In the second bedroom of her Buckner Villas home, you’ll find Jean Ferris thoughtfully stitching together quilts on her 1965 Singer sewing machine.
It’s the same machine she used to make her children’s clothes, hem her husband’s pants and mend countless holes. Today, however, these quilts are going to meet the needs of people all around the world through charities like World Relief and Austin LifeCare to which Ferris donates the fruits of her labor.
“I am eager to help in any way that I am able,” Ferris said. “I get great joy from using my gifts to make a difference in the lives of others, no matter how big or small that act of kindness is.”
Ferris picked up quilting 20 years ago when she and her husband were living in a motor home traveling across the United States. Since then, she’s made several hundred quilts and donated them to a variety of charities sponsored by churches she’s attended across the country. Her current church donates at least 60 quilts to World Relief each winter.
“Once we’re done making the quilts, we display them across pews on Palm Sunday to show everyone our progress,” Ferris said. “Then we box them and ship them overseas. It’s extremely inspiring.”
Ferris is a caregiver to her husband, who requires around-the-clock assistance. Quilting in her free time gives her an opportunity to relax, get creative, give back and keep her hands busy. Many of her materials are donated – either fabric people never used or scraps they don’t need. She spends as many as 12 to 14 hours a week making these quilted masterpieces.
“It’s hard to believe I’ve been sewing on that machine for 51 years!” Ferris said. “The ability to sew is a lost art, and I don’t understand how people can live without knowing how to sew or live without a sewing machine. The times have certainly changed, but I’m happy to continue doing what I love for people who need some extra love in their lives. It warms my heart.”
Ferris’ fellow Buckner Villas residents have eagerly supported her efforts and donate fabric to the cause. Her quilts were even on display during the community’s Inspire Your Heart with Art showcase in January.
“March 18 is National Quilting Day, and we are happy to celebrate this day with Jean,” said Janet Burnett, life enrichment coordinator for Buckner Villas. “She makes such a positive difference in the lives of others. Her quilts of many colors are touching lives all over the world and we are delighted to support her.”