Hi All,
Often I get an email or a Facebook message from someone and they ask me 

How can I request a quilt for my husband/partner/friend?   
Can you please tell me what costs are involved?  
Is it possible to request a laundry bag?

(This was send to me as a quilt top – can anyone tell me who made it PLEASE)

So, tonight I thought I would explain how to go about requesting a quilt and/or a laundry bag.  It is really quite simple.   All you have to do is ask, either via a PM to the Facebook page, or via an email to either friendsof AHQ@gmail.com or djlmball@bigpond.net.au.  

Once I receive a request I usually send back a response similar to this depending on what information has been included in the initial email/contact.

Thanks for getting in touch.
All you need to do is send me your full postal address with PM keys.  Additionally I need to know approximately how long you are deployed so that I can slot you in.  Finally, although I must stress we cannot guarantee a personalized quilt or laundry bag, we do like to try, so can you please pass on your favourite colours and hobbies or interest.  As I said, I cannot be sure that the quilt you receive will bear any resemblance to the one you request but if the right quilter has the right fabric in their stash you could be lucky.
I shall look forward to hearing from you.
Cheers for now

I often get spreadsheets of requests passed to me from particular areas in Afghanistan where the individual recipients might find it hard to contact me, or they are just too busy to.  In these situations I have to rely on the coordinator letting the recipients know how we work. Generally, they do a terrific job and enable us to get quilts and laundry bags to those that might otherwise not know about us, or might have difficulty getting in touch.

(Krista B and the ladies from the Nightowls Group from Waverley Patchworkers.)

Once I receive a request I add the details to my list.   This list is GOLD!  I back it up to an external drive each night, during the day as well if I have been editing it a lot.  I even save it to USB on a regular basis – cannot afford to lose it!  

These days people are allocated quilts based on a number of factors.  I am determined that no one will miss out.  I make sure that someone coming home in June will receive a quilt before someone coming home later, unless I am sure they will both get one.  I make sure that those who are already deployed are looked after before those that are yet to deploy.  And just quietly I will always make sure those “in country” – that means in Afghanistan – are looked after before those elsewhere.  

I actually prefer people to send requests via email as I know that I can usually always get back to them.  I have people on my list who I suspect have “liked” us on Facebook to put in their request, and have then ‘unliked” us again before I can confirm the quilt has arrived.  If you want to do that can you please wait till the quilt has arrived and I know it is there.

(made by Melissa T- note that patterned stripe does not show up well in the photo – it features Sydney and Melbourne iconic landmarks)
I actually follow up each and every quilt that I possibly can.  I can do this if I have a contact email or FB message from either the recipient or the person who put the request in.  A month or more after the quilt has been sent, depending on where it is going to, I will send a brief email just checking to see if the quilt has arrived.    The Aussie Hero Friends don’t do what they do to receive thanks and accolades but we all like to know that the parcels are arriving safe and sound.  I know of a few quilts that have disappeared in to a black hole somewhere, including one for a General.  I also know of mail from “over there” that I know has been posted, but which has never turned up over here, including a letter from a General.  If his mail can go missing then surely anyone’s can.  If you have requested a quilt or a laundry bag, and have not received it a month or so after being notified that it is on its way, please contact me.  If need be, I will arrange another quilt. Let me stress, however, that I only know of a maximum of about ten quilts that I have been able to confirm have never turned up.  
Ten out of 1400+ is not a significant number.  

Do I have to wait till my husband/partner/friend is deployed before requesting anything?
No, you don’t.  I already have a fellow on my list who is due to deploy in November, another deploying in July and several in June.  Of course these deployments can change and be cancelled but giving me a heads up is great for planning.  The important thing is to remember to come back to me when you have all the details I need, things like the address which you often don’t find out till very close to the deployment time.   Do you know how often someone makes the initial contact and then gets caught up in all the madness, rush and emotion that is pre-deployment, and then forgets to get back to me?  The good thing about sending me your request in advance is that I can come back to you and remind you if I think the time is getting close. 

(This quilt top was made by Louise)
How much does it cost to request a quilt or a laundry bag?
Zip, zero, zilch, nada, nothing!  
The quilts and laundry bags are a gift to say thank you for your service to our country and the sacrifices that service asks of you and your loved ones.  
How do I decide who makes the quilt for specific people?
Hmmm, there might be a few of you interested in this one.  Every week or so, depending on how many requests I have, and how much time I have, I put out a Request List to the guys and girls on my Volunteers List.   If you are new to AHQ and want to be part of this just email me and let me know.  On that list I include the first name of the recipient and some information about what he/she has said they would like for example.

