near by as Pennsylvania and
Canada and as far away as Germany, Japan and Belarus, participated in an international quilt-block
exchange that Drummond organized through Internet quilting guilds.
Thanks to regular group e-mail updates and individual messages sent back and forth between particular
members, Drummond and the others have kept in touch as they stitched together colorful pieces of fabric
into 12 inch squares representing their home countries or countries where they’ve lived.
"I’ve learned so much about geography and gotten to know some really nice people," Drummond said.
Drummond’s sons got a lesson in geography as well. Sean, now age 12, had asked participants in a 50-state
block exchange his mother organized to send small muslin squares representing their states to use for a
Standards of Learning based project in his fifth-grade class.
Durmmond through the international exchange would give her younger son, Donald, 9, a chance to work on
a similar project. But Sean didn’t want to miss out. So both boys sent sharks’ teeth in exchange for a
geography lesson in the form of quilt blocks.
Drummond had decided to host the cross-cultural quilt-block exchange after she organized the 50-state
block exchange, which was completed in spring 1998. Several people had suggested she consider a more
far-reaching project, and Drummond couldn’t resist the idea. "This was much easier than the Nifty Fifty
exchange," Drummond said. "It only took a year, not three."
For her 50-state exchange, Drummond started off finding participants by U.S. mail---a slow process, at
best. Eventually her friend and fellow member of Stafford Piecemakers quilting guild Pam Crosby began
helping Drummond find participants through the Internet.
By the end of the three-year project, Drummond was online and had started her own web site. For the
international exchange, she went straight to the Internet where she posted notices on bulletin boards at on-
line quilting guild’s Web sties.
Those who decided to participate were asked to make a set of 20 blocks that would be exchanged with
blocks from other seamstresses. Quilters also had the option of sending extra sets to exchange. Drummond
took in blocks from 57 people in 39 countries. There were about 100 different designs. "That was more than
3,000 blocks we had to sort," she said. " I thought sorting 2,500 was bad for the 50-state exchange. I never
dreamed this would come to so many blocks."
This spring Drummond, Crosby, Wendy Clark from Pennsylvania, who all participated in the exchange,
along with several other quilters who traveled to Stafford County to help sort blocks, doled out the
painstakingly stitched patches that consumed most of one of the conference rooms at Porter Library.
Jessica Polley, a member of Stafford Piecemakers came to help, because that’s what guild members do for
each other. Patty Meyer of Chicago came because she is Drummond’s pen pal through Interquilt, an on-line
guild. Ruth Land of King George and Brenda Neily from hear Boston came because they heard about the
project on Interquilt.
Neily had an interest beyond her love of quilting. Twenty Plenty members had the option to stitch an extra
block for a project that is intended to help raise money for breast cancer research. With those blocks, the
group that gathered in Stafford created two quilt tops. Names of breast cancer patients will be signed on the
backs of the quilts. Then Drummond hopes to auction one quilt and donate the proceeds to help support
researchers working specifically on breast cancer issues.
"I’d like to find a spot in a museum for the other," she said. When Neily, a breast cancer patient herself,
found out about that component of the exchange, she wanted to get involved. Besides coming to sew
together the blocks for the Twenty-Plenty breast cancer quilts, Neily is helping Drummond arrange an on-line
auction of a Nifty Fifty breast cancer quilt on E-bay through the hospital where she receives treatment. The
proceeds will go to support the work of a new breast cancer researcher there.
Once Drummond had all the blocks from the Twenty Plenty exchange sorted and loaded into mailers, they
were shipped across the country and around the world. And when participants received their packages, they
had rave reviews for the work of the other women in the group and for Drummond’s efforts in organizing the
Hiroko Onozawa wrote from Japan to say: "I can’t find any suitable words to express my mind. I have
received 60 blocks from around the world." Later, Onozawa wrote to tell members that she would appear
on television in Japan because of her participation in the project.
Gillie Ewart of England e-mailed to tell the group she was "gob smacked".
"The postman arrived this morning with a box with all my squares for the exchange," she wrote. "We have
friends visiting and we all sat around the table and oohd and aahd a lot over the different ideas and wondered
how you all came up with such great ideas."
Jacquie Liddiard of Australia wrote to say she planned to name her quilt, "Glimpses of the World".
"Well ladies, what can I say except thank you very much from the bottom of my heart," she wrote to the
woman that had given her the windows through which to see those glimpses.
Barbara Trapp, German by birth, lived in Egypt when the swap started. By the time the blocks were
shipped, she had moved to Texas because of her husband’s job. She was feeling lonely and overwhelmed as
she unpacked boxes in a place where the only people she’d met were sales people and deliverymen. But
when the box from Drummond arrived, her spirits were uplifted.
"I don’t think words can describe what I felt when I looked at the blocks, I just wanted to hug the world,
which you could almost take literally." She wrote. "I thought this swap might be fun when I joined, but it has
exceeded my wildest dreams."
Who knows that Drummond will endeavor next. As she and others sorted blocks at Porter Library, one of
her quilting friends suggested Drumond’s next project could be an intergalactic exchange.
At the suggestion, she chuckled as her cheeks lifted and the corners of her mouth turned up into a
contemplative smile. "Well, I could..."
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