How to add a panel to the National AIDS quilt

23 Aug

The National AIDS Memorial Quilt was designed as an ever growing memorial to those who have been lost to this terrible disease. The quilt is made of panels, some 47,000 at this time, which bear the name of one of the deceased, often with a short message, so they will not be forgotten. Adding a friend or loved one to the quilt is often a tribute many wish to pay to these people, and is something very simple to do. One need not be gifted with great talent which allows them to make a museum quality piece to add a panel, they just need to be filled with love.

The rules for making a panel are wide open. You can choose to paint, sew, needlepoint, use appliques, or even an iron on transfer. The goal is to make this possible for anyone to do and to be able to express their creativity as they choose. While some people undertake making a panel as a solo endeavour, many opt for more of a group quilting bee setting in which they can use the time to not just remember their loved one, but connect with each other on a deeper more meaningful level.

When designing your panel be sure to include their name, otherwise how is anyone going to know who it is for? That along with each panel representing only one individual are the only design rules. Many people choose to include the dates of both birth and death, as well as the name of a spouse or children. Other ideas for a panel can be a short poem, quote, or some blurb which helps sum up just who this person was in life.If you wish to add a photo, it is suggested you photocopy it and make it into an iron on transfer, most crafts stores can help with this. Then transfer that onto a piece of 100% cotton fabric which you then sew onto the panel.

Once the design details are worked out you need to choose a material. It is important to remember that as the quilt is folded and unfolded numerous times each year, the fabric you choose needs to be durable. Non-stretch fabrics are best, particularly poplin or cotton duck. Be aware that glue does deteriorate over time, so choose a fabric you can sew whenever possible. if embellishments or glued on pieces of any variety are lost, there is no guarantee they will be re-added to the panel.

The dimensions of the fabric must by 3’x6′ on the nose, no more or less so that continuity can be maintained. Please leave 3 inches of fabric on each edge so that the panel can be hemmed. If you cannot hem it yourself, it can be done after it is sent in by volunteers. Batting is neither necessary or recommended, but backing the panel is strongly urged as it helps retain the shape of the panel and keep it clean while on display.

The next step, although suggested but not necessary, is to write a letter about the person and when possible include a photo. Include what they were like, favorite memories, your relationship to them, or anything you care to share to help them be remembered. This will be filed away in the archives along with every other person appearing on the quilt as a second lasting tribute to their life. In many cases it is also a good idea to add in an additional photo of the completed panel to go along with it.

The final step is to go to the NAME project website and fill out the form for panel makers. If possible, a donation is greatly appreciated so that overhead for the project may be covered. Once that is done, the panel may be directly submitted to the NAME project directly at:

NAMES Foundation

Attn: New Panels

The NAMES Project Foundation

637 Hoke St. NW

Atlanta, GA, 30318-4315

If you need more detailed information than is provided here or via their site, they can be reached at: 404-688-5500. Making a panel for the quilt is a wonderful way to remember those we have lost to AIDS whom touched our lives. It is a very simple process and costs so little to offer them this lasting tribute. Even if you don’t have a person to make a panel for, a small donation on it’s own is always appreciated so that others may continue to keep this living memorial operating.

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