FLTLT Steve I – favourite colour green  – loves wildlife, particularly crocodiles and snakes, the more poisonous the better.  Nickname “Crikey”
SGT Wayne S – favourite colour black but tends to use red more often.  Loves budgets and working with figures but has to use a calculator
CPL Edna E – loves gladioli and horn rimmed glasses  – nickname “Dame”
BDR Jamie O   – Ex-pom.  Loves to cook for family and friends
LEUT James C  – loves sailing, and adventuring,
I can only put the list out on a day when I know I am going to be home to answer all the emails.  For the Aussie Hero Friends, I try to vary the time I put the list out so that those in the West, as well as those in the East, get a chance to have first pick.  Sometimes the list goes out late at night which means those in WA will probably see it first.  Other times I will go out around 10am my time which will benefit those on the East Coast and some times it goes out around dinner time so that the working ladies (and guys) might be around and have time to see it fairly early on.

Once the list goes out I wait for the responses, and they can keep coming for a few days.  People need only respond if they are interested in taking up one of the requests.  If possible, it is good to give me a couple of choices.  That way, if the first person you nominate for has been snapped up by someone else, then I will give you the details of the second.  I will often update the list as well so that the late-comers know which requests are still up for grabs.

Of course it goes without saying, as I said earlier

I cannot be sure that the quilt you receive will bear any resemblance to the one you request but if the right quilter has the right fabric in their stash you could be lucky.
I try to check on the progress of the quilts regularly to make sure that no one is experiencing “issues” that might delay or prevent them from completing the quilt in a timely manner.  I tend to call for updates from the quilters and rely on them replying as it is very time consuming to email all the quilters working on quilts at any one time.  For example, not including my “to do” list, there are currently in excess of 70 quilts under construction around the country! and those are the ones I know about.

Once a quilt is completed I like to receive confirmation that the parcel is actually in the mail, as opposed to “I plan to post the parcel on such and such date”.  I do this because I have learned the hard way that there are a myriad of reasons why people do not get to the post office as planned and sometimes, just sometimes, they don’t get there for days, or the parcel floats around in the back of the car for quite a while.  Once CONFIRMATION has been received I either contact the recipient, or the person who made the request, and let them know the quilt is on its way.

How long does it take to make a quilt/laundry bag and get it in the mail?    
Good question and I am glad that you asked!  Laundry bags?  
Generally not too long – a week or so should just about do it.

(By Nancy )

Quilts?  How long is a piece of string.  I like to AIM for four weeks from the date the Aussie Hero Friend assumes responsibility for the request to the date the quilt goes in the mail, give or take a couple of days BUT it all depends – on life, on work schedules, on kids health issues, on expected travel plans and so on.  The bottom line is that I try to keep an eye on all requests and make sure they are leaving in time to get to their new owner in a reasonable time.  Some quilts will be done very quickly, others will take weeks.  This can depend on the time the quilter has to devote to the project but also on the complexity of the quilt design.  If you ask for something specific I might have to wait till I have someone who I think will be willing to give your request a go – for example not all the quilters will applique names, logos etc.  Once again I go back to 
I cannot be sure that the quilt you receive will bear any resemblance to the one you request but if the right quilter has the right fabric in their stash you could be lucky.

( another of Nancy’s and incidentally this is an American motif print)
Well I think that has covered everything to do with requests.  As always, I welcome questions and queries.  Any questions will be answered in Wednesday post as I suspect if one of you is thinking it, and actually asks me about, it then chances are there are others also asking who have not sent an email.
If any of you are thinking of making a request you might like to know that all the quilts featured on the blog tonight are ready for good homes.

(Nancy’s third for tonight)

And just before I go Susan asked

“What if you just want to make a quilt or you already have one that needs a good home”

To answer the first part of that question, if you would like to make a quilt you need to first check out the Quilt Specifics Page on the blog so that you understand the size and batting requirements etc for our quilts. Then you can decide if you want to make a special quilt for a specific request, or if you want to make something of your own choice.  In the first case you need to contact me to find out what requests we have.  In the second case, if you just want to make a quilt of your own choice in design and colour, that is absolutely fine, but please pay attention to the section on the Quilts Specifics Page for some hints and tips.  Once you have completed, or nearly completed, your quilt you need to contact me, preferably with a photo of the quilt, but at least with a description so that I can allocate the quilt appropriately.

If you have a quilt that is completed and needs a good home please check to make sure that it is the right size and also contains the right batting.  If it passes muster in those two areas then, as above, you need to contact me, preferably with a photo of the quilt, but at least with a description so that I can allocate the quilt appropriately.

Alright that is enough for me now. I have buckets of emails to answer so I am off to attack them.  Any other questions do not hesitate to ask and if you want to request one of the quilts on the blog tonight  – send me an email or PM me.

Cheers for now