Operation Smiley, Update 2

The first completed #OperationSmiley quilt top

Hi again, Friends and Fighters!

We officially have too many #OperationSmiley quilt blocks for me to hang on my design wall. Last week, I had 91 hanging, but we’re at 129 and counting now! Over 30 quilters have participated from over a dozen states, and at least four of them are adult cancer survivors.

129 quilt blocks all in a stack. It’s a thick stack!

As you found out on Friday, we are benefitting from the generosity of several companies as well. In addition to the beautiful fabric from Fat Quarter Shop, we are receiving thread from Aurifil, some batting from The Warm Company, and more batting and fabric from Craftsy. On top of that, my friends over at Red Hen Fabrics are going to help me get all 7+ quilts quilted. Isn’t that exciting?!

This means a few things for #OperationSmiley:

1) We will be finishing these quilts with beautiful, top-of-the-line materials.

2) Instead of delivering finished quilts the end of this week in time for Kylie’s birthday, it will probably be another month until they are all done. Materials are still en route, and we will be completing more quilts than I expected (which is a thrilling thing).

3) I will try to have a completed quilt (see quilt top above) to take with me to Quilt Con in Savannah this weekend to show our sponsors and to spread the word about Quilts for Cure.

I cannot thank y’all enough for your generosity and support!!

90+ Heart Blocks on my Design Wall

Action Items:

1) Visit the Smiley for Kylie page this week and leave a Happy Birthday for Kylie. On Friday, be sure to wear yellow and #shareasmile in her honor.

2) Do the #TruckerToughChallenge on Facebook or Instagram to show support for sweet Trucker Dukes. He is in a lot of pain and needs our encouragement!

3) Make sure that you’re plugged in for all Quilts for Cure Updates: Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Instagram, and Sign up for our Newsletter (coming soon). Even better, invite your friends to get plugged in, too. Our mission to honor and encourage kids with cancer will only succeed if we all work together.

Keep fighting,

HollyAnne

Friday Allies: Fat Quarter Shop

Six 5-yard cuts of gorgeous fabric

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Today I’m announcing yet another blog series! “Friday Allies” posts will appear when we have a sponsor that we want to highlight so you know about the cool companies that are joining us in our war against childhood cancer. This week, five companies have agreed to help us with the supplies and labor necessary to finish the #OperationSmiley quilts.

Kimberly Jolly (Photo credit: Where Women Create Magazine article)

This afternoon, I’d like to introduce you to  Fat Quarter Shop. I ran across them pretty early in my quilting, and if my LQS (local quilt shop) doesn’t have a particular fabric, Fat Quarter Shop is my next stop. FQS is an online-only shop owned by Kimberly Jolly and her husband, Kevin. I’ve been consistently impressed by their customer service, so I reached out asking if they would be willing to donate fabric for borders, backing, and binding on the #OperationSmiley Quilts.

The very next morning there was a generous YES in my inbox to my requested 30 YARDS of fabric, and an inquiry about which fabrics I’d like. Today, I did a happy dance as I pulled out six fat 5-yard cuts of navy fabrics. Thank you, Kimberly, Kevin, and the  Fat Quarter Shop Team for your generosity toward our effort!

Ultimate Happy Mail Moment

I’ll post a more thorough #OperationSmiley update next week and continue highlighting our sponsors as their donations arrive, but go ahead and jump up and down because the current heart block count is 129– that’s 6.5 quilts! Woohoo!

Action Items:

1) Visit the Fat Quarter Shop on Instagram or Facebook and tell them THANK YOU!

2) Connect with Quilts for Cure on Instagram and Facebook

3) If your company is interested in sponsoring the work we’re doing at Quilts for Cure, please have them email john (at) quiltsforcure.org. We are actively pursuing 501(c)(3) status.

Remember to be smiley like Kylie this weekend and love those around you well.

HollyAnne

Operation Smiley Update

My Friends,

Today (February 13th at writing) is important. Today marks two years since Smiley Kylie’s battle against metastatic bone cancer ended. She has been missed and loved every day that has passed.

Today is also important because I have an amazing update about #OperationSmiley— our maiden project here at Quilts for Cure, and a project that we created to celebrate Kylie’s 15th birthday on the 24th.

 

There are 82 hearts on the design wall in my sewing room right now– so many that it’s hard to photograph them properly! 82 hearts is over 4 quilts. And, if I’ve kept track correctly, there’s about 2 more quilts of blocks still en route. AMAZING. Thank you, dear quilters!!

