Three local dudes are offering quilters and sewers of all experience levels the chance to use their talent and make original quilt blocks for a charity challenge.
Every month, Ahwatukee Foothills business 3 Dudes Quilting challenges its customers to buy $2 worth of surprise fabric and create their own 12½-by-12 ½-inch quilt block.
According to co-owner Raymond Steeves, participants are given one month to complete a block, and then the entries are pinned up on a wall in the store so customers can vote for their favorite.
The winning block designer is rewarded with a $25 store gift card and also gets to personally choose that challenge’s intended charity.
Then, a group of eight to12 volunteers gather on a free sew day to assemble the pieces, finish the quilt and enjoy a complimentary lunch from the three dudes.
After 30 to 36 hours of labor the quilt is appraised and donated.
“The customer favorite gets to choose, so we get to donate to many different charities that way. The first charity chosen was AZ Blankets 4 Kids and their quilt appraised at $850,” Steeves said.
Some other charities they have donated to include: Hospice of the Valley, Arizona Animal Welfare League, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Pancreatic Cancer Research and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
When asked how they came up with the concept Steeves replied that many quilting stores offer block challenges but usually just give the blocks back to the individuals who made them when the contest ends.
“I figured I’ve got all these gorgeous blocks, why not put them all together and give them to a charity. Each quilt has a goal and a life after it leaves here,” Steeves said.
Blocks are now on display for June’s “Batik Mystique” challenge. The next challenge day sew-in is scheduled for Saturday, July 10 at 9:30 a.m.
Customers can pick up fabric for next month’s “Christmas Bells” challenge on July 1.
With the help of 50 to 60 of their customers, owners Steeves, Jeff Carr and Frank Costa have donated quilts to more than 15 charities since they opened in January 2009.
Steeves said volunteers enjoy the camaraderie of quilting for a good cause and also the chance to really use their imagination. Beading, appliqué, embroidery, embellishments and buttons have all been incorporated into designs.
Working on a charity block is also a good way for beginners to improve their quilting skills and techniques without getting overwhelmed by the thought of tackling a king-sized quilt, Steeves said.
“Once a beginning sewing class teacher assigned the block challenge to her students as homework,” he said. “Three of their blocks made it into the finished quilt and it was only their first week of sewing. There is no experience necessary to be a part of this community effort.”
For newcomers who are interested in creating a block but still aren’t convinced their current skills are adequate, 3 Dudes Quilting offers one-month quilting classes for beginners.
For more information, contact any of the three dudes at (480) 598-8601 or visit the store at 5053 E. Elliot Road.
Erica Tiffany is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.