May 02, 2017

7 Tips for Organizing a Block Drive

Most of your probably know by now about my block drive to make quilts for the seniors who were displaced by the fire in April. I have been overwhelmed by the response to my request for help!! Quilters are truly the most generous people in the world and I am so honoured to call you all friends.

I made the request for blocks barely 24 hours after deciding to go ahead with it and there are a few things I have learned since then. So, if you are considering organizing a block drive, here are 7 things I would tell you.
7 tips for organizing a quilt block drive |

1. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your phone or computer.

In the first 24 hours after making my request, I could hardly keep up with the emails and comments on my blog, Facebook and Instagram. It was insane! In a good way, but still, it was crazy. After those first 24 hours it slowed down some, but even a week later there were still plenty of messages for me to answer.

I chose to keep my mailing address private, rather than publishing it on my blog and social media, which meant a lot of the messages were simply asking where to send the blocks. You could choose to do differently, which would save a lot of computer time, but I wasn't comfortable with having my address public like that.

2. People will offer a lot more than what you asked for. Be clear on what you want.

I wasn't expecting so many people to offer things I hadn't even thought about. Could they send me money so I could purchase batting locally rather than them shipping it to me? Could they make entire quilts themselves? Did I want them to make the binding, and if so, what size? Did I want these blocks that were already made, and were an entirely different size from what I was requesting?

I made all of these decisions on the fly, answering each question as it was first presented to me. Knowing what you want ahead of time will take some of the stress out of those questions.


3. Choose a simple block and a lot of people will get on board.

Aside from people's natural desire to help seniors in need, I think the simplicity of the block I chose really encouraged people to join in, especially since it wasn't intimidating for new quilters. And those who made blocks often made more than they set out to make. It was such a quick and simple block that people said they just kept making more and more of them. A more complicated block might not have encouraged that same enthusiasm during the making.

4. Banish the quilt police.

Unless you're very specific, not everyone will use the same quality fabric you would use. In fact, some people may even use fabric that wouldn't fit your definition of "quilting fabric." It will all sew together, though, so as long as it looks machine washable, don't worry about it.

If you're getting blocks from a lot of different people, you can bet there will be size issues. It's unavoidable, but it doesn't have to be a big problem. In my case, the blocks that turned out smaller than they were supposed to have been grouped together. Sewing them all together means I don't have to worry so much about making them fit with the blocks that are the proper size, and I still get to use everyone's contribution. As for the blocks that are too big, they'll just get trimmed to size.

5. Be clear on where you live. 

This is one thing I didn't do, but certainly should have. If you're posting your request for blocks on your blog or social media, chances are it will be seen by people in other countries. Being clear on which country you live in will help avoid people making blocks or offering other help and then either being shocked by the cost of shipping to you or not being able to afford to send it at all.

6. Ask for help.

Once the blocks start rolling in, there's a lot of work to be done assembling them into tops, quilting them and putting the binding on. If you're organizing the block drive with a guild then you have built-in help. If you're not part of a guild, though, be sure to put out a call for help from other local quilters. In my case, that has included reaching out to longarmers who might be willing to help with the quilting. You can be sure they'll be a lot faster on their longarms than I could ever be on my domestic machine.

If you have access to a space, a sew-day is a great way to get people involved and get a lot of work done quickly.


7. Prepare to be overwhelmed by generosity.

Before putting out this request for blocks, I knew quilters were generous. I saw the flags made for Boston, the quilts for Pulse, the quilts for Dallas and the quilts for Fort McMurray. But I think you can't ever understand just how incredibly generous people are until you're on the receiving end of it. You can't understand until you are the one fielding all the offers of help and seeing the stacks and stacks (and stacks!) of envelopes arriving in your mail. You won't really understand, but I'm saying it here anyway. No matter what the cause, or how many blocks you are asking for, be prepared for quilters to go way above and beyond what you need in their willingness to help you as you aim to bless others. Quilters really are the best people!

I hope these tips help 😊 Good luck with your block drive!


  1. Fantastic pointers, Leanne. I think it is wise to keep your address private. And I am so glad you have been so overwhelmed by generosity!!

  2. I was thinking on this and I also think a part of this is that you only asked for people to send one block. People obviously wound up sending many, many more! But if you had asked for say....10 blocks each, it would have been more of a commitment and maybe some people would have been more intimidated and hesitated to participate.

    What I've also learned is that people WANT to help. They just don't know how or get overwhelmed. By giving a clear, simple directive - such as a quilt block - people happily jumped on board. It's something they knew how to do! Simple, straightforward. And by inviting people to participate, they feel a genuine ability to do something positive. :)

    ....and quilters really are the best people!

  3. I wonder if quilters are so generous because they want to use up their fabric ... so they can justify their stashes or so they can buy more. I know I was thrilled to use my scraps. I don't often get around to using all those scraps I've cut up. And I don't often set myself a goal I find it doesn't get done. Thanks for giving me a push!

  4. You are such a sweet quilter yourself - for organizing this block drive to help the seniors in their time of need - and for offering some great advice to anyone else thinking of having a block drive. So glad to hear there are so many blocks turning up at your place.... And love seeing all the blocks and quilt tops being made to support your worthy cause!


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