Suzy Quilts Gives Back: The Quilt Alliance

The Quilt Alliance is one of five nonprofits Suzy Quilts is donating to in 2022. Learn more about their important mission to preserve quilt stories! #quilting

Supporting our communities and giving back is at the heart of what we do at Suzy Quilts. We've been donating to a wide array of nonprofits since 2020 and this year we aren't only fundraising—we're friend-raising! 

That means we're supporting these nonprofits through a financial donation and doing our best to get the word out about the great things they are doing. We want you to get to know the five nonprofits we're donating to this year so you can join us in supporting their good work.

Giving Back: The Quilt Alliance

First up this year is the Quilt Alliance—one of the most vital and important organizations in the quilt world. As a Quilt Alliance board member myself, I have seen first-hand the impact of what this organization is able to do with just a staff of three and a team of volunteers! 

With a focus on preserving the stories of quilts and quiltmakers, this grassroots nonprofit is doing essential work that has been largely neglected by historians and researchers until recent decades. Not only does the Quilt Alliance recognize the importance of our histories as quilters, the organization has also created a number of community-driven ways for any and all quilters to share their stories.

The QA mission is for all quilters and everyone who loves quilts. Whether you make quilts or love quilts made by others, we know that quilts have stories worthy of sharing and preserving. – Amy Milne, Quilt Alliance Executive Director 
The Quilt Alliance is one of five nonprofits Suzy Quilts is donating to in 2022. Learn more about their important mission to preserve quilt stories! #quilting

Founded in 1993, the Quilt Alliance is a nonprofit 501c3 organization with a mission to document, preserve, and share our American quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts—and their makers—tell about our nation’s diverse peoples and their communities.

To advance their mission, the Quilt Alliance offers regular educational programming about quilts and quilters, collects and preserves stories of quilts and quiltmakers for historians to study, and produces a popular podcast. Keep reading to learn about these meaningful projects led by the Quilt Alliance! 

The Quilt Alliance is one of five nonprofits Suzy Quilts is donating to in 2022. Learn more about their important mission to preserve quilt stories! #quilting

Photo: Zak Foster, Quilter's S.O.S.—Save Our Stories, accessed March 25, 2022.

QSOS Quilters' Save Our Stories Oral History Project

Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories (QSOS) is the largest oral history collection about quiltmakers in the world. The archive of original audio recordings and photographs is the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Pretty cool, right?

The best part? You can listen to many of these interviews on the QSOS website, and more interviews are being uploaded regularly! Listening to a QSOS interview is a great way to pass the time while working on your own quilt.

Some of the biggest names in quilting have been interviewed, including Zak Foster (pictured above), Sherri Lynn Wood, Carolyn Mazloomi, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Michael Cummings, Denyse Schmidt, and more. The project is open to anyone who wants to record an interview, so you can listen to well-known quilters and historians as well as hobbyist quilters.

In fact, Suzy will be recording a QSOS oral history interview later this year that will be released in October at a Textile Talk, a free series of weekly virtual lectures about quilts and textiles co-hosted by the Quilt Alliance. Stay tuned for more information this fall!

Amy Milne notes that the $2,700 donation from Suzy Quilts will be used to advance the QSOS project. "This generous donation will allow the Quilt Alliance to complete critical preparation work to make way for the re-opening of the QSOS oral history project in 2023," she said. "We want to be sure that all of the voices captured in the 1,200 interviews currently in the collection are easy for you to browse, search and listen to by next spring."

Go Tell It Quilt Story Videos

Recording a Go Tell It video is the easiest and fastest way to preserve your quilt story with the Quilt Alliance. The formula is simple—one person talking about one quilt in front of a camera for three minutes. Like the QSOS oral history project, anyone is welcome and encouraged to record a video, and you can learn how to make your own Go Tell It video here. You can record a video in your home, just like quilter Heidi Parkes did in the video above!

Amy Milne emphasized the importance of recording your quilt story, through a Go Tell It Video or an oral history when the QSOS project re-opens in 2023. "Quilts can do so many things (cover, comfort, inspire, teach, protest…), but they can’t talk," she said. "By documenting quilts with photos, writing, video, and labeling, quilters ensure that their quilt’s history is preserved and accessible for family members, historians, quilters of the future, and anyone who seeks to learn from these historic documents."

