Quilting with Purpose: The Saint Mark Sew and Sews

This story is written in memory of Donna Lind, a longtime member of the Sew and Sews who passed away in 2021.

Chris, Nancy L., and Nancy E.

About four years ago, women from St. Mark Lutheran Church started a group to make quilts for local nonprofits to distribute to the individuals and families that they serve. Since then, they have donated handmade quilts to Rock House Kids, Mosaic and Remedies. One year they gave 35 quilts to Rockford Rescue Mission. They’ve partnered with Habitat every year by making quilts for every single member of Habitat’s partner families. These women call their group the Sew and Sews, and they use their love for sewing and quilting to impact the community in incredibly meaningful ways. We had the chance to sit down and talk with a few members of the Sew and Sews about what they do and why.

For Nancy Leonard, sewing and quilting have been a part of her life for a long time.

“My grandmother and my mother were both sewers and quilters, so I grew up in the quilting world. But I never did a single solitary quilt until I joined here,” she said. She enjoys using her talents to care for others in her community.

“I have been blessed throughout my life, and it’s my way of giving back. I’m a retired home care nurse, and I have been in homes where there has been very little,” she said. “So when I see this going to people than can use it, that’s what it’s all about.”

Nancy Eckburg shares a similar connection to sewing—she’s even passed along her passion for sewing to her granddaughters.

“I have always loved to sew. I always wanted to learn to sew. I would take my doll to my grandma, and she would make a full outfit for my doll,” she said, smiling as she remembered. “I sewed all the way through high school. I had 4H and HomeEc, and then when I was in nursing school I kept sewing when I had time. I even taught for awhile at JoAnn Fabrics. I just love sewing, and I taught my granddaughters to sew on a machine.”

Chris Allen’s involvement in the Sew and Sews started with a t-shirt quilt.

“I call my sister-in-law the quilting queen. She’s the one that taught me how to do everything. I sewed in high school—I used to make clothes,” she said. She took a break from sewing for awhile, until she wanted to make a t-shirt quilt for her son.

“My sister-in-law was quilting, so she helped me, and then I just kind of fell in love with it. It’s just a way to give. Doing something I like to do, and still being able to help people out,” Chris said.

Nancy presenting Tracey, a Habitat homebuyer, with quilts at Tracey’s home dedication in 2021.

There’s about seven members of the Sew and Sews, and together they’ve made custom quilts for somewhere around 20 Habitat home dedications. Depending on the complexity of the design, one quilt can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to complete, which means that the Sew and Sews have given literally hundreds—even thousands– of hours toward making quilts for Habitat homebuyers and their families.

We truly cannot thank the Sew and Sews enough for their ongoing dedication to Habitat and its mission. We also want to remember and celebrate Donna Lind, who passed away in September of 2021. Donna was involved in the Sew and Sews since the group began and was always passionate about teaching and sharing her love for sewing and quilting with others. She was dedicated to serving her community, and her legacy will continue to impact many lives in countless ways.

To learn more or get involved with the Sew and Sews, please contact us and we will connect you with the group. They meet twice a month, and all are welcome to attend meetings and help with quilting at any time.

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