The Story Block Boxes

25 Oct 2017


The wall hanging has over 50 story blocks, with the makers located near (Winchester) and far (Brazil). As crafters we felt a small box not only presented the project in a clear way, but would come in handy to store items when stitching the block. Once we had decided on the contents, the boxes were assembled by our fantastic group of volunteers in just one afternoon session, then addressed up and sent out the following week.


The post is not as eagerly anticipated as much as it was in Jane’s day, so we both wanted to make it feel like a treat. Each box was lined with Jane Austen’s House Museum paper and contained a handwritten thank you message from Lucy, as well as a magnet to put up at home showing a detail of the coverlet. It also contained:


A brief. Most of these were allocated randomly, but a handful were specifically allocated, for example, the local quilting group were given Alton as they know the town well.


Fabric. We decided early on that sending out a box of materials wouldn’t work as this is a story quilt, not a replica quilt, and the materials would vary according to the maker. However, to help unify the design of the quilt we decided to send out a square of plain fabric which could be used if the maker wished. The theory behind this would be if, say half of the contributors use it, then we have something to help pull the quilt together as a whole. The cotton fabric was chosen by Liz and Sue Dell, who spent an hour looking at the original quilt, and chose a shade called Ecru. Similar to the (aged) colour of one of the fabrics, it's a versatile cream that is not too pink, and not too grey.



Mood board. To help the makers chose their materials, and to help the blocks sit well together in the finished piece, we put together a mood board. This was made up of photographs taken on the research days, as well as images of items in the house’s collection.


Information. The boxes contained a welcome letter, guidelines on the size of the block and embellishments, and a request for working drawings or samples to go in the suitcase collection.


Lace. The local Alresford lace makers demonstrate at the House, and have made some beautiful Bucks lace for the project, a technique that was used in the Regency era. In the boxes, where it was relevant to the brief we sent out a piece of lace and instructions for how to use it if the designer wanted to incorporate it.


Liz took the boxes to her local post office, who, considering the 6ft pile of them, were very accommodating, and off they went for the makers to start interpreting their brief however they want.


The squares have been arriving back at Chawton throughout the Autumn and look absolutely beautiful!

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