Quilting doesn’t usually make the list of things that teenagers enjoy doing, but that’s not the case with 15-year-old quilter Diana Jasany of Mooresville, NC. For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Diana is raising community awareness about the foster care system. Diana is making twin sized quilts for teens who are aging out of foster care, something she’s passionate about since she herself was adopted from Russia at 14 months old. Diana plans to make one quilt for each of the years she has lived in the U.S. by 2017 (totaling 16 quilts). Eventually, she wants to make baby quilts to send back to her Russian orphanage.
Earlier this year Diana created a Facebook page, Diana’s Golden Needle, to help her spread the word about her project and made a plea to those who could help her make blocks, sew the blocks together, or help by longarming her quilts. She has received an overwhelming amount of support from companies and individuals all over the world. From words of encouragement to an abundance of quilting supplies, people have responded enthusiastically to Diana’s call. Thus far, dozens of individuals and 11 companies have donated to Diana’s project including AccuQuilt. Many of the donations include fabric, batting, thread, and even quilt blocks and quilt tops. We happily donated a GO! Fabric Cutter, strip cutter die, and cutting mat so Diana can reach her goal even faster.
We spoke with Diana and her mom, Laurie, about Diana’s project and how close she is to accomplishing her goal.
As of today, approximately how many people and organizations have donated to your gold award project?
Over 150 from 47 states and Canada, Germany, England, The Netherlands, Guam, Australia, British Columbia, and Ireland have also donated.
Are you incorporating blocks that people send to you into the quilts you’ve already started working on?
Yes, I put them into a big pile and then sort as I go along . . . brights, pastels, some that work for boys and others that are just girlier.
Have you received any finished quilts as donations?
Yes, in my pattern two finished quilts and three quilt tops. In other patterns 15 finished quilts. Many are lap size or baby quilts.
What made you select Scrappy Trips Around the World by Bonnie Hunter as your quilt block for this project?
I liked that this was a scrappy quilt block and could easily be made by lots of people and whatever fabrics they used would all work so well together. I also liked the name of it, since my parents and I traveled around the world to find each other.
How many quilt tops have you completed?
Ten so far.
When do you expect to have all 16 quilts completed and ready to send to Barium
Springs (Children’s Hope Alliance)?
My goal was to finish 16 quilts by 2017, but because of all the help, I will finish them sooner. I want to continue on until 2017 to see how many can be made.
Why did you select Barium Springs to help you with this effort?
Because they are a well- known foster care program in my area.
Do you know when they are planning to distribute the quilts?
I'm going to give them to Barium Springs in batches of five quilts beginning the end of August. I am going to include a letter from me with each quilt to the kids.
When did you first learn how to quilt, and who taught you?
I learned how to sew in 3rd grade and my mom taught me.
What has it been like using the GO! Fabric Cutter? How many strips have you cut since you received it?
It’s been really fun and easy and fast! I have cut enough for five quilt tops and got them ready to sew for an upcoming workshop.
How many other quilting projects have you made?
I've made two other small quilts and I have done other sewing projects as well, like making pajama bottoms, pillows, and pillowcases.
What is your favorite part of the quilting process?
Picking out the fabrics for each block and laying out the blocks into the pattern and seeing what it all looks like together.
Will you continue to make quilts after you accomplish your goal?
Yes, I will continue on after my first goal of 16 quilts and I will make more for the kids.
What other creative things interest you?
I like to do lots of crafts, card making, DIY projects, etc.
Are you active in any special activities at school?
Yes! I am in student council, a member of the cross-country team, basketball team and track and field.
What’s your favorite subject?
My favorite subject is Social Studies and learning about the U.S. and other countries.
Have you had the opportunity to go back to Russia?
No, I have not been able to go back to Russia yet, but I would like to someday.
What are your plans after high school?
I want to go to college.
Do you know yet where you’d like to go?
One of the big colleges in North Carolina. I like to be around a lot of people.
Laurie, are you a quilter? If so, how long have you been quilting and who taught you?
Yes, I have been quilting for about 10 years now. My mother taught me to sew when I was about 8 years old.
How many quilts have you completed, and do you hand quilt or send your quilts to a longarm quilter?
I have probably made at least 100 . . . many as gifts. I quilt all of my own on a smaller short arm machine and frame.
Were you surprised when Diana chose to draw attention to the foster care system for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project?
No, not at all. She always wanted to do something for her Gold that tied back to her adoption in Russia.
Where are you from originally?
Both my husband and I were born and raised in Ohio.
Do you and Diana sew/quilt together?
Yes, often. She likes to make presents for Christmas, etc. We have worked together a lot on this project in many of the different steps of the process.
Are you surprised by how many donations Diana has received so far for this project?
Yes, absolutely! The outpouring of help has been amazing.
If Diana starts to get overwhelmed by this amazing goal, how will you help her overcome?
She knows that organization is the key factor. She stays up on donations as they come in, posting pictures and ‘thank yous’ on Facebook as quickly as possible. Then I help her with organizing them in our house.
How would you describe your daughter?
Diana is a sweet, loving, and very caring daughter, always very eager to help, and very independent. Although very much the teenager, she has always also been very mature for her age. She is very involved in sports at her school and enjoys being in high school. She will be entering 10th grade in the fall.
What is one of your favorite memories of Diana as a small child?
Seeing her with both of her grandmothers, playing games with them, etc. By the time Diana came along, she was the youngest in the family by about 10 years on my side and 18 years on my husband's side, so both grandmas enjoyed the chance to be around a toddler again! Diana is named for her great grandmother Diana Shearon.
If you’d like to donate to Diana’s project or simply want to keep up with her progress, follow her Facebook page Diana’s Golden Needle. For more information about Diana, see an article she wrote for Adoption Today called Going for the Gold. Diana talks about how her life would’ve been different in Russia. Additionally, Diana was featured in Lake Norman Woman Magazine’s June 2015 issue, Amazing Girls on the Go.
We are wishing Diana much success with her gold award project and hope she not only meets her goal but also exceeds it by 2017!