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Heritage Chapter Activities


  Gift Giving Season Rapidly Approaches;
Busy B's Give Love and Physical Comfort


The Busy B's keep the machines humming and the needles stitching, enjoying camaraderie reminiscent of old fashioned quilting bees. Working on this corduroy quilt, clockwise from center are Edith Leatham, Yoshi Akers, Belle Thompson, Janice Hawes, and Melanie Lundberg. Missing: Donna Palmer and Betty Brennan. Bambi Lee is nearby at the sewing machine, stitching squares together. These quilts will be given to homeless vets and others in the community who are sick or going through trying times.

The lower level of the Boeing complex at South Park holds several rows of tall storage cabinets, their contents quite different from the usual materiel required by an aerospace company. Shelves overflow with colorful afghans, lap robes and quilts, wonderfully restored toys and dolls, baskets of thread, boxes of yarn, shelves of yardage, two sewing machines and a serger.

This treasure trove is nerve central for the Busy B's, a group of Heritage Chapter handcrafters, who gather Tuesday mornings to put their sewing, quilting, and knitting skills to work in behalf of others. In the weeks before Christmas, after extra hours of sorting and packing, most of the inventory will be delivered -- quilts into the grateful arms of homeless vets or young families in the Habitat for Humanity program, lap robes for the sick and hundreds of toys and dolls . Year round, the group produces cozy afghans to cheer Boeing retirees in need of help, crocheted caps for babies and stylish fleece hats for women undergoing cancer therapies, as well as toys for children who come to the food banks. They made eight corduroy quilts this season. Their next project will be sturdy denim quilts featuring plaid flannel backing.
The backbone, cheerleader, chairman and producion manager of the Busy B' is Bambi Lee, above showing the contents of one of the afghan cupboards. Bambi founded the group shortly after Bluebills organized in the mid-90s. One day she dropped into the office and started cleaning up some dolls and making doll clothes. The other volunteers began calling her the Doll Lady. A few women joined in from time to time but they didn't come regularly. So she decided to organize a formal group, and gave it a proper name, Busy Bs. Bambi recognized that quilt making would always provide a steady flow of work and a welcome product..
(Above) Busy Bs' second doll lady is Janice Hawes. With scraps of fabric, ribbons and lace she's outfitted 62 Barbies (and one Ken) as well as a countless assortment of other dolls this season. Each doll goes into the hands of its new little owner with at least two handmade outfits. Toys and stuffed animals are sanitized and cleaned by Betty Brennan.
(Below) The main knitter of afghans is Estelle Mead, who works from home. Janice Hawes holds up one of the afghans for the camera.
The Busy B's are always on the lookout for stuffed toys and dolls and the heavy molded zippered plastic bags that quilts and blankets come in from the stores. These are ideal to keep the inventory clean and fresh until distribution time. But they don't always seek yardage. Storage space is tight to hold materials not needed for current projects. Right now they are beginning to look for old jeans, because their next series of quilts will be constructed from sturdy denim.

The donations are subsidized by a budget of $300, used to purchase quantities of quilt batting, muslin, flannel and thread. The Busy Bs rely on members of Heritage Chapter to help them with supplies. When they have specific needs, they let members know via the newsletter. When they have a special need to supplement the budget, they'll bring an afghan or unusual doll to a chapter meeting and members open their wallets. "It's not like the old days when we had to scrounge for supplies," said Bambi.

The Busy Bs take time off at Christmas to work on their own personal projects, convening again in mid-January. They meet Tuesdays at 10 a.m. at the Boeing complex at South Park. New members are welcome. More information is available in the newsletter or through a call to the office at 206-544-5772.
"I don't have room in my home to make quilts there anymore, and this is more fun anyway."

-- Belle Thompson

The Busy Bs label goes into every piece of handiwork.

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date of this page version: 4 December 2004