The Nature of Patch Making

I have always ‘felt’ September as the start of something new. Leaves changing colours has been a signal, not of stop, but of shaking off of distractions and a refocusing to the task at hand. I find the reds, oranges and golds of the Virginia Creeper, Maples, and Oaks energising. I marvel at how productive I often find myself in a period where blustery gusts (and busy back to school and work schedules) seem to blow connected thoughts from my head. 

As the deadline for patches for our Quarantine Quilt (15 September!) approaches, the metaphor feels worth sharing: especially because nature is proving a powerful and prevalent theme in the patches we have received so far. We are loving the wonderful work we are receiving by post every day now. 

Lockdown let me spend time doing gardening and growing fruit and veg but it also gave me an opportunity to ‘grow’ within the community, making treats for vulnerable and NHS/carers and sewing scrubs for local GPs.

At the start of lockdown when there was no traffic, trains, people outside, I went to a small garden area near my home. I listened and the only sound I heard was the wind blowing lightly past my ears.  Usually traffic would mask that.  It was beautiful peace.

Since the beginning of August, when the received pile reached a certain teetering height, once a week Naomi opens  the accumulated packages, photographing and logging the makers details and feedback in an impressive spreadsheet, and writes acknowledgements to the contributors. As of today, she has processed those received through early/mid-August. If you haven’t yet had an acknowledgement, please don’t panic – we’ll be in touch soon. The patches are rich with stories, emotions and ideas, and the work of recording them feels an important part of honouring your participation. We really appreciate your very personal testimony to the power of stitching and textile craft, like these:

‘Stitching has kept me sane during a lonesome lockdown. Learning new skills has kept me motivated.’

‘2 years ago my boyfriend left me after being together for almost 12 years.  My creativity died completely. Then Coronavirus hit.  I started making face masks.  At this point I have made over 275 face masks.  Making masks reminded me how much I love to sew and create.  Since then I have made two new quilt tops!’

These are just some of the types of stories I alluded to when I was invited onto BBC Radio Devon’s  David Fitzgerald’s lunchtime show  in August, or in this video released in August. 

We hear that some people aren’t sure how to start with a patch: we want people to know you don’t need to say everything in the patch.  Our submission form is a place for you to tell us more about what inspired your patch or what you intended to communicate. Allow it to remove any fear or pressure. Allow yourself to create.

We passionately believe in the power of making for wellbeing, and hope this project helps you reflect on what this time means for you. There is still plenty of time to start, complete and submit a patch. 

(In fact, we have had a number of people submit all three sizes and ask if they can submit more (the answer is yes), reporting that once they got going they found it really enjoyable, and surprisingly quick to do. 

I have found the process of creating these patches so restful.  From the initial idea, right through to fruition.  Ive enjoyed every minute.  I’ve been so absorbed, I’ve not been aware of time.  I joined three DLRC courses and these have enabled me to try and experiment with new techniques.  The sense of community has been brilliant along with the inspiration from the tutors and the other participants.  A real life saver in these strange times.

To help people get started with a patch, we have been relatively quietly releasing videos on our project playlist on YouTube and on Facebook, and in August we also released this extensive guide to embroidery

We also have been posting project sewing kits to isolated or vulnerable people to help them take part. We have a few more of these gift packs available. If you know someone who would benefit from a personal invitation to take part, and a kit of materials to enable it, email their details to projectteam@thequarantinequiltproject.org and we’ll get one to them.

We look forward to receiving further patches in the final few weeks of this stage of the project. 

Here are the instructions/guidelines, including the submission form. We need to receive patches by 15 September.

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