With the prospect of lockdown looming, my husband and I, were discussing what we were going to do during this time, or should I say what ‘I’ was going to do, as he was about to deploy to Kuwait for 6 months. ( He always seems to go away during major life events!) He suggested making a Quarantine Quilt. I think he meant one for the family, but I suddenly had the desire to do something that involved my local community. Thus the S17 Stay Home Quilt was born.
As hundreds of people in my community and (millions across the globe!) where spending a lot of time at home, many in complete isolation, I wanted to reach out and encourage people to sew. To help combat feelings of isolation and anxiety and bring people together by way of a quilt, to show how we were spending our time during lockdown. I hoped this quilt would one day become a little piece of history.
I posted on FB and Instagram and asking people to make a patchwork square. Using whatever materials available; old bed linen, children clothes, old shirts etc, and decorate the square with thread, felt, wool or ink showing what they were doing during this long period of time at home.
During the first few days and weeks, I received a steady stream of patchwork squares through my letterbox. It was an absolute delight to see such creativity and find out a little bit about people in my community, many I have never met! Such wonderful sewing skills from people young an old. Our eldest contributor was 87 and our youngest 7. It was fantastic to have so many people joining in, demonstrating how community comes together in times of hardship.
There was a lot of baking, gaming, gardening, dog walking and exercising happening during our long stay at home and this was evident in many of our little squares.
Once all the little squares had made their way to my letterbox it was time to design the central panel. I knew I wanted to incorporate a house and a friend suggested running a competition for the local primary school children to draw a picture of their house, with the winner’s featuring in the central panel. So that’s what we did!
Rainbows featured a lot during lockdown so the central panel had to have a rainbow.
Free Motion Quilting(FMQ) is not a skill I have developed (yet!), so I was very fortunate that my talented friend Joanne Crossland a FMQ genius, kindly worked her magic on the panel. She really brought it to life! Thank you Joanne.
I used Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Steel grey to frame all the fabric squares. I wanted a dark background to make the individual squares really stand out.
And the final quilt…..
As many of the lockdown measures eased we were able to go about some of our usual routines, but many community spaces remained closed for sometime. Our local library was one of them. It is staffed by volunteers, many of them over 70 and vulnerable, so it was a while before we were able hang our quilt in its new home.
As the children returned to school the library opened its doors once again and the S17 Stay Home Quilt now resides in this community space.
As I write this, many parts of the UK are returning to lockdown as the numbers of infections are increasing rapidly. It may only be a matter of time before my local community find ourselves in this situation once again. I’d like to think that some people have found a new, or re-discovered an old skill to help keep one’s mind focussed on the present and counter those feelings of stress and anxiety as the nights start to draw in and the weather gets cooler.
Keep stitching …