Mary Balagna is vice president of Project Linus, an organization that makes quilts and handmade blankets for children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need throughout the nation. In her work from Bloomington, Illinois, along with president Carol Babbitt, she serves more than 60,000 volunteers called “blanketeers” in about 400 local U.S. chapters. They make and collect more than 400,000 quilts and blankets each year. In addition, Mary oversees the Central Illinois chapter as chapter coordinator.
One of Mary’s responsibilities over the past decade has been to prepare materials for classes and booths at the annual Project Linus Expo held in Bloomington for chapter coordinators and their personal guests. That amounts to between 600 and 800 kits, each with a number of pre-cut quilt pieces. Some class kits include enough pieces for an entire quilt top so class time can be spent on sewing rather than cutting. That means Mary cuts as many as 20,000 pieces each year! It was getting painful. “We just couldn’t do it to her anymore,” Carol says.
That’s why the organization decided to start die cutting. They purchased an AccuQuilt™ Studio™ Fabric Cutter. It works by placing a die (with steel rule blade embedded in it) into a tray with fabric on top in layers, then a mat the die cuts into. You roll everything through the machine, and perfectly-cut shapes come out the other side. The shapes are easily plucked from the machine and inserted into bags. “If you are going to do anything on a large scale, there’s just not going to be a better way to do it,” Carol explains.
One of the benefits of having a cutter in the office is that Carol and Mary have easy access for year round project preparation. Carol loves using it to make sure pieces are perfect. “When I cut, I drive myself crazy. I measure, measure, measure, measure then cut. I can’t be accurate enough. Die cutting gives me a lot of peace of mind.”
Find out more about Project Linus at www.projectlinus.org. To see the AccuQuilt cutter, visit www.accuquilt.com.