Library patrons com together to create freedom quilt

Palatine Library District is unveiling a new 8-by-7-foot freedom quilt that was completed in the library's makerspace, The Workshop.

Members of the community came together in a big way to complete this project in honor of Black History Month. Historically, freedom quilts were believed to use special coded blocks to communicate methods of escape for enslaved people.

During the first two weeks of February, library members were invited to grab materials and design their own block for the quilt. The last two weeks were dedicated to putting the finished blocks together and teaching members how to use the newly donated long-arm quilting machine in The Workshop.

In the end, members made 42 blocks, surpassing the initial goal of 20 blocks.

"I was overjoyed. Everyone was so receptive to the sessions, and it felt nice to see people from different skill sets and backgrounds who were so invested in seeing it get done. I'm always looking for ways to engage the community, so the ability to teach them about Black history while learning a new skill fits together so perfectly," said Selicia Applegate, makerspace coordinator at Palatine Library.

For Applegate, the initial goal was boosting awareness of the resources offered in The Workshop and for Black History Month.

Whether participants knew how to sew or use the quilting machine, Applegate made sure that there would be guidance for members at every step. Library member Theresa Benson stepped up to help move this project forward.

Benson, an avid quilter, worked with Applegate to learn how to use the long-arm quilting machine and train The Workshop staff on its functions.

They also worked together to make this project approachable for members. Benson spent time during the quilting sessions presenting the rich history of quilting and textile art in the Black community.

Special thanks to Benson for hosting the quilting sessions; to technology associate Amy Lundquist for preparing the take-home kits for members and providing support during the sewing sessions; to Joann Powell, who donated the long-arm quilting machine to The Workshop; to Tiffany Wilhoite, who donated extra fabric from her grandmother; and to the dozens of members who made their own blocks from home and worked together to make the finished product.

The finished quilt will be displayed in The Workshop on the first floor of the Main Library through the beginning of June to commemorate the official end of slavery on June 19, 1865.

The project came out so well that the library is excited to share that the quilt will be on display at 360 CHICAGO in the Hancock Center in coordination with their Juneteenth event.

Celebrate Juneteenth with the library on Monday, June 19, with a day full of cultural festivities. The event features a market showcasing Black-owned businesses, providing an opportunity to support and uplift the local community, and the unveiling of this community-created freedom quilt celebrating Black history.

In the evening, come and enjoy an open mic, where the library will showcase spoken word, music and other performances. Watch the library's website,, for full details.

The Workshop was part of the library's massive renovation project in 2021. With the new equipment and resources available, the possibilities of new projects are limitless.

Visit to learn more.

• Submit 'Your News' at

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.