This is the story of the mums who made it.
Jane Charles – Mum of 3 and a… Craft Tutor and Maker
I have been working in various Children’s Centres for the last 4 years. Working with a number of groups of young mums and encouraging them to create and make things from fabrics. They learn new skills and make new friends.
The group provides a support network and escape for the mums, giving themselves something else to think about other than the washing, shopping and school run.
Often the mums discover a talent they didn’t know they had and I encourage them to design their own work and carry on with their stitching when the course has finished. Women make memory quilts from their children’s clothes or gifts for loved ones.
During the summer term of 2012, I started a project with a small group of young mums working on a theme of where we live in New Bradwell. Working from photo’s we created a large textile collage and arranged the blocks and buildings to make a spectacular fabric quilt. It featured on the front cover of Workbox magazine and how proudly hangs in the Children’s Centre.
Unfortunately funding for these projects is dwindling and there is often no money for the necessary crèche. But the women and the Centre Co-ordinators really appreciate the time given to them and the skills they are shown and can in turn show their children.
Suzie – mum of 2
I started the quilt to build up my confidence, get some adult conversation and learn something new. I could hand sew buttons or mend a small hole, but that’s about it. In a previous project with Jane I had done simple cross-stitch and made felt Christmas presents for my family.
During the making of the quilt, I learnt to trust others to assist instead of trying to everything myself all the time. We also had a visit by people from central government looking at how the Children’s Centres are encouraging mums to get back to work. I had the confidence to speak up and let them know how difficult it is to look for work without knowing exactly how much my benefits would be affected. Not knowing how my family will be affected stops me looking at the moment.
I could unwind of an evening doing some sewing, and also met up with other mums outside of the group to sew; it was nice to have a catch up. Also if my children need something made I would now try. I sewed my little girl a name badge for her bag.
I am now trying to do a larger cross-stitch at the moment, I am also learning to crochet!
The best thing about doing the quilt was having that special ‘time for me’ and making such a beautiful map of New Bradwell, I may have only lived here a few years but really love it!
I stitched some of the houses, some ducks, the street signs, the community Centre and helped dye the material for the canal.
This was a really good project. I would do another. It’s so good to have a friendly team of people who work together to make something so beautiful and hopefully a small piece of history for the Children's Centre.
I am really proud to be part of the Children’s Centre, the staff have been great to me it is nice to be able to give something back.
Thank you Jane for all your hard work xx
Jo - mum of 2
I started the project in all honestly to get a bit of me time from my boys as a free crèche was provided. I didn't really have any interest in sewing and crafts and hadn't a clue how to even thread a needle. Turns out I had a hidden interest in it all as I was brought a sewing machine as a Christmas gift and one half of my bedroom is dedicated to sewing and fabric and crafts!
It's completely changed me and I now consider myself to have a passion and hobby and no longer feel like I'm just 'mum'.
It gave me something to focus on in the evenings and something to feel proud of and feel self worth.
Making the quilt showed me that other things are achievable and also that talking to other mums is invaluable. We all worked together and supported each other which some of us continue to do now.
Since completing the quilt I have been making my own personal projects such as stuffed bears, stuffed hearts, cushions, bags, bunting etc. I've even brought myself a dress pattern to attempt and am trying to learn crochet. The biggest project I've undertaken since the quilt though was a creative textiles City and guilds Level 1 course, which I was very pleased to pass with a merit grade. I also was involved in making things for the #Imapiece campaign which saw us meet with the local MP.
The best thing about doing the quilt was showing me there was a different outlook on life and that there were lots of things I wanted to get involved in, working as a team to produce such an amazing piece was also such a sense of achievement for us all.
I hand stitched the school and some of the houses, and used a sewing machine to fix on the roofs.
I also helped to shibori stitch and dye the rivers, make some of the ducks, printed the trees by designing our own block, hand stitched a lot of the pieces on the quilt.
I would highly recommend this project. It was such an uplifting exciting experience and such an amazing feeling to see the finished product.
Steph - mum of 4
I use the Sure Start Centre regularly, and the ladies there suggested I join the class. Our tutor Jane came up with the idea of making the quilt. I had no stitching experience to be honest. I did the occasional cross-stitch at primary school, but as an adult hadn't even sewn a button on. My kids automatically go to my mum when things needed mending!
The whole process of making the quilt was quite therapeutic. I am a mum of four, and a carer for my husband so I think I had forgotten that I could do things I enjoyed just for me too.
Making the quilt gave me something to focus on, that wasn't for the family, wasn't a chore, and was just something I could do at home in my own time.
I made lots of new mum friends while making the quilt, who I am still friends with now.
Going to the Children’s Centre and joining the group gave me much more confidence. I had become a bit of a recluse before using the Centre as we didn't know anyone round here, and getting out and meeting other people definitely helped give me the confidence to learn to drive. And of course without the Centre I would never have afforded to learn as they helped with Marc's Disability Living Allowance appeal, which has paid for the lessons! (And pass first time!! – Jane)
Having some time to do something other than being a mum or a carer was really important for me and the sense of achievement at the end of it was brilliant.
I am really proud of the quilt. I love the fact that whenever we go in there my four year old proudly tells everyone that her mummy made the Co Op! I also made some of the houses and the canal boats (Steph suggested that we included canal boats and jumped at the chance to make them! – Jane)
I learned a good variety of stitches that I can use in my mini quilt with mementos of the kids, I haven't got far, but it is started!
I would absolutely recommend others to have a go and make a community quilt, it was brilliant fun and was really rewarding!
Jenny - mum of 2
I was on the Sure Start 'Time for You Course' the previous term and can honestly say it was one of my favorite times of my maternity leave as it enabled me to get out of the house with a baby and meet new people and spend time with adults who wanted to be creative in an 'adult way'.
It gave me a break from the PVA glue and washable paint and replaced it with an opportunity to make things precious to myself and feel a sense of achievement in my creations. Jane inspired the idea of creating our own community quilt for the Centre and we were all excited and thrilled by the opportunity to be a part of it.
I have always been interested in it but never had the time...other than fixing buttons and rips etc. Making the quilt made me realize that even when I think I don't have time for things, I can make time. It helped me realise the sense of enjoying being part of a community I have within me.
It also helped me force myself to wind down of an evening and partake in a bit of 'homework' which had the desired result of being exceptionally relaxing as I was doing something for me, instead of the normal, looking after every one else. It made be realise how important it was to look after myself and ensure that I am doing the things I enjoy and making time for them.
Did making the quilt change me as a mum and help in stressful situations?
Yes! Because I was excited after a stressful day with the kids that I was just a couple of hours away from sitting in front of the TV with a glass of wine and my stitch stuff! I was so excited my other half laughed at me. He loved seeing me so passionate and happy in what I was doing. It inspired him to encourage me with it and even bought me a sewing machine for Christmas.
There were lots of brilliant things, working as part of a team, the sense of achievement as an individual and as a team in making a part of history to pass down.
Also spending time bonding with the other girls in the group around my house working on the quilt in my front room when we were close to the end of the project.
It feels brilliant to have made the quilt for the Children’s Centre, I am so proud and I hope they are as pleased as we were with the results and other Centre’s feel in inspired by it.
I made The CUBA pub, ducks, houses, the roads, the background, garden flowers...working with different fabrics, having a vision, using the sewing machine after 20 years, embroidering, patchwork...
I would absolutely encourage people to have a go and make a community quilt if you are given the chance. Go on ...you will LOVE it!....its so much fun.
With thanks to Jane Charles and all the mums who shared their creative journeys with us.
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