The Gems of the Prairie Quilters have two primary goals – Education and Community Service.

Gems members increase their skills and knowledge of quilting by attending workshops, lectures, classes and demonstrations throughout the year.  Members also contribute their time and talents to make quilts for infants in the NICU at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, children who are patients at the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate and to families and seniors in need through the Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria.

Gems members are very proud to lend their time and talents doing what they love to do – making quilts—to comfort those in need, from the tiniest infant born too soon to a senior citizen in a helpless situation.  Most of the fabric and materials used to make the quilts are donated by Gems members.

Soon after the Gems of the Prairie Quilters was formed in 1990, the Tiny Gems service project began.  A dozen or so little quilts were taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at OSF St. Francis Medical Center.  Over the years, the quantity has grown to almost 300 a year.

In 1995, members created the Little Gems project to make quilts for St. Jude kids.  Every child is given a colorful quilt to take home to help comfort them during their treatment and recovery. Peoria is home to the Midwest Affiliate of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.  No child is turned away from treatment because of inability to pay, and the research done at St. Jude is shared with other medical facilities around the world.

The Center for Prevention of Abuse was added as a recipient of Gems’ community service in 2004.  The Center provides counseling service and housing to victims of domestic violence and assault.  The  Center believes that everyone deserves peace every day, everywhere.  Each day, 15 new people turn to the Center for Prevention of Abuse for safety and support.  The Center serves Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties and all services are free.  The quilts donated to the Center offer comfort and warmth to the women, children and families who seek shelter during a domestic disturbance.  Donated quilts range in size from baby quilts to twin-size bed quilts.


NICU QUILTS New Sizes requested

NICU noted that they have new beds and have asked for quilts of larger sizes – 24 X 31 or 36 X 36.  If you are in the process of assembling a quilt of previous size and can easily increase the size, please do.  If not, finish it as is and turn it in as the smaller sizes can still be used, but make subsequent quilts to the bigger sizes. Fabric and batting must be 100% cotton.  It is also okay to back a quilt with flannel, but two sided flannel is too heavy.


Guidelines for Little Gems Quilts

Center for Prevention of Abuse

Twin bed- sized quilts  for women:  minimum size  60″ x 85″

These are given to clients and will be washed often, so good quality fabric and cotton or cotton/poly batting is recommended.  The lap quilts can be layered, turned inside out and quilted, so no binding is necessary if you prefer.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—Midwest Affiliate

Quilts are given to children receiving treatment, who range in age from infants to eighteen years old.   Quilts can range in size from a small size – with appropriate children’s fabrics – from 40″ x 48″, all the way up to a teenager’s quilt that would be 60″ x 72″ or so, with an older theme.  These quilts also should be made of good quality fabric, with a cotton or cotton/poly batting, quilted and bound.

The quilts given to St. Jude are laundered prior to donation, because many of the patients have impaired immunity due to their treatments.

All of the above quilts are also labeled with the following:

Made to Comfort You by

Gems of the Prairie Quilters

Peoria IL  <year>

There is a table set up at Gems monthly meetings where prepared kits are available to piece, quilt or bind.  Members of the Little Gems committee are on hand to answer any questions.