Sew because you care: the Ugly Quilt Sleeping Bag Project

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Here’s my experience making an ‘Ugly Quilt Sleeping Bag’ (with some help from Bailey) for a local homeless shelter. I think you’ll want to make one too!

I absolutely loved sewing little dolls last month to support the Comfort Doll Project. In my blog post I asked you to tell me in the comments or by email about other worthy sewing projects or groups that you know of.


Well, Paula left a comment about the Ugly Quilt Sleeping Bag Project. It sounded awesome to me. You really need to read Flo’s story, but briefly: a woman found herself in need with her son and was helped by a homeless man. His concern for them and petition to not be forgotten inspired her to reach out and give back any way that she could. That’s how the Sleeping Bag Project began. She calls her sleeping bags ‘ugly quilts’ to indicate the skill level necessary for making these simple tied blanket bags.

Flo still runs the Ugly Quilt Sleeping Bag project out of her garage and dozens of other groups all across the Untied States have adopted her project too!

Bailey likes it! 

Bailey likes it! 

When I decided to make an ugly quilt sleeping bag, my first thought was, ‘fat quarter patchwork – fast and fun!’ But then I remembered that the instructions state:

a. The Sleeping Bag is a utility quilt made from clean used or no-cost fabrics.
b. This simple sleeping bag should not have a market value to assure the homeless are beneficiaries.


So, a sleeping bag made with fat quarters that I purchased new would probably have market value and might not be used the way I want it to.  I dug into my bins of fabric that people have given me (because I’m ‘that sewing lady‘) and found a pile that would make a nice warm sleeping bag: sweatshirt knit fabric for the inside and corduroy for the outside. The inside ‘batting’ is full of old baby blankets!

This project took me 2 afternoons of work. Because I used large pieces, sewing them together went fairly quickly. The part that took the most time was tying the quilt with yarn. No part of it was difficult – it was actually quite fun!

The instructions called for hand-sewing the outer seams together, but my hands were tired from all the tying and I felt confident that my Juki TL-2010 could handle these layers. I was right – no problems at all. That’s a 3-inch seam allowance… lots of wiggle room :)!


Later that day, I picked my kids up from school and we headed to a local homeless shelter where we dropped it off. They were getting ready for a crowd that night and were very grateful.

I told a couple sewing friends at church and they sounded interested in this project too – yay! Maybe a new group will start. Whether you are a loner like me (I love sewing with help from my pups) or you have more fun sewing with friends, why not make a big ugly quilt? I’m sure the shelter nearest to you will appreciate one (or more) too. You can find the easy Ugly Quilt Sleeping Bag instructions here.

What ‘sew because you care’ project should I try next? Please let me know about charitable sewing projects that you support or admire. I’d love to hear from you. Maybe I’ll try one and share my experience about it! 



Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