In one of the most powerful and meaningful Go Tell It videos in the collection, Heather Kinion candidly discusses making this mini quilt during the aftermath of a miscarriage. The video showcases the way quilts can help us heal in times of trauma. 

Quilt Alliance staff often travel to quilt shows around the country to capture Go Tell It videos with quilters displaying their work. The video above with Sarah Bond about how her modern quilt relates to her family quilting history is a great example.

And here, Thomas Knauer passionately discusses his quilt and its relation to mass-produced quilts sold cheaply. The importance of making a quilt by hand is on full display! 

The Quilt Alliance is one of five nonprofits Suzy Quilts is donating to in 2022. Learn more about their important mission to preserve quilt stories! #quilting

Running Stitch Podcast

Hosted by renowned quilt historian Janneken Smucker, Professor of History at West Chester University, the Running Stitch podcast is now in its third season. Each episode of the podcast includes excerpts from the more than 1,200 QSOS oral history interviews in the Quilt Alliance collection, plus interviews with quilters today. It's the perfect thing to listen to while you're quilting! 

Suzy Quilts readers might be particularly interested in listening to the following episodes, which can be found on the Running Stitch website or in your favorite podcast app:

The Quilt Alliance is one of five nonprofits Suzy Quilts is donating to in 2022. Learn more about their important mission to preserve quilt stories! #quilting

Quilters Take a Moment Annual Event

Prior to the pandemic, the Quilt Alliance hosted a regular event called Quilters Take Manhattan. This in-person event included panel discussions, live oral history recordings, tours of museums with quilt collections, and fun events like group trips to Broadway musicals. But in 2020, this nimble organization had to pivot and transform Quilters Take Manhattan into a virtual event.

Quilters Take a Moment was born! This fully virtual event has featured speakers like Bisa Butler, Anna Maria Horner, and more. Suzy Quilts was proud to be a Quilters Take a Moment sponsor last year.

For updates on this year's event, including a virtual exhibit, workshops, panels discussions, and keynote speakers, follow the Quilt Alliance on Facebook or Instagram, and check the QTM 2022 website. This year's event will take place September 13-18. 

The Quilt Alliance is one of five nonprofits Suzy Quilts is donating to in 2022. Learn more about their important mission to preserve quilt stories! #quilting

Virtual Quilt Exhibits

Collecting and preserving quilt stories is important work, but sharing those stories and ensuring that they are broadly available to anyone who wants to learn is crucial. That's why, in addition to all of the other programs and initiatives the Quilt Alliance leads, the team curates virtual quilt exhibits each year since 2020. The core virtual exhibit team includes me, Executive Director Amy Milne, and Project Manager Emma Parker.

In those exhibits, you'll find interpretive labels just like you would in a museum exhibit. But there's so much more! Each quilt is accompanied by one of the Quilt Alliance's Go Tell It videos so you can hear directly from the quiltmaker, collector, or historian. Links to further reading and resources are also available so you can take a deep dive into each quilt exhibited. Each exhibit is like receiving a private exhibit tour from your home!

You can see the 2020 virtual exhibit "Known & Unknown: Revealing Quilt Stories" here, and the 2021 exhibit "Warm Remembrances: Quiltmaking and Memory Making" here. The team is already hard at work on the 2022 exhibit, which focuses on personal, creative, and environmental sustainability. 

30th Anniversary Celebration

In 2023, the Quilt Alliance celebrates its 30th anniversary, and there are even more fun and educational opportunities on the horizon! 

Executive Director Amy Milne said, "Our anniversary year celebration is all about returning to our roots—grassroots! The QSOS oral history project will be re-opened for public submission and there will be lots of ways volunteers can adopt this interview project in their community. And we can’t wait to launch a special anniversary year Block-of-the-Month project with some of our dearest friends in the quilt world."

Your quilt story matters and deserves to be shared, preserved, and researched in the future. How will you document your quilts? 

To stay up to date on all the latest work being done by the Quilt Alliance and information about the upcoming anniversary Block-of-the-Month (the announcement about how to join is coming later this year with a target January 2023 start date), follow the Quilt Alliance on Facebook or Instagram

And become a Quilt Alliance member here for as little as $30 a year to stay even more connected!

The Quilt Alliance is one of five nonprofits Suzy Quilts is donating to in 2022. Learn more about their important mission to preserve quilt stories! #quilting

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