The Morning After Preview Day of the International Quilt Festival

I told you I’d post every night –  I lied – that was the promise of a woman who’s a virgin who’s at the International Quilt Festival for the first time. So we’ll shift into Plan B where I post the morning after.

“You’re the two red X woman,” she says. “I want to know how you came up with the idea.” This is how the day started, and this is Jeanne with Queen Becky. She hung our exhibit – she made us look GOOD.

I overhear her say, “I’m Sherri Lipman McCauley, and I’m here to work at the SAQA booth.”
“Hey, Sherri of SAQA,” I said from across the way. “I’m Jeanne Hewell-Chambers, and I’m a member of SAQA, too. Thank you for being here to keep he booth open.”

“OH, you’re the two red X woman,” she rather exclaimed as she spies my name tag.  After that there are hugs and tears and stories. When she was 12 years old, she and her sister babysat for a man who had numbers printed on his wrist.  “Don’t you ever ask him about those number,” her mother admonished them before they went on their first babysitting gig.” Now she knows why.


Andy, Peggy Thomas, and I work to set up The 70273 Project Interactive Booth #150. The Engineer prepares the thread caddies we’ll be selling to raise money for the project. Each thread caddie is designed and handmade by the talented wood artist Heather Muse, and a generous 40% of the proceeds benefit The 70273 Project. I’ll be posting an order form as soon as I have a minute. Till then, you can just message me and let me know to hold one for you. And if you have an idea of something we could sell or do as a fundraiser, let me know that, too.

Queen Becky, Rose Williams, and Peggy hang quilts in The 70273 Project Interactive Booth #150. Queen Becky and Rose (who taught special ed) marvel at the different pairs of red X’s in the quilt made by members of Kitty Sorgen’s family.

Positively Peggy Thomas in The 70273 Project Interactive Booth #150.

Booth #150. None of us has ever been to Festival before, and while we may not know what we’re doing and how to best represent The 70273 Project, we know where our hearts are, and we let them guide us.

The equally effervescent Tari Vickery arrives in the afternoon, and soon after, we whisk her away to see the Special Exhibit. Here we see her standing in front of a Middling made by Katell Renon.

Early in the project, Robin Woods sent not just blocks but a handwritten note about potential marketing avenues, and finally we meet in person. What a treat, a delight, a font of helpful information she is!

I meet these two fun, charming women before I had the good and useful idea to snap photos of name tags. If you see yourself here, please let me know your names.

It takes a while before Ricka Neuman and I can talk through the tears.

Meet Beth Conlin and Kendra Carroll, Quilt Angels extraordinare. “We want to get up close to the quilt,” they told me, “and touch it because WE CAN.”
I am so grateful to have them close by.

Oh my goodness the conversation Lynea from Utah, Sharon from Calgary, and I enjoy. Sharon has a long, full career of working with people with all sorts of special needs, and it’s obvious that she loves what she does. I hope that families who get to work with her how lucky they are. When I tell them about Nancy, Lynea (whose mother took the name from a steamy French novel she was reading at the time) walked away, and when she comes back, she has tears streaming down her face. Turns out she, too, has a sister named Nancy who is also 57 years old and who has mental development issues.

Gloria, seen here in the red shirt, looks at the Middling made by Chantal Trouillot, sees the tiny scroll curled up in the upper righthand corner, and says, “That makes me think of the Torah.” So many people see something in these quilts that I’d never considered. I’ll tell you later.

Sandy (white shirt) is married to Bill who, as a result of contracting polio when he was 18 years old, is paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors told him he would never walk again, but he taught himself how. “He walked with a stiff gate, but he walked,” Sandy tells me, “until he fell so many times that he stretched out something.” And not only did Bill walk, he is a true – as in I’m not kidding – rocket scientist. “He’s brilliant,” Lois tells me, “absolutely brilliant.” Sandy made this astonishing quilt that hands in the booth behind and Lois (from Alabama) quilted it.

Sue Harrison, who lives in Durham, Kent, UK, came by and I show her the Middling (top) made by Margaret Jackson, who’s an Ambassador for The 70273 Project in – say it with me – Durham, Kent, UK.

“I sent blocks in, and she wrote me a thank you note,” Bunnie Jordan of Virginia tells her friends. “Yeah, well, I’m a wee little bit behind on my thank you note writing,” I tell them.

When Patricia A. Montgomery and Kathee Colman come by, they tell me they read about The 70273 Project and were determined to see it tonight. “Thank you,” they each said as they hugged me. When I find out that Patricia (left) made the spectacular Civil Rights coats that are on display, I spontaneously hug her and say, “Thank you.”

Michelle was our last visitor on this glorious night. She says that when her friend, Frances Alford, told her about The 70273 Project, she made sure she got over to see it on the first night. Less than a moment after this picture was snapped, tears flowed from our four eyes. I didn’t get your last name, Michelle, so perhaps you and/or Frances will let me know?

Thank you to all who stop by to share your stories and your reactions. It is an emotional night, with many good tears being shed. Tears of joy and gratitude and compassion. I met so many kind, creative people tonight – my heart swells even more.
It is a night I’ll never, ever forget.

Peggy, The Engineer, and I enjoy a pizza and a drink afterwards as we swap stories and bask in the afterglow of a night well spent and much enjoyed.

As we walk back to the hotel, we find ourselves totally caught up in the celebration of the Houston Astros winning the World Series. There was much whooping and hollering and horns honking – even from me (well, not the horn part) – and I wrote baseball off umpteen years ago when the Atlanta Braves players decided multi-million dollar salaries weren’t enough for them and went on strike without giving a nanosecond thought about the people who depend on the considerably smaller amounts of money they make selling hot dogs and beer and cleaning up after games. That wasn’t forgotten, but the celebratory joy was, indeed, infectious.


Other places to gather around The 70273 Project water cooler:

Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.

Subscribe to the blog (where all information is shared).

Join the English-speaking Facebook group – our e-campfire – where you can talk to other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Join the French-speaking Facebook group – our other e-campfire – where you can chat with other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Like the Facebook page where you can check in for frequent updates.

Get folks to help celebrate your birthday by making blocks and/or donating bucks.

Follow the pinterest board for visual information.

Post using #the70273project on Instagram. (Please tag me, too, @whollyjeanne, so I don’t miss anything.)

Tell your friends what you want for your birthday.

And if you haven’t yet made some blocks, perhaps you’d like to put some cloth in your hands and join us.

Or maybe you’d like to gather friends and family, colleagues or students, club or guild members, etc. together and make a group quilt.


  1. Sandy Snowden

    I love the blouse! How special to have a wearable connection. And anyone who sees you when you aren’t near the quilts or the Interactive booth will get interested and ask you about it! Spreading the word just that bit more.
    Sandy in the UK
    PS Durham is in Durham, UK. UP north. Kent is down near the Channel – Where the white cliffs of Dover are. But still talking about this project all over the UK!

  2. Deb Bear

    The quilts are so beautiful! You can just look and look at all the x’s …thank you!

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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