Relief Sale Quilts

I grew up in a Mennonite home in Friesland, in the north of the Netherlands. Over the years, I have been very interested in the worldwide Mennonite community.

In 1967, I worked for a summer in the office of the Mennonite World Conference in Amsterdam. During the conference, I met people from all over the world – an eye opener for a kid from the farm! After finishing Teacher’s College and teaching for 2 years, I decided it was time to see the world and I came to Canada.

I could have travelled abroad through the Voluntary Service program offered at that time by the Mennonite Central Committee, but decided not to, since the term of service was only one year. Instead, I emigrated and ended up first in the Kitchener- Waterloo area, and later near Moorefield. When I moved to Listowel, I began attending the Mennonite Church there.

Each year, volunteers are asked to help with the Mennonite Relief Sale in New Hamburg on the last Saturday in May. For those who are not familiar with the Sale, it is a huge annual event, and 100% of the proceeds are donated to worldwide relief efforts.

One of the highlights of the Sale is the quilt auction, where up to 250 quilts in all shapes and sizes, are sold.

One year, I got brave and pieced a stacked bricks quilt top and donated it to the church. The ladies quilted it and it was send to the auction. I never knew where it ended up or what it went for. At that time nothing was recorded.

After a few more years, with a few more pieced quilts under my belt, I decided to give it another try. From that time on, I have coordinated the creation of quilts for the Relief Sale on a regular basis.

My usual approach is to come up with an original idea or a new technique to try, then ask the members of the Waterloo County Quilters Guild and the Listowel Mennonite Church to volunteer to make blocks and do the handquilting. Together, we have created some unique and beautiful group quilts, some of which have sold for record-breaking prices! Without the dedication and willingness of Guild and Church members to learn something new, all this would not have happened.

Let’s have a look at the quilts.

1. Nautical Geese
2. Rhapsody in Blue
3. The Baltimore Album quilts
4. Kaleidoscope of Nations
5. A Bird's Eye View
6. The Postcard Quilt
7. Plain and Fancy