By Tiffani Stewart -- St. Charles City-County Library
August 10, 2021, will mark the two hundredth anniversary of Missouri statehood. How will you commemorate this special occasion? If you enjoy sewing (or want to learn) the Library has an idea for you.
The Missouri Bicentennial Quilting Project started as an activity for adults and teens learning to sew at the Library. Leslie Blanchard and Cindy McCormack, quilters and class instructors, decided to offer a Missouri state-themed “Block of the Month” for their students. During the year leading up to the Bicentennial, they would provide a unique quilt block pattern each month. Participants would pick up the monthly pattern, along with instructions for completing it, at any Library branch. By working on one 12-inch block at a time, both seasoned and beginner quilters would be able to complete a quilt over the course of the project’s duration. Not only would crafters create a unique project for a special time in history, but they would also visit the Library every month, where they would have the opportunity to discover other books and classes to help them develop their skills.
The first block pattern was released in February of this year. In March, all of the Library branches closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. No! But did that stop the Bicentennial Quilters? No!!
It was time to think outside of the box. Library staff created a “Missouri Bicentennial Quilt Project” Facebook group, where participants can find encouragement and help from home. It now boasts nearly 250 members. The Library website now houses the monthly patterns (plus bonus blocks), where customers can download each pattern with instructions and print them at home. The patterns are downloaded hundreds of times each month, reaching crafters all over the state. Leslie and Cindy agreed to adapt their classes to video, creating tutorials each month to accompany the quilt block patterns. This “Learning-On-the-Go: Quilt Project” series showcases a variety of quilting techniques and has become one of the most popular video series on the Library’s YouTube channel, with viewers as far away as Germany!
What started as an idea for reaching a small group of quilters in our Library branches has become a symbol for the future and scope of libraries everywhere. This project reaches people far outside of our Library’s walls, yet remains a group of lifelong learners committed to a common goal. And despite the fact that all of the activity and interaction is happening online, the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt Project has embodied what libraries are all about - helping people gather, learn, and improve their lives in ways big and small.
See the results when you read comments from some of the Project’s participants:
“It has been a great few months going on the MO Bicentennial Quilt journey with all of you. (You guys have been a BRIGHT spot in a tough year!)”
“I don’t think I’ve ever made anything prettier.”
“Looking forward to the next quilt block! This project is keeping me sane.”
“I enjoy seeing all the blocks...in all the different fabrics...as well as the creativity of each of you.”
If you’re feeling inspired, join the fun! Twelve block patterns (including bonus blocks) have been posted on the Library website. Jump in and commit to creating a block each week. If you don’t have time to stitch every pattern, pick a few of your favorites to create a table runner or a decorative wall hanging. Have time for just one? It would make a perfect pillow! Enjoy the encouragement and wisdom of a crafting community, immerse yourself in a hobby - new or renewed - and celebrate Missouri’s special birthday in a unique way.
Whatever your interest, the Library can provide you with the resources and tools you need to get started...or get better. Ask staff for help at any branch in person or access the Library online with eResources, virtual classes & events, and YouTube channel tutorials. We’re here to help you celebrate August 10, 2021 with a special project, a new idea, or an all-around smarter you!
All Library facilities are open to the public for limited hours and offer curbside/drive-up services (except the Kathryn Linnemann Branch). Room reservations, passport services, and in-person classes & events are temporarily cancelled, but virtual programming is happening now. Get the details here: myLibrary.org/covid-19