The Covid Quilt
Bernina (the makers of sewing machines) and the QGBI (The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles) are making a Commemorative Quilt about memories of the Covid period. All those taking part in the project were asked to contribute to the NHS Charities Together, so it a fund-raising as well as a commemorative project.
I have made a block and thought you might like to see how I did it.
The inspiration for the quilt block
Long-time readers of this blog (thank you all so much!) will remember that during the first lockdown in 2020, I wrote about sewing at home on my kitchen table. My regular studio (which was then in Ushaw Historic House) was closed, so I brought my Bernina machine home again. My friend Aimee (pictured below), owner of Corsetry & Couture and maker of wedding dresses, decided to help out with the shortfalls experienced by the NHS and care staff at the start of the pandemic. She set up a hub in the North-East to make scrubs, scrub bags and other items needed by nursing and care staff. She organised fabrics, thread, tape and buttons. I wrote about it here.
At the time of making these items, my table at home was piled high with lengths of fabric and strips of tape. I wrote about it here and included this photo.
Here are finished items being ‘handed over’ in a car park at a time when no close contact was allowed.
Designing the block
This is one of the key memories of those early months of the pandemic in the UK so I chose it for my block. I began with the photo of me sitting at the sewing machine that you can see further up the page and did a rough sketch in pen.
Making the block
The next step was to mark out a 6 x 6″ square on the cream background fabric supplied by Bernina. Then I cut out pieces of fabric for each of the shapes and held them in place on the background fabric with small appliqué pins. The yellow fabric with white dots was supplied by Bernina and will be in all the blocks of the quilt. I actually sewed polka-dot fabric at the time (as you can see in the second photo above) so it seemed particularly appropriate!
Once I was happy with the lay-out, I took all the pieces off the background fabric again and laid them (in the right order) on the ironing board. I placