Alongside the production of the quilt and the community drop-in workshops, we wanted to collaborate with local organisation ‘Home-start Weywater,’ for whom Sue Dell, Quilt researcher, is a trustee. Home-start work with local families with young children, providing support and respite for parents and carers.
The workshops took place in the autumn, by which point we had received so many English paper-pieced squares for the main quilts, we decided we definitely didn’t need anymore! Instead, Liz and I both agreed, it would be lovely if participants could create something to take away with them, to encourage them to continue making and stitching at home. Liz, having written a number of patchwork and quilt related books, suggested a design she had previously come up with for a ‘needle book.’ Largely made of felt with a hexagonal flower motif on the front, the design is carefully pieced together using the English paper-piecing technique. The flower is then hand-stitched onto the front of the book. Liz, produced small packs, with all the resources inside including threads, needles and fabric but it was up to the participants to make the tricky decision of which patterns and colour combinations would work best. By making a needlebook it meant participants could take away needles and pins and were able to continue sewing straight away if they want to!
After discussions with the team at Home-start, we decided to run the workshop across two one and a half hour sessions. Not too long, but long enough to get going and enjoy some tea and coffee. We spent two enjoyable mornings off-site in Bordon, stitching, chatting and meeting some of the accompanying children who enjoyed playing with the Home-start team in the creche, whilst the adults got down to stitching! Most of the parents had stitched before, but a long time ago. However, as Liz pointed out, the great thing about English paper-piecing is that you can put it down and pick it up whenever you like. I am converted to the wonders of EPP!
By the end of the second session everyone had a near complete needlebook and we all left feeling relaxed having shared stories and tea.
The workshops were a joy to deliver; these are the moments when I can’t believe this is my job!
To find out more about Home-start Weywater visit: www.homestart-weywater.org.uk