This weekend and again today, I had the pleasure of stitching heart blocks with  about a dozen high schoolers. On Saturday, I met with three girls whom I love dearly, and we worked in pairs to make two blocks. Today, I went to their school for art club, and the students made five more blocks. Part of the way through the class one of the girls and I realized we knew each other– because she was a nature study student of mine in Kylie’s grade. What a special way to spend Kylie’s home-going-versary– with one of her friends.

Action Items:

    1) Make a heart. It’s not too late– the response to #OperationSmiley has been so breathtaking, that I suspect I’ll be finishing quilts into March. Furthermore, I’ll keep finishing heart blocks into quilts as long as the hearts keep coming.
    2) We need fabric and batting to finish the quilts (we have a thread sponsor who I will announce in due time). I’ve reached out to several companies, but if you have any connections within the quilting world that could donate supplies to meet this need, please ask them to email me at hollyanne (at) quiltsforcure.org.
    3) Connect with us via social media– @quiltsforcure on Facebook and Instagram.
    Hugs to all,
    HollyAnne

Friday Fighter: 3-year old Trucker Dukes

Happy Friday, fellow fighters!

Each week, we celebrate and cheer for someone who is fighting with everything they have against childhood cancer. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Trucker Dukes, a darling three year old who is fighting for his life against Neuroblastoma. I “met” Trucker via Facebook last week, and my heart melted. I can’t wait to make the Hawaii “E Pluribus Unum Project” quilt so I can write this sweet little man’s name in BIG LETTERS so that everyone who sees it will know that Trucker is a tough, amazing fighter!

Here’s an excerpt from his Facebook page:

“Trucker Dukes, the youngest son of Maui fire fighter Joshua Dukes and Maui jewelry maker Shauna Dukes, was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that has spread to 50% of his body. The 3 year old has an older sister and two older brothers.

“A few months before I took him to the doctor he had a fever for a week,” Shauna said. “His molars were coming in, so I thought, ‘Man, he’s just a fussy teether.’ Later, we found out that it is really common for neuroblastoma patients to have a fever.” Trucker’s fever and irritability returned a few weeks later and Shauna’s mom noticed that his stomach looked distended.
Shauna took him to the pediatrician that morning on November 24, 2014.

“He also had a little black eye, and the doctor asked how he got it. I didn’t know. Now in retrospect, I know that black eyes are signs of neuroblastoma, and I think that is what alerted the doctor.” Shauna continues, “I expected her to say, ‘He has an infection, go home, here are some antibiotics.’” Instead, Shauna was told he had a big mass in his stomach and more tests on Oahu were needed. A low hemoglobin count required a blood transfusion on Maui. “I feel like I haven’t really woke up from the nightmare ever since.”

 

Trucker was treated first in Hawaii and then in New York City. He is currently back home in Hawaii with his family being treated with prayer, good nutrition, and lots of love to improve his quality of life for as long as possible.

Trucker has been named an honorary Maui firefighter. His precious oath reads:

“I, Trucker, Honorary Firefighter for the County of Maui, Department of Fire and Public Safety, do solumnly swear on this 14th day of December, 2015, to fight hard against cancer, to love my parents, family, and friends, to continue to be as strong and brave as I have been for the past year, to light up the lives of everyone around me with my smile and laugh, and to never lose my hope or my spirit, so help me God.”

Please say a prayer for Trucker as his fight continues and his pain has increased again. You can also post your best tough face on Facebook and tag it #truckertoughchallenge to encourage Trucker Boy. Here’s mine:

Take ACTION for Trucker and other Fighters:

1) Like Team Trucker on Facebook and join the #TruckerToughChallenge to encourage the Dukes family

2) Like Quilts for Cure on Facebook to stay up to date on our work

3) Make a heart quilt block for #OperationSmiley this weekend using our easy tutorial. We’re up to 52 blocks (nearly 3 quilts); please help us make even more for Smiley Kylie’s upcoming birthday.

Hug your dear ones extra tight tonight,

HollyAnne

All images courtesy of the Team Trucker Facebook Page.

Friday Fighter : Kylie Myers

Happy Friday, Friends!

