Despite being almost directly on top of the A31, Chawton village remains largely untouched by the 21st century; filled with timber framed, thatched cottages backing onto expansive, green fields. It is this backdrop which served as inspiration to Jane Austen when she lived in the village over 200 years ago.
When Liz and I began the process of planning the community quilt, we felt it incredibly important to involve the village. We always wanted a design that reflected the original Austen coverlet. Early in the process, we knew that our quilt would have a centre medallion panel and we invited the local primary school to design and create it. The year 6 class were to create a stitched map of Chawton village, learning how to applique their designs onto fabric. It felt right to have Chawton placed at the heart of the finished quilt.
We began the workshop with a walk around the village to sketch important sites including Chawton House Library, the local church, the park across the road and we even spent a good 15 minutes attempting to draw chickens that just wouldn’t stay still!
Back at the school, the group decided who was going to create which element of the village.
The students then dived into the five large boxes, filled with cotton of various colours and patterns, to choose their fabrics. By the end of the afternoon the carefully folded reams of fabric were no more, but it was evident the children had a great time searching for the perfect fabric to use.
After bondawebbing their designs to the backing fabric, students began stitching around the edge, and we discovered that they were stitching experts having completed their own Year 6 leavers quilt shortly before the workshop.
Liz packed a lot into one day, and we have a centre medallion that will really reflect the community of Chawton today. As a strong advocate of the creativity of children and allowing them to play and experiment, I am delighted that their art work will take centre stage in our Quilt.