National Festival of Making

We are so excited to have teamed up with Community Clothing to celebrate the first ever National Festival of Making in Blackburn on May 6th and 7th. The streets will be taken over with music, markets, street food, art, performance, tours, talks and above all, an eclectic mix of making experiences for everyone

Deliberately set in the producing heartland of Blackburn, the festival will explore and celebrate the present day diversity in the range, scale and skills of UK-based making.

We will be exhibiting beautiful modern quilts by local makers in the Community Clothing shop and producing a very special Community Quilt of our own over the 2 days. 

In the spirit of the Festival themes we would like you to help us make history. We will have sewing machines, scissors and thread at the ready.  But quilts are all about the people who create them and that's where you come in. If you have never sewn please read on, we want people of all abilities to give it a go, and help is on hand!

Some cloth will be sourced from local factories and we plan to sew 100 blocks, each depicting a spool of thread. We would love people to come and contribute.  If you would like to bring your own spool centre, then pop a 5 inch (13cm) piece of fabric in your pocket. If the fabric has a story, or personal significance then we would love you to share that too.  The remnants of a favourite dress, or a print that evokes a special memory would be great - ideally cotton but we can happily include other materials. 

A team of crafty volunteers will be on hand to help you sew your block. In previous projects, we have had people from 8 to 88 taking part. It should take no more than 30 minutes on the machine, or a little longer if you prefer to work by hand.  

All of the spool blocks will then be pieced together and quilted. This modern heirloom will be made with love and will find a permanent home in Blackburn after the festival.

We kickstarted the project with Patrick Grant this week, meeting up at Cookson and Clegg to source fabric for the project. Patrick will sew up his block during the festival  - and quilting is new to him too. 

I stitched my block which includes fabric cut from my grandpa Stanley's sailor collar.  He served in the Navy in World War 2 and went on to build boats and caravans in Nelson, Lancashire. He was a very creative person, and a huge influence in my life. 

Kay made her block using Laura Ashley fabric which featured in her childhood bedroom. She grew up in Rochdale and her grandparents all worked in local textile mills. 


We will have plenty of fabric so you don't have to bring your own to take part. 

If you want to get involved please email us at or simply turn up at Community Clothing during the festival. 

To recap:

When: Saturday May 6th and Sunday May 7th 2017

Where: Blackburn. Community Clothing shop, 14-16 Lord St, BB2 1JX

What to bring?  You are welcome with no kit at all - thread, fabric and sewing tools will be provided.  If you wish to include your own fabric in your block then a 5" square (13cm) is enough.

For project updates follow @jennismithsews on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as Community Clothing via the website and Instagram 

Check out all the other exciting Festival events here:  



 Thank you to our sponsors Aurifil Thread and Hobbycraft for helping to make this happen.