May 26, 2018
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Volunteers needed for pillowcase project

By Ardeana Hamlin, BDN Staff

Quilter Sue McIver of Baileyville is asking for pillowcases and for volunteers to sew the pillowcases. And not just any pillowcases. They must be handmade of 100 percent cotton or cotton flannel, have a Maine theme and be made according to a specific pattern. Oh, and did I mention that she needs at least 354 pillowcases by Jan. 15?

The pillowcases will be distributed to members of the Maine National Guard 1136th Transportation Unit that has members from the Calais, Bangor and Sanford areas. The unit will be deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. McIver’s son Corey McIver and her nephew Andrew O’Brien are members of the unit. It comprises 177 men and women, and McIver wants them to have two pillowcases each.

Sue McIver said she started the pillowcase project because, “When they lay their heads down at night, I want them to have a little piece of home.”

That’s why she’s asking that pillowcase fabrics have a Maine theme, such as blueberries, cranberries, lupines, deer, moose, woods, lobsters, lighthouses, farming, birds, snow or other Maine-related themes.

When her request for homemade pillowcases appeared in the Bangor Daily News several weeks ago, McIver thought she would get about a dozen calls and e-mails. But, she said, the response was so good that it took her two days to answer all the phone calls, e-mail and snail mail she received from those requesting patterns and instructions for making the pillowcases.

McIver said that when she retired several years ago, she joined the St. Croix International Quilters group, a chapter of the Pine Tree Quilters Guild. It was at a meeting of the group that she learned to make the pillowcases and that the pillowcase idea for the 1136th unit came to her.

So far, she has made 20 pillowcases, and her mother, MaryAnn O’Brien, has made 20.

Right now, McIver said, the National Guard unit is training in Virginia. She said she would like to be in contact with parents and spouses of those in the unit to let them know about the project in case any of them would like to participate.

The Guard unit will go to Fort Hood, Texas, before deployment, but “before they leave, a send-off will be held and the pillowcases will be handed out then,” McIver said.

So far McIver has received pillowcases from Extension and other service groups, but looks forward to receiving pillowcases from individuals one at a time or in stacks. She envisions receiving so many pillowcases that when any member of the military leaves Maine for service overseas, he or she will take handmade pillowcases with them.

“This is a time when everyone has pulled in their belts [in hard economic times], but when it comes to the military, everyone is willing to help. Maine people pull together when there is a need.”

To learn how to participate in the pillowcase project and to receive free instructions for making the pillowcases, write: Sue McIver, P.O. Box 651, 1295 Houlton Road, Baileyville 06694, e-mail or call 427-6967.


Betty Murray, a By Hand reader, e-mailed that she thinks she may hold the record for letting a project go unfinished. She writes: “I graduated from high school in 1953. A year or two before that I sent away for a linen cross stitch tablecloth kit. In all these years I have completed only one-quarter of it. When I vacationed was when I worked on it. Needless to say, my vacations were few!” She hopes to get back to working on the tablecloth soon.

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