So I have been quilting now for 10 years, though by no means prolifically. On average I have stitched 2 or 3 each year for close family and friends. However looking back at 2015, all of the projects I have been involved with have been communal. I realised this is the reason why I love this particular craft so much. Quilts can grow from a single idea, shared with like-minded people. For me, much of their charm comes from the multiple personalities that piece them; individual styles collaborating to make something unique.
The quilts I have helped to make have celebrated births and marriages: they have been sent to siblings separated in the care system: they have raised money for charity and also offered support when someone is unwell. I can't think of any situation when the gift of a quilt wouldn't make you feel better - they are beautiful to look at, soft to touch and cosy to snuggle beneath, like a giant comfort blanket. They also express kindness through the many hours dedicated to completing each stage of the making process. All these reasons sum up why quilting is very special to me: I also know it is a passion that I will have for life because it can take you in so many creative directions, and help to build special friendships.
Here is a quick glimpse at the 5 communal quilts I helped to make in 2015:-
First up was a quilt for baby Tommy made during a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales in January. We chose unisex colours (from Umbrella Prints, Dashwood Studio and Kona) as we planned it before he was born.
We added the prarie points so it was tactile.
We drank cocktails and hand quilted into the early hours in pretty bad light but had a lovely time making it together.
Tommy's mum Caroline would usually have been away with us, so doing something for her felt right.
Next up were a number of quilts made by the Leeds Modern Quilt Guild for the Sibling's Together Charity. Brothers and sisters separated in the care system are brought together to spend quality time in each other's company at a camp in the UK each August. As a group we made 9 quilts from scratch using donated fabric.
Again we had a deadline so there were a few late night sew-ins at my house to finish them in time. The two Cheerio block quilts shown here were made by me and my friends Kay, Angela and Catherine. Trusty IKEA duvet covers were used for the back.
The Liberty Hearts community quilt was a project I set up to raise money for a local charity Outside the Box. It is a cafe run by adults with learning difficulties where I often go to eat and drink.
I chose a simple block, raided my Liberty stash and emailed my friends and people who regularly attend my sewing classes. Within days I had completed hearts arriving through my door (definitely the best bit). I pieced them together and then had a very kind offer from Elaine at the Quilt Cabin in Hebden Bridge to quilt it on her long arm machine.
We sold raffle tickets over a number of weeks and raised a total of £790 which I was very happy about. The winner was one of my loveliest and most creative friends Annmarie, who had also made 2 hearts, so it couldn't have gone to a better home.
Quilt number 4 came about all of a sudden. Lisa from Simply Solids was sneakily getting married. Obviously she needed a quilt to celebrate. Her close friend Justine emailed around in a bit of a panic and sent across the fabric (Gardenvale) with instructions in the post. Another emergency rendezvous was planned at my house (with the obligatory prosecco and cheese and biscuits). Just a few weeks later, with the help of fabulous quilter Trudi Wood we had a beautiful quilt for the newlyweds:-
And finally, just before Christmas a friend became unwell and so my crafty gang and I stepped in to help with an unfinished project. Within two weeks we had sourced fabrics, cut them out and completed a double quilt. However, it is fair to say we were selective and nobody has yet offered to take on the Passacaglia Millefiore quilt also in progress!
There are hundreds of other heart-warming quilt stories out there. They pop up on Instagram and other social media regularly, and always remind me why it is such a special community to be part of.
Who knows what collaborative quilt projects will emerge in 2016.