Five Dallas police officers were killed in an ambush attack July 7 that shook the city and the country. The following morning, quilters took to their sewing machines and social media to spread love through their art.
“A quilt is like getting a hug from someone,” said Lee Jenkins, president of the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild (DMQG). “This is us hugging all these people and saying we support you and we love you.”
One post on Instagram the day after the tragedy with the hashtag #Quiltsforpeace led to more than 100 quilts sewn for families of the Dallas shooting.
“The quilting community came together in an amazing way,” DMQG VP of membership Denise Strueber said. “Through the power of social media it took off.”
A similar movement started under the hashtag #Quiltsforpulse after the shooting in a gay night club in Orlando that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. Quilters all over the country began sewing blocks with rainbow hearts for the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild to make into quilts for the victims and their families.
After the attack in Dallas, the president of the Fort Worth MQG suggested to Jenkins they switch to making blocks with blue hearts and white backgrounds to represent the back-the-blue movement. The McKinney MQG joined in as well.
“This is the biggest project [DMQG] has taken on,” Jenkins said. “As a guild we really worked hard.”
Each quilt, made of 42 blocks, takes around 30 to 50 hours to make. The guild quickly exceeded their original goal of 20 quilts after Jenkins posted about the movement on Instagram and people started sending blocks to Sedona Salon, where Jenkins works. The extra quilts went to city representatives such as Mayor Mike Rawlings, first responders, and children of the injured and slain officers.
The project even gained traction overseas; Jenkins received one completed red, white, and blue quilt from a police officer in Wales, which was given to the children of fallen DART officer Brent Thompson.
Jenkins also made a square with a green heart and gave it to the family of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.
Jenkins has bags filled with letters of people’s gratitude and their own personal stories of why they got involved with #Quiltsforpeace.
Squares continue to arrive in the mail. Jenkins plans to use these to make two quilts that will hang at Dallas Police Department headquarters. These quilts will be made of blocks with hearts that have police badges sewn on them from police departments across Texas and as far away as Minnesota and Canada.
“It was a group effort. Lots of people put in lots of time to make this possible,” Strueber said. “It was wonderful to work together to work for such a worthy cause.”