Home sports U.S. woman finds unfinished quilt project in estate sale, then the Internet…

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U.S. woman finds unfinished quilt project in estate sale, then the Internet…

by ace
internet quilt

Warning: Elements of this story contain strong language.

Most people go to real estate sales hoping to find a hidden gem of antique furniture or jewelry – for a bargain price. Shannon Downey goes to the unfinished sewing projects.

"I feel their soul can't rest with an unfinished work of art out there," Downey told CNN.

It was at a real estate sale in a Chicago suburb in early September that Downey, who considers sewing the work of his life, discovered Rita Smith's creations.

"I walked into this house and there was a truly beautiful map, complete, hand embroidered and with a professional US frame," said Downey.

"I spent 10 minutes just devouring."

Seeing her fascination with the map, the woman overseeing the sale of the property told Downey to check a box in her room.

"I opened it and found it was a big quilting project that was just getting started. Every part of the project was mapped and in this plastic tub," Downey said on Twitter.

"I sat on the floor and almost cried because I knew I needed to buy it and finish it."

"A huge … venture"

The design was a huge queen-size quilt made up of 100 hexagonal pieces – 50 of them embroidered with a design for each US state and 50 stars.

"While I embroider, I don't stick," Downey admitted.

That's when the internet came in.

"I thought about putting it on Instagram and trying to see if people would help me finish it," Downey said.

"Within 24 hours, I had over 1,000 volunteers!"

After the names, a spreadsheet was made and the addresses were collected. Just over a month after Downey paid $ 6 for the quilt, she was ready to send all 100 hexagonal pieces to her volunteers to embroider.

"I stayed there and put three stamps on each envelope," Downey recalled.

"I was at the post office for probably two hours."

"A fierce craftsman"

While Downey waited for his helpers to complete their tasks, his volunteers wanted to learn more about the woman who started this project a long time ago. On the genealogy sites, the points found Rita's husband, her obituary, and eventually her son.

"I talked to her son and he was telling me she was a fierce craftswoman and would do upholstery, crochet, sewing … kind of everything," Downey said.

"Eventually she stopped to care for her sick husband," Downey said.

Given the timeline of Rita's life, the son told Downey that the quilt is likely to have been in limbo for more than 20 years.

"It's gonna be something"

Once the designs are all sewn together and the hexagons are returned to Downey, they will be assembled to the full coverlet. She gave her volunteers a deadline of November 15.

From there, the parts will be assembled and padded into a finished product.

"We have 38 Chicago quilts lined up to handle the quilting phase of the project as we recover all hand-stitched pieces," Downey said.

If all goes according to plan, the quilt should be ready by the end of January.

"We all agree we would like to see him in a quilt museum where the public can see him," she said.

Meanwhile, Downey – and everyone else – can track quilt progress by searching the hashtag #RitasQuilt.

"An amazing community has sprung up around this," she said.

in the bedroom and found a box full of fabric. I opened it and found it was a huge quilting project that was just beginning. Every part of the project was mapped and in this plastic tub. I sat on the floor and almost cried bc I knew I had to buy it and finish it but pic.twitter.com/yAGq3AVUMF

– Shannon "Badass Cross Stitch" Downey (@ShannonDowney) October 23, 2019

Now I really had to finish this. So I asked my Instagram community if people would help me finish it. In one day, I had over 1,000 volunteers !!! Because the people are amazing. There are 100 individual hexagons to embroider to make the quilt … pic.twitter.com/VjYrLxKgE9

– Shannon "Badass Cross Stitch" Downey (@ShannonDowney) October 23, 2019

I prepared all the packages and then went to the post office, where I was handed three different types of stamps to put in each envelope. There are 300 mutherfucking stamps. I'm grateful you don't have to lick them … pic.twitter.com/1GPtVTcFkg

– Shannon "Badass Cross Stitch" Downey (@ShannonDowney) October 23, 2019

The packages are coming to my dressmakers and they are furiously stitching their hexagons. We're using the full map I bought (which we can reasonably assume was made by Rita) to try to reflect her sewing techniques and style! pic.twitter.com/MH5Usb8IvA

– Shannon "Badass Cross Stitch" Downey (@ShannonDowney) October 23, 2019

We have over 30 Chicago quilter lines to handle the quilting phase of the project as we retrieve all hand-sewn hexagons. Human beings are amazing. The community can be built anywhere. You can follow on Instagram -> #RitasQuilt

– Shannon "Badass Cross Stitch" Downey (@ShannonDowney) October 23, 2019

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