Welcome to the inaugural Friday Fighter post of the Quilts for Cure blog! Each week, I’ll introduce you to someone who is fighting against childhood cancer with everything he or she has– whether a child who is fighting for his or her life, a parent fighting for their child, or folks like us who are liaisons and cheerleaders. Our common denominator? We all believe, as today’s fighter did, that “cancer should die and not the kids.”

Kylie Myers was a surprise to her family and a joy to all of us who were blessed to know her. I knew her as a first and second grader, with gaps in her smile where her baby teeth had fallen out. She was like walking sunshine.

Here is a little snippet of her story and impact in her Daddy’s words:

“SmileyForKylie was named after 12 year-old Kylie Myers. She was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma on April 9th, 2014. After we cried and prayed together, she said, “God must have a great, big plan for me.”

We wish God’s plan included earthly healing, but sadly, it did not. Kylie beat cancer for good on Feb 13th, 2015. We will miss her every day. Before she passed, she gave her family a charge to kill childhood cancer so no other child would have to endure what she went through.

Kylie’s radiance was easy to see all of her life. She showed it constantly with her warm and beautiful smile. She loved being on stage and had an enormous presence that belied her small frame. It is easy to see why she was always called ‘Smiley Kylie.'”

Kylie loved all things creative. The stage was her happy place, but she also enjoyed knitting. When I first approached Mark (Kylie’s daddy) about Quilts for Cure, he said that he was sure Kylie would have loved quilting. She didn’t have the opportunity to quilt, but she was given a number of quilts while she was sick, and we donate our quilts in her honor to continue to share her joy with other Fighters.

You’ll hear lots more about beautiful Kylie as we continue sharing her joy, but I hope you enjoyed this overview! Today, I have a couple of easy steps for you to join us:

1) Like Quilts for Cure and Smiley for Kylie on Facebook

2) Follow Quilts for Cure and Smiley for Kylie on Instagram

3) Revisit our Operation Smiley blog from Wednesday, and commit to making at least one heart block this weekend, even if you don’t consider yourself a “quilter” or “crafty.” 604 families will receive the devastating news of childhood cancer between February 1st and Valentine’s Day (the 14th). Do you think we can make 12,080 heart blocks so that every one of those families can have a quilt? Because I think we can!

Spread joy today,
HollyAnne

    PS This video is a precious part of Kylie’s stories, too, told in her mama’s words.

Operation Smiley

Welcome to Quilts for Cure!

I (HollyAnne) will be posting over the next couple of weeks about exactly who we are and what we are doing, but, for now, let me give you an overview: We are a (soon to be) nonprofit that exists to raise awareness about childhood cancer, provide every child in the US being treated for cancer with a quilt, and to fundraise for CURE Childhood Cancer’s research programs so that kids can have safer, more effective treatments. In many ways, Quilts for Cure is a bridge and a network, connecting quilters with families who desperately need the encouragement and generosity I see and admire in the quilting community.

We have launched our first campaign: Operation Smiley. When I was in high school, I was teacher assistant to a beautiful girl named Kylie Myers (pictured above). Several years later, right about the time Hubster and I moved back to Atlanta after getting married, Kylie was diagnosed with bone cancer, the same bone cancer her best friend Bailey had just beaten. We didn’t know it then, but Kylie only had about 10 months left to make us all smile while on earth. She kept smiling through her fight, and when she struggled, the amazing Smiley for Kylie community smiled for her. Now, as Kylie’s 15th birthday arrives on February 24th, we are going to spread smiles in her honor to kids fighting cancer now.

Who: All quilters, aspiring quilters, crafty people, or anyone willing to give a bit of cutting and sewing a try

What: 10″ Cluck Cluck Sew Heart Blocks in white, navy, and/or yellow

When: In the mail by February 14th (Valentine’s Day)

Where: Mail your block(s) to: Quilts for Cure PO Box 1831 Duluth, GA 30096

Goal: I will assemble each 20 blocks into a 4×5 quilt top and complete as many as possible in time to take them down to CURE Childhood Cancer for Kylie’s birthday. CURE will distribute them to kids in treatment in Atlanta-area hospitals. How many quilts do you think we can make together?

Tag: @quiltsforcure #quiltsforcure #operationsmiley #morethan4 #curechildhoodcancer @stringandstory @smileyforkylie

As I planned this campaign, I started thinking:

What if someone doesn’t quilt but wants to participate? What if folks want their kids to get involved, but don’t have a sewing machine? What if a class of students wants to make a quilt together? Or a valentine’s party?

So, I reached out to Allison over at Cluck Cluck Sew and asked her permission to write a tutorial using her pattern, and she said YES! Yay!

HOW TO MAKE AN OPERATION SMILE HEART BLOCK WITH STUFF IN YOUR HOUSE:

Heart Block Materials

 

Materials:

2, 1/4 yard cuts of fabric (1/2 yard total; choose two of the following colors: yellow, navy, white; This should only cost $5-6, less if you use a coupon or catch a sale, and each pair of fabrics makes 2 heart blocks)

1 cereal/cracker box (at least 10.5×5.5 inches) per person

Ruler

Pencil

Pair of Scissors

Sewing Needles, thread, straight pins (if you don’t have a little mending kit, you can buy one as shown for about $5 when you buy your fabric)

Iron/ironing board (not shown; Please be careful when ironing; Parents, you may want to do the ironing steps for your kids, depending on their age)

Before you jump in, read all the way through the directions. It will be easier that way. 🙂

Step 1: Press your fabric. It will be wrinkly from being folded on the bolt at the store, and we want it nice and smooth.

 

Step 2: Make your templates. Use the ruler and pencil to make three shapes: 10.5 inches x 5.5 inches, 5.5 inches x 5.5 inches, and 2 inches x 2 inches. Cut them out.

 

Step 3: Trace the templates on your fabric using the pencil (a wooden pencil will be easier than mechanical). You need TWO 10.5×5.5″ rectangles, TWO 5.5×5.5 inch squares, and FOUR 2×2 inch squares. Trace the rectangles on a DIFFERENT color than the squares. Cut out your shapes.

 

Step 4: Lay pieces right sides (the darker colored sides) together as shown. It’s hard to tell with the white, but the FRONT of the rectangles is face-up, and the BACK of the squares is face-up, so the fronts are touching. This is probably the trickiest step because it’s counterintuitive.

 

Step 5: Use the ruler and pencil to draw your stitching lines corner to corner on the squares as shown. Pin pieces together so they don’t move around while you sew. You can see the heart shape start to emerge.

 

Step 6: Sew along the pencil lines. Try to keep your stitches small (about 1/8th – 1/4th of an inch) so that they stay secure. Knot your thread before you cut it at the end, too. As you get going, you can put several stitches on the needle at a time before you pull your thread thru, as I did here.

 

Step 7: Trim away excess fabric 1/4 inch from the OUTSIDE of your stitching. 

 

Step 8: Use the iron to gently press your fabric open so all right (front) sides are facing up, as shown. 

Step 9: Repeat Steps 6, 7, and 8 with the other half of your heart block. 

 

Step 10: Lay the two halves of your heart blocks right (front) sides together, draw a 1/4 inch sewing line as before, and pin along the center of the heart as shown. Be extra careful to line up the top heart point, where I’ve drawn an arrow. 

Step 11: Stitch along the drawn sewing line. 

 

Step 12: Use the iron to press the block flat with the seam to one side as shown. Ta da! You did it!

Isn’t that fun? It doesn’t take long at all, costs very little money, and you, my friend, are contributing to making a child with cancer (and his or her parents) smile and feel loved. If you like, include your name and social media handle in a note when you mail me your block(s), and I’ll tag you in pictures of the final quilt!

Remember, Valentine’s Day is coming, and I think this would be a fabulous party/event craft for upper elementary or middle school kids. If you’re worried about the time it might take, you could cut and pin the fabric ahead of time, and just have them sew along the lines. If you send a group of blocks from an event, mention that in a note, and I’ll be sure to include them all in the same quilt, so they can see the finished product after it’s quilted! A few blocks would also make a lovely family service project one evening or weekend. About 16,000 kids are diagnosed in the US each year, and about 40,000 are in treatment– I think it’s so special that your kids could help these kids feel encouraged.

Last but not least, I’d like to announce the launch of the Quilts for Cure Newsletter, Facebook and Instagram accounts! Please sign up, like, and follow us to stay up to date on this project and others to follow. There are 1000x as many quilters in this country as kids that will be diagnosed with cancer this year. That’s truly a village for every child, so let’s work together to be that village of encouragers!

Thank you for joining forces with us to pursue Kylie’s vision: “For cancer to die, and not the kids.” And until cancer dies, we are going to love and cheer on these kids!

Love,

HollyAnne