Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Record sales of $62,000 at IQF Houston

No wonder it took me a week to recover!! The numbers are in! The AAQI sold 1,141 Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts during International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX, raising the most money ever during the four and a half day quilt show. This was the sixth year the AAQI was invited to display and sell Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts by IQF founder and director Karey Bresenhan. Brooke and John Flynn, from Billings, Montana, again sponsored the booth. Thank you, quilt makers, quilt buyers, sponsors, and volunteers. Click here to see a list of all the quilts that sold at IQF Houston. Click here to see more than 500 quilts for sale. They make great gifts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Another Addition to My PQ Collection!

This is the second quilt that I purchased in Houston at the International Quilt Festival this year.  It was made by Ellen White of St. Augustine, FL and the artist statement reads:  "I bought the hand dyed, fused fabric shapes from Frieda Anderson some time ago.  As I was looking for something to inspire me to make my quilt this month, the cut-out circles reminded me of all the lost items and memories that disappeared as Alzheimer's took over my Mom's brain."  Ellen lost her mom 5 years ago.  I lost my dad nearly a year ago (it doesn't seem possible that it's been that long already!) and like Ellen, I miss him every day.

This quilt kept poking me from across the room.  Not in a literal sense, but every time I looked up from the check out table it caught my eye.  I decided to let fate have her way and since it was still there at the end of the day I decided it was meant to come home with me.  Thanks Ellen, for making this quilt for AAQI -  I just love all the bright colors and the fun way you used Frieda's fabrics!

If you are so moved and would like to make a quilt for us, all the instructions can be found here: How to make a Priority Quilt 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AAQI Takes Over Houston IQF!

This is a quilt by Fannie Narte that I purchased in Houston this year. It leapt off the walls into my arms and I knew it had to come home with me. It's called "Broken Wings" and the artist statement reads as follows: "This is a hand painted quilt with two borders made from commercial cotton fabrics. It's embellished with beads, hand embroidery and it is machine quilted. If you study the design of this quilt, you will see images of yellow butterflies with broken wings. If you drop a glass cup onto a cement floor, chances are that it will break into many pieces. When someone experiences life-altering changes, a good one-word description of how that person may feel is "broken." I think that an Alzheimer's patient and every family member of that Alzheimer's patient may feel broken. What was once whole and is now shattered into pieces is "broken." "Broken Wings" was inspired by these feelings."

Fannie was able to come spend the day in the booth with us at IQF on Saturday which was a wonderful thing for all of us.  She's such a sweet gentle soul just filled to the brim with inspiration!

I absolutely LOVE the quilt and will proudly add it to my ever growing collection of Priority Quilts. Now to get them all on the walls of my studio one day!

I consider being in Houston with this amazing group of women each fall to be one of the highlights of my year. It's the most difficult thing I do and at the same time, it's the most fulfilling thing that I do. This year I was struck by the number of times the exact right buyer found the exact right quilt for the exact right reason. There is a higher power at work here, and I'm so glad it can flow through our hands and hearts and into yours.  I am proud to be a part of this organization.

The following is a press release from AAQI and it gives the results from the celebrity quilt auction this year.  What fabulous quilts - I had the awesome job of hanging them on the display each day when we set up the booth.  It was great to see them so up close and personal!

(Burton, Michigan) -- November 29, 2011: The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative’s (AAQI) third annual celebrity quilt auction raised a record breaking $14,025 for the nonprofit. This year’s theme was the "Stanley Cup Quilt-Off." Twelve quilters in two teams competed for bragging rights, the highest selling quilt earning its maker the MVP award. The Feed Dogs team members were Alex Anderson, Hollis Chatelain, John Flynn, Becky Goldsmith, Renae Haddadin, and Sue Nickels. The Rotary Blades members were Caryl Bryer Fallert, Pat Holly, Libby Lehman, Judy Mathieson, Mary Sorensen, and Ricky Tims. Hollis Chatelain raised $2,570 with her quilt "Hollow," (shown above) a 16" x 16" thread-painted, machine quilted image of a woman's face which earned her the coveted MVP award. This is the third year in a row her quilt earned top dollar in the charity auction. A Viewer's Choice component to the "Stanley Cup Quilt-Off" was also offered at International Quilt Festival in Houston and online. Each $1.00 donation was counted as one vote, raising an additional $2,277.26 overall. Profits from sales of earrings made with images of each of the 12 auction quilts brought in $1,025, bringing the total for the event to $17,327.26. High and low resolution images of the twelve quilts are available at: http://www.alzquilts.org/scphotos.html . The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative is a national, grassroots organization whose mission is to raise awareness and fund research. "Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" (a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's) and the Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilt project are two of its efforts. The AAQI has raised more than $679,000 for Alzheimer’s research since January 2006. Ami Simms of Flint, Michigan is the founder and executive director of AAQI, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Her mother had Alzheimer’s.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

AAQI Sends 1500 Quilts to Houston!

We asked for 1,500 quilts and WE GOT THEM---thanks to all our wonderful quilter volunteers! Check it out! We will be selling your quilts at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX, Nov 2-6. You'll find us in the Exhibit Hall, Row T, up at the front of the room.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is in a position to break all previous sales records in its history, thanks to your efforts.

Now all we have to do is SELL THOSE QUILTS! We need your help to do that. Share the video. Send it everywhere you can think of. For those of you who have quilts going to Houston here are ALL the quilts that will be offered for sale in Houston: http://www.alzquilts.org/houston.html Follow the AAQI FaceBook page for numbers of quilts sold and videos (maybe) from the show floor starting November 2. If you're going to be at Festival, please stop by and say hello!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

To Honor Our Loved Ones

World Alzheimer's Day is Wednesday September 21st. Please change your FaceBook profile picture to a photograph of a person who has/had Alzheimer's that you wish to honor and remember on September 21st and always. Please include this statement in your status update: I support the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative at www.AlzQuilts.org If you make a $5 donation (below) to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative before midnight on Wednesday post the invoice number generated by your donation to the AAQI FaceBook Page*, we will capture the image of your loved one from your profile picture and add it to the 2011 AAQI Virtual Wall of Remembrance where it will remain for one year. Names will not accompany photographs. If you are not on FaceBook, or wish to make multiple donations to honor more than one person, email one photograph of each of your loved ones and the invoice number generated by your donation ($5 per photograph) to Diane at diane456@gmail.com. Pictures may be cropped and sized to fit the wall. As it is somewhat time consuming to snag and post your profile picture, please do not change it until you see it appear on the "wall" on the AAQI Update Blog. It may take several days to keep up! We'll do our best. *If you've never been there before, you may have to click the "LIKE" button. What's not to like?!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sewing With Nancy Link to Nancy's Corner

Here's the link to the segment that I did on Nancy Zieman's Sewing with Nancy for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative: http://video.wpt2.org/video/2096722168/ I look pretty calm, cool and collected . . . totally amazing!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I'm on Sewing With Nancy!!

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative volunteer Beth Hartford was an a guest on Sewing With Nancy, program #2505 – Art Quilts – Fusible Collage Workshop (a 2-part series with Frieda Anderson and Laura Wasilowski.) It was taped back in January and will be made available to PBS stations beginning on September 11 of this year.

Contact your local PBS station and ask them when they will air this show. Contact information can be found here: http://www.nancysnotions.com/jump.do?itemID=5&itemType=LANDING&page=pbslisting

Beth spoke about Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope, the AAQI's new traveling exhibit which has been touring the United states since March. She has a quilt in the traveling exhibit.

Beth shared several Name Quilts on camera as well as some Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts, inviting quilters everywhere to thread their needles and help us fight Alzheimer's.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative wishes to thank Nancy Zieman for this opportunity to share our mission to raise awareness and fund Alzheimer's research with a wider audience. And, we especially want to congratulate Beth Hartford on her first television appearance!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Heartbreak to Hope" Exhibit Comes to Quilt Expo!

"Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" continues its five-year journey across the United States with a stop at Quilt Expo, September 8-10. The exhibit will hang in Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Show hours are 9am to 6pm daily.
For more information, please contact call 866-297-6545 or email wiquiltexpo@wpt.org.

"Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" is an exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's sponsored by the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). Fifty-four small format art quilts (9" x 12") illustrate the disease from a variety of perspectives. They hang among 182 "Name Quilts," each 6 inches wide and 7 feet tall, which carry the names of more than 10,000 individuals who have/had Alzheimer's or a related dementia. The names of loved ones, written on fabric patches by family members and friends, honor the 5.4 million Americans in the United States struggling with Alzheimer's disease.

Ami Simms, AAQI Founder and Executive Director will present "Quilting & Caring: The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative" at 8:30am on Friday, September 9th in the Waubesa WA room on the second floor. Tickets available here.

"Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" is exhibited at Quilt Expo through the generous support of Wisconsin Public Television, Nancy Zieman Productions, and the Professional Art Quilt Alliance (PAQA).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Three NEW Priority Quilts

I've been "on a tear" making Priority Quilts lately. Having the studio set up so that I can just go and start creating is very freeing! I can have my machines set up to perform a function and just move from one to the next as I need them. Anyway, the first one here is made from a purchased panel that was colored by my sister in law, Mary, and then cut apart and put back together with this cute print. This one is #7564.

The other two are from a dresser scarf that I purchased at an estate sale last summer, both nearly identical, but I've been perfecting my piping technique and really like the way it brings something extra to the quilts.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


August 2011 Auction Quilts

August Online MEGA Auction!

From August 1-10 the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) will be offering 20 quilts that were part of the "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece" exhibit in an online auction like no other.

Quilts made by Sue Nickels, Diane Gaudynski, Marsha McCloskey, Nancy Brenan Daniel, Melody Crust, Mary Stori, Elsie Campbell, Debbie Bowles and others will be auctioned. This is a rare opportunity to acquire quilts by nationally acclaimed quilters who rarely sell their work.

Own a quilt from the exhibit that has touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people nationwide.

Bidding begins August 1st. Preview all twenty quilts now. As always, all profits fund Alzheimer's research.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Island Batik Donates $25,000 to AAQI!!

Hold onto your hats!

I know whose fabric I'll be looking for in the future!

Moira and Adam Dewar of Island Batik, Inc. have donated $25,386.00 to the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative!

This is our largest donation to date. As in EVER!

Moira and Adam have been proud supporters of the AAQI through the Rose of Sharon project and have donated fabric for “Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope.” But this! OH MY GOODNESS!!!

Adam said, “We are very happy to give this money to the AAQI. We think they are doing fantastic work.”

We are ecstatic! Jump-up-and-down happy! Over the moon! THANK YOU!

There are an estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s. One in eight people age 65 has the disease. Right now. If you are a Baby Boomer, your age cohort is turning 65 at the rate of between 7,000 and 10,000 people a day. Chances are high that you will spend your retirement years either struggling with this vile disease yourself or taking care of someone who is.

Let Island Batik’s commitment to fighting Alzheimer’s be a challenge to every quilting industry leader to support the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. We fund research directly. 100% of the money that funds “our” research goes to budget, nothing to overhead. Our organization is run by volunteers and we spend zero money on fundraising. We are quilters doing what we love to do and making a difference. HELP US!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Priority Quilt: The Imperial Irish

As you may or may not know, I am the Quilt Registrar for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. What that means is that anyone who makes a quilt for AAQI has to fill out a form that is emailed to me. I then assign that quilt a number, format a reply to the maker, build a webpage for that quilt and send the registration back to the maker. Last month we had a record 316 quilts registered! It was crazy! Well, I thought it was a "one hit wonder" and figured once I was through that, things would slow down a little. WRONG! In the first 4 (yes FOUR!) days of June, I've already received over 100 NEW registrations. Could this be another record breaker? Sure seems like it!

Well, after sitting at my computer for what felt like (and actually was) hours on end yesterday, being hit by wave after wave of creativity from these quilt registrations, I thought if I didn't do something creative for myself I might just go a little bonkers! Mind you, I don't get to see the acutal quilts, I'm just reading the descriptions and dedications from the quiltmakers! The actual quilt gets sent to my sister and once she creates a picture, she puts it up on the website page. That process takes a couple of weeks at least.

So anyway, I decided a break was in order and went down to my beautiful new studio (see the studio posts). I looked around and picked up some things that were laying out with no intended purpose. The first thing I saw was this dog fabric that my sister-in-law had put fusible on and cut out, but not used. Wow. Great start!

Looking for a background, I saw some bits and pieces left over from another quilt that were then ends of rows not large enough to be used in that project. By re-sewing some and cutting down the block size, I was able to make 8 smaller blocks which I sewed together to make a background for the dog. I also had a panel of doggy sayings that were cut up, waiting to be used, and this one sure seemed to fit the look of that dog! And so, The Imperial Irish was born.

A quick border, a little machine applique, some stippling, binding and a label, and within 2 hours I had a Priority Quilt of my own to register. I still have to do the hand sewing on the binding, but I can turn it over to my sister tomorrow when I see her. A very small time investment that can raise funds to fight Alzheimer's Disease, which took my Dad away from us last December, and long before that.

Please consider making a contibution of your own. They don't have to be masterpieces, as you can see. This quilt was all made up from things that otherwise might have ended up in a scrap bin and never used.

Check it out here: Priority Quilt

One of my last Priority Quilts, Dare to be Different, #6438 is available for sale here on the Quilts for Sale page.

And I am happy to say that Doggie Diaries (see last post) sold and earned $50 for AAQI! Thank you so much to whoever bought it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Doggie Diaries

As promised, here is a scan of my latest Priority Quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. It's called Doggie Diaries and is made from a panel that was donated to us in Houston last year.

This is the one that I stipple quilted with the feather stitch setting on my machine (I didn't realize it at the time), and as I was stitching I thought it looked a bit odd, but chalked it up to the twisted thread. Can you tell I was tired after a "working" weekend with my sisters and mom?

Here is a close-up of the quilting - the thread really does make it difficult to see the stitching well.

Anyway, I'm happy with the way it turned out, and I am sure someone will love to become its new owner. This one is #6955 on the
Quilts Waiting For Assignment page.

Mom's Priority Quilt #6885 from the previous post is now up here: F-f-f-fish.

Mary's can be seen here: Off Kilter, here: Wag Your Tail and here: Mischief Maker. Not all of the pictures are up yet, but check back - they are adorable! Alright - here's a sneak preview of Mischief Maker . . .

My last Priority Quilt, Dare to be Different, #6438 is available for sale here on the Quilts for Sale page.

Help me inch closer to reaching my $1000 promise!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Christening . . .

Of the new studio, of course!

The girls (my mom, sister-in-law Mary, sister Diane & I) decided to have a Priority Quilt weekend to christen my new studio space. My husband & I worked feverishly to get it close to finished in time for the gathering, and I spent a lot of time organizing and cleaning too.

This is sort of a "before" picture - before we really got into the thick of creativity and craziness . . .

This is a quilt my mom started (and finished, too!) - she wanted to do a crazy quilt, so we pulled out some crazy fabric and some of my hand dyes and started figuring out exactly how to put it together. You can see this quilt on the Quilts Waiting for Assignment page , it's #6885, the picture will be up when Diane gets to that batch of quilts to post, but the story behind it is there now.

On Monday, Diane's friend Andee (on the right, Mom on the left) joined us for the day and worked on her own creation, using some hand dyed velvet as the centerpiece. You'll have to wait a bit to see hers, as she didn't quite get finished before it was time to go. You can see Mom's finished quilt on the ironing table if you look closely - it's darling!

Here is Mary, working on her third Priority Quilt, this one will be so cute!

And finally, on Tuesday, when everyone had figured out how the machines worked and where things were in the studio, I got to work on a Priority Quilt of my own. It's not registred yet, so I don't have a number, but I will post about it soon since it is finished except for a label.

Funny tidbit about this quilt - I did some machine applique using the feather stitch, then did some tiny stippling which seemed to be going oddly, but also seemed to fit the character of the quilt. When I got all done, I realized that I had done the whole thing in free motion with the machine still set to the feather stitch! I'll try to get a picture of the quilting for you.

So here's the "after" shot, not too much mess left, but I will have to go and straighten things out a bit and put a few spools of thread away. All in all, I'd say it was a smashing success, we got lots of parts and pieces of PQ's done, and several finished to the label. Well done girls!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Studio - Design Wall & Ironing Station

So last week I finished the ironing station with some help from my sister-in-law, and today I put the bins inside the cubes. I think it will work out very well - it's the perfect height to work at standing, or the chairs I ordered can be raised to work sitting as well - nice if there are lots of parts and pieces to be ironed. The table is 5' long so even two people could easily use it at the same time. It's covered with duck cloth and a layer of batting so it's a nice firm, sturdy surface, and best of all, it's on wheels so I can move it wherever I want as long as there's an outlet nearby!

The bins and cubes are from ArtBin, they have many sizes and configurations of bins. I chose all these to be the same size as I have another bank of these in my cutting room that hold smaller items. Some of these bins have an insert that will accomodate thread cones so that they can be stored easily and dust free, plus I'll be able to see what I have at a glance.

The design wall got finished this weekend. It is made of homosote, which is essentially a pressed fiber product that you can pin into, and it's heat and fire resistant so that you can put an iron on it without issue, unlike many insulation products that many people use that are highly flammable. I covered it with white flannel because the homosote is gray and not very attractive.

I purchased this at Menard's, many home improvement stores carry it. It comes in a 4' x 8' sheet and is 1/2" thick (the picture shows two pieces together). I used the full 4' width, and had to trim each piece to 74" high because my ceilings are low in my studio. Now I have a couple of left over pieces that I could cover and use if I need a smaller surface. The beam made the perfect place to hide the light fixture that shines directly on the wall.

My wonderful husband is working on some trim as I write this, so the progress continues!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Longarm Experience

I had the opportunity recently to take a beginning longarm quilting class at The Quilting Connection in Elkhorn, Wisconsin with Sue Schmieden. It was a really fun day and we created two quilts that will be donated to a local homeless shelter and I learned a lot about longarm quilting, using Sue's amazingly clever Quick Zip System which allows the renter to get going on the machine without all the time to pin the quilt to the frame - you just zip your quilt on and go! Sue rents time on her machines so of course, I immediately rented time for the following week to finish a quilt top that had been hanging around here for at least 10 years.

It's a churn dash block, done in batiks on black. I really like this quilt, and I like it even better now that it's quilted. It took me about 4 hours to quilt this full size quilt - I can't imagine how long it would have taken on my Bernina, but I know that it would have been MUCH more difficult and MUCH more stressful!! I really enjoyed the whole experience and I am certainly going to do it again!

You can kind of see the pattern I chose, it's called "Paint Splat" (or something like that) and it was really fun to do and looks nice with all the straight lines in the quilt. I chose a bright pink thread to show off the quilting (how brave!) and it really works. The binding is a fun stripey batik - I'll post a picture when I finish hand sewing it to the back of the quilt. I think I'm going to hang this down in my new studio - it really needs some quilts on the walls!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Renovation Progress

I can't believe it, but it's been a full 6 months since I started my (simple) studio renovation. Things got stalled and so much has happened since I started this process! I think the biggest hurdle was finding the right work surfaces for the space. We talked so much about building tables, buying tables, but never actually got around to DOING anything about it. Then fall came and went, things got really busy at work, my dad got sick and passed away, Christmas came and went and still no forward progress until this past weekend! We were at Menard's and like a lightning bolt from above, I see these bench frames! Perfect! The frames are adjustable from 5' to 8', and you just buy whatever table top you want, so I got countertop, pre-cut to one 6' and two 8' lengths (would have gotten 3 8', but they only had 2) and voila! I have tables!

The boxes that are lying down are my new ironing/storage unit. The top will be covered with a 5' long piece of wood that will be covered in batting and cotton duck, the boxes hold all those bins that are stacked on the tables to hold cones of thread and fabric and whatever else I need to store. The whole thing is on wheels which makes it very handy. I have a cutting table in an adjacent room so this will just be for ironing. The wall with the black stuff hanging on it will be covered with homosote and flannel for a design wall that I can iron directly on or pin things to - behind the beam there is a bank of florescent daylight lamps that shine directly on the wall.

Won't be long now! Stay tuned for the next installment!

Monday, January 31, 2011

One World One Heart 2011

And the winners are . . . .




Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who stopped by!

UPDATE! Now that we've hit 100 comments, I will add a SECOND scarf (my choice!) to the drawing. There will be TWO lucky winners!! Way to go!


One World One Heart is a worldwide event for bloggers only. It gives all those who blog a chance to meet and mingle and form connections with those they may not have otherwise met from all over the world. In the past 4 years this event has grown to over 1,000 participants with lasting friendships (and even one love connection) formed along the way. Think of it as a GIGANTIC open house allowing you to travel without ever leaving your home........going from blog to blog(in various countries) seeing the wonder each one has created and meeting all the fabulous people behind those blogs. As a bonus each blogger participant will offer up a "door prize or prizes"....just for dropping by, saying hello and seeing their world. It's really that easy.

My give-away is pictured below, it's a silk/rayon velvet scarf hand dyed by me. The scarf measures 48" x 10" and is soft and dreamy!

The scarf has color changes throughtout. Last year I got so many comments that I ended up giving away THREE scarves, one for every 100 comments . . . . maybe we can do the same this year!! And to top it off, I won some really great prizes last year from other bloggers.

The fine print: You MUST have an active blog. You MUST leave a comment on this blog entry - and that post has to include a way I can contact you if you win. You can leave your email or you can leave your blog address (but make sure your email or contact me info is current on your blog!).

THE END - yes, all good things must end - is on February 17th - the day the winners will be posted. So the cut off for comments on my blog will be midnight on the 16th. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winners.

Please, if you like fiber art, click to "follow" this blog and come back to visit now and then! I usually post about art and I try to give some steps for each piece I post so that you can get inspiration. There's even a tutorial about snow dyeing (we're expecting a blizzard this week!) so if you're in a snow belt, check it out!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Latest Priority Quilt

Finally finished another PQ for The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative! This one was made up of things that were laying around on my cutting table and in my sewing room. I just walked around and grabbed what caught my eye and this is the result.

I took a piece of my hand dyed fabric and used that as the foundation, the stripes are from one fabric, and the leaves from another. I really liked the one strong red leaf - it reminded me of the "stand-out" in a crowd. Since losing my Dad to Alzheimer's related issues in December, red things catch my eye as his favorite color was red. He even had a red and white bathroom in one of their houses! This quilt is dedicated to Dad - he was always a bright spot in a crowd. This quilt was a challenge to myself to do something totally creative. It was “born” from bits and pieces of that were lying around my sewing area just begging to be used! I may have to do more things like this - it is a good way to use up odds and ends and be creative at the same time. Even the thread I used was the first spool that I touched when I went looking for thread to quilt it - I auditioned others, but this one was the ONE!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is the featured charity TODAY (Friday, January 28)

My Dad passed away December 14, 2010 after a 6 year battle with Alzheimer's. My sister Diane and I have been involved with the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative for the past 5 1/2 years, and I can't think of a more grass roots, completely volunteer organization that has touched my life more. PLEASE, go check out this site TODAY!! The Philanthroper

Here is Ami's story:

“My mom had Alzheimer’s...watching somebody you love disappear, one skill at a time, is really hard. I got really angry and really frustrated at the disease and I wanted to do something, but I didn’t have the skills to sit in a lab somewhere and cure it.
“But I’m a quilter.”

That’s Ami Simms, she’s a professional quilter and the founder of Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). Before you assume that quilts have nothing to do with a neurodegenerative disease, know that since 2006, working solely with unpaid volunteers operating out of their homes, the AAQI has raised over $500,000 for Alzheimer’s research.

“I thought we could raise some money making small sized quilts we could sell,” Simms explains, which is the basic principle behind the AAQI's chief fundraising outlet, the Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilt Project.

Volunteers sew quilts as large as 9”x12”—not your typical big bed quilt, but a small square that can be fit in a Priority Mail envelope and mailed to the AAQI’s central operations. Then through online and traveling sales, these quilts commonly sell anywhere from $25 to $125 with all profits going toward the study of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers can submit grant applications on the AAQI’s site, which are reviewed and awarded by an internal scientific advisory board. But these grants come with a stipulation—they can only fund the direct costs of research. Or as Simms puts it, “We’re gonna buy test tubes; we’re gonna pay researchers' salaries.”

The AAQI has awarded several grants, but their recent contribution of $30,000 to a University of Michigan study has already garnered some promising findings regarding the “cleansing” of the disease's trademark amyloid plaques.

Indeed, it's a bit odd to donate funds to any group that ultimately only exists to raise funds for another group, but if the AAQI has proven anything, it's that their stitched niche is highly effective and stunningly equitable. They amplify their resources while operating with an essentially nonexistent overhead.

“With quilting, some people think of little old ladies,” Simms explains. “But quilters are cutting edge. And there’s a boatload of us. “