Our small quilting group has been running for 5 and a half years. It was formed out of another quilt group within our u3a district that had got too large. So we became a small core group of sewers with new members joining. It made us a very supportive group from the start.
Our 12 members are all at very different stages of sewing. Some only hand sew, other prefer embroidery, others are keen machinists. For me as coordinator, I search out patterns and designs that will bring out the best in each member, and develop our sewing skills. We donate finished quilts to charity and have donated quilts to a range of local good causes.
People often ask how the designs come about. I can say it’s a big mix of factors. Firstly we discuss what good causes are around and I research the internet for interesting patterns that will suit our different styles. After discussing possible ideas as a group, I then come up with patterns and possible designs. The Internet is a great resource and I always try out a pattern before I show the group, so I can assess any difficult areas, material needed and any “watch areas”.
I found some bookcase designs on the Internet and thought during the first lockdown this would make a good project as it’s mostly straight lines, and members could use their own materials for the book ends, as well as decide on if the books were standing up or lying down. I sewed a sample piece and cut out background fabric for each member, so the quilt could have continuity.
We then had fortnightly zoom sessions where I demonstrated the key critical points of making a small bit of the quilt. Each rectangle had a free style element added to encourage members to add their own twist. We shared our progress on our fortnightly session and shared ideas and possibilities.
It was exciting to see progress. Each person had a 20 inch by fifteen inch piece to complete. Members sent pieces to me and in the abatement between lockdowns a small number of members assembled a layout. Two pieces of the quilt got lost in the post, so I set up a dead letter box outside my front door to prevent future losses. Our resourceful members redid the lost pieces and I sewed the design together. It then went back out to members to add embellishment. So the spiders web, knitting wool and jars, vases and flowers were added.
It’s been a great adventure in creativity and design, but more than that it’s been a supportive process during difficult, lockdown times. Our zoom sessions have helped us maintain our creativity, and support for each person (and to be honest, gave us things to talk about other than Covid19!) For some of our members Zoom was their only regular contact.
I was left with basting and finishing the quilt which took time, but worth the effort. In all we started the bookshelf quilt in April 2020 and it was finished in April 2021. We were delighted to offer the finished quilt to the library service. This wasn’t the only quilt we started and finished during lockdown. We completed a Christmas jumper quilt, a beach quilt and are currently working on a Fish quilt. Each quilt is unique, has our own unique touch and made with love.