INTERLOCHEN — One day. Forty women. Fifteen quilts.
That's the goal of a Sept. 25 "quilt-a-thon" hosted by Interlochen quilt shop InterQuilten.
The event is part of an annual quilting marathon called "Helping Hands" sponsored by Quilters Against Cancer. The Newaygo-based nonprofit sells the quilts and others gathered at drop-off sites during the year and donates the money to help uninsured women with breast cancer.
Funds are directed to support programs in the counties where the quilts are created.
InterQuilten became involved with Quilters Against Cancer shortly after the shop opened in 2009, said owner Tawni Gilmer. The shop is one of a handful of drop-off sites and is participating in the Helping Hands quilting marathon for the second year.
"Owning a business, I wanted to have some kind of a social mission," said Gilmer, who also donates the occasional wall sample to the cause. "I don't know if I know anyone who hasn't been touched by cancer, and it just felt like a good thing that we would like to be involved in."
This year's quilt-a-thon takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Golden Fellowship Hall next to the Interlochen Public Library. Volunteers will create as many quilts as possible from donated fabrics and patterns in nearly a dozens designs, Gilmer said.
"We reached out to our customer base to help cut kits so when the 25th comes we'll be ready to sit down and sew," she said.
Quilt designs include random rectangles, tilted blocks, squares set on point and snowball blocks with names like "Cheaper by the Dozen," "Tipsy," "Call of the Wild" and "Mud Pies."
"The one I'm hoping to work on is called 'Treasure Hunt,'" Gilmer said. "It is a batik quilt that features an interplay between light and dark values of batiks."
Gilmer said last year's event attracted women ranging from 20-something to 90, many members of the large local quilt guild Rumpled Quilts Kin. "Last year I even had an older gal who can't get out and about much who saw an article and donated three quilts she'd already made."
All were drawn by the camaraderie as well as the opportunity to help other women, she said.
"If you ever have a chance to be part of a quilt retreat or an all-day class, you will find it's a lot of fellowship, a lot of laughing, It's girl time away from the guys, and we're all doing something we love. And it's nice to do something you love that helps someone at the same time," she said.
About 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year, according to the American Cancer Society, and about 1,970 new cases in men. About 39,840 women and 390 men will die from the disease.
If men are less likely to develop breast cancer than women, they're even less likely to take up quilting. Yet that's what former woodworker Greg Barner did after looking for a less physically demanding hobby.
Now the retired Traverse City teacher makes and sells colorful quilts, and teaches quilting and wall hanging techniques at InterQuilten. He's among the volunteer quilters for the annual quilt-a-thon, where he helps quilt together the quilt tops with backing and batting.
"I find quilting creative, and I like the mathematics and problem-solving involved," said Barner, of Kingsley. "I love the colors; it provides some joy."
Gilmer said InterQuilten is still looking for volunteers of all quilting levels to help piece, quilt and bind the quilts. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for one or more three-hour time blocks. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided and door prizes awarded throughout the day.
InterQuilten will be one of four locations holding quilting marathons this year, including Cronk's Oakridge Restaurant in Newaygo, Quilted Memories in Montague and Friends Quilting Basket in Lake Odessa. Last year the groups made a total of 38 quilts and 12 quilt tops during a 12-hour period.
Go to www.quiltersagainstcancer.com or contact InterQuilten at 276-9100.