Meet Maddie. She’s seven years old, and while her birthday in April will bring her to the fresh young age of eight, her grandmother Nancy likes to say she’s going on 25. After a couple of us here at Craftsy spoke with her on the phone a few days ago, we couldn’t agree more. After all, we hardly know any seven-going-on-eight year olds who can finish a quilting project from start to finish all by herself. Rarer still are those seven-going-on-eight year olds who want to make even more quilts for the sole purpose of donating them to people in need. But then, this is Maddie; and she’s pretty extraordinary.
Seeing her latest project, you might think she’s been quilting for a while. But, really, she’s relatively new, having only started this past holiday season. But her reasoning was really pretty simple. As Nancy explains, “Maddie reasoned that if she can chop onions well, then she should certainly be able to use a sewing machine.”
Maddie’s suspicions were correct. She had a natural talent for it, and soon wanted to do a project of her own. But with Maddie’s grandmother on a fixed income, they didn’t have a deep stash to dive into. So Maddie went out and collected cans of food for a food drive. “For every can, the local fabric shop would give you a fat eighth,” Nancy explained. With that, Maddie got what she needed for her project.
“I never made a quilt before” Maddie told us. “I had sewn things like a pillow. But it's really fun to do,” she said. Between Grandma’s pointers (she’s dabbled in quilting since 2002), and some Craftsy classes, she soon got the hang of it. “I didn't know how to do all that stuff like the binding. It was kind of hard to understand all of it before the Craftsy classes,” she told us.
With that, she was off and running, stitching in the ditch, decoratively stitching, and perfecting her techniques. And we do mean perfecting: “She's very much a perfectionist. She pushes herself to make sure it's just right,” Nancy says. “She'll rip something out and restart it if it’s not perfectly straight.”
Nancy was so impressed by her granddaughter’s project, she snapped a picture and sent it to family, friends, and Craftsy. Within minutes, the picture was circulating around Craftsy HQ, with the whole staff marveling at the wonderful project by the talented seven-year old. Meanwhile, family and friends had taken notice. Maddie and her quilt were even featured on the closed circuit television broadcast at her school. “Everyone thought it was very neat, and they really liked it. They said it was really good," Maddie said of the school’s reaction.
We reached out to Nancy and Maddie to send our congratulations and words of encouragement, expecting little more than a nice conversation. That’s when we learned even more about this incredible young crafter, and came away wanting to help.
Nancy explained that they are considering a charitable foundation or organization. Maddie loves to make quilts, but she doesn’t want to keep them for herself. Her motivation is simple: “I want to donate quilts to help kids. If someone is in a crash or a fire, it will help them to not be scared. If they end up without a house, it will keep them warm. It will make them feel better,” she told us.
Maddie is thinking about calling it Quilted Hugs From Maddie. And she and Nancy are already in the midst of their next project: a quilt with all of Maddie’s classmates’ handprints on it (along with their names). The theme of the quilt is anti-bullying, and when it is finished, the quilt will be auctioned to raise money for Maddie’s school, in the mountains of Tennessee.
One roadblock to getting Quilted Hugs From Maddie off the ground is that, as Nancy explains, they need the fabric. They’ll get a little help at an upcoming Quilting Club of America retreat, at which Maddie will be the only child. Some of the other attendees have promised to bring some of their fabric so that Maddie can start some new projects.
But, as they point out, it can be tough building up a large stash on a small budget. And the way Nancy sees it, Maddie might want to quilt for the benefit of others, but Maddie herself is benefitting, too. “This has been huge for Maddie's self-esteem and maturity,” Nancy says. “It’s been a great builder for her growth and personal development.”
As for Maddie, what she gets out of quilting is pretty simple. “I feel happy,” she says.
If you’d like to help Maddie keep quilting for kids, Craftsy welcomes you to send us your fabric. From here, we’ll collect it and send it on to Maddie and Nancy. Send your donations to:
Quilted Hugs From Maddie
2150 West 29th Ave
Denver, CO 80211