published Monday, March 12th, 2012

Patchwork hugs

Maddie Gilley, 7, made her first quilt, above, earlier this year. She wants to auction her second one to raise money for her school’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Maddie Gilley, 7, made her first quilt, above, earlier this year. She wants to auction her second one to raise money for her school’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Photo by Tim Barber.

CLAIM TO FAME

Maddie Gilley, 7, is the youngest user of the online crafting website Craftsy.com, which is used by about 500,000 members. She recently completed her first quilt and wants to donate her future quilts to emergency responders to give to children in distress.

ABOUT HER

* Name: Maddie Gilley.

* Age: 7.

* School: Second-grader at Yates Primary in Cleveland, Tenn.

* Siblings: Brother, Aaron, 10.

* Pets: Three cats, Simba, Fluffy and Fluffball, and a dog, Sugar.

DONATE

To help her make future quilts, Maddie Gilley is accepting donations of batting, quilting thread and fabric. She will also donate completed quilts on behalf of others. Donations may be made to:

Quilted Hugs From Maddie

P.O. Box 2461

Cleveland, TN 37320-2461

There's something comforting about being wrapped in a quilt. Earlier this year, 7-year-old Maddie Gilley of Cleveland, Tenn., decided that if people could benefit from a patchwork hug, so could dolls.

With a little help from her grandmother, Nancy Moore, and an online tutorial for some of the trickier techniques, Maddie began sewing her first doll-size quilt, which she completed in February.

"I basically just told her the safety points, and she did it," Moore said, gesturing to the finished product, a 2-foot square of pink and purple blocks dotted by decorative stitched hearts.

"I think she did wonderful -- a lot better than I did on my first quilt," she added, laughing.

Maddie said that although some parts of quilting, such as binding, were difficult, she enjoyed the experience.

"It turned out better than I expected," she said. "It's really fun. I can learn new things whenever I quilt."

Maddie helped her grandmother with the design of a second quilt, an 8-foot piece featuring tiles with traced outlines of her classmates at Yates Primary School. The quilt was set to be sold last Friday during a chili dinner and silent auction to benefit the school's Parent-Teacher Organization.

Maddie said she plans to donate her future projects to emergency responders to distribute to children in distress.

Her grandmother said Maddie has always displayed a greater sense of maturity than her peers.

"She's 7 going on 25," Moore said, laughing.

Maddie came to the attention of online crafting page Craftsy.com, which hosts the video tutorial Maddie watched, after her grandmother posted

a picture of the finished product on one of the site's forums.

Craftsy.com public relations representative Courtney Walsh wrote in an email that quilts are projects normally beyond the grasp of youngsters.

"[Maddie] is the youngest of over half a million members on Craftsy.com," Walsh wrote. "It's very rare to find a 7-year-old who can complete a quilting project on her own, much less one that wants to donate them to others in need."

Moore has set up a post office box to receive shipments for Quilted Hugs From Maddie to receive donations of materials. The organization will distribute quilts made by Maddie and other quilters to area emergency responders.

Maddie said she hopes children experiencing traumatic events will find comfort in these handmade gestures of compassion.

"If they're scared and don't have anything, I think it will help them not be scared and feel better because they'll know we care about them," she said.

"Instead of feeling bad, they'll know someone actually loves them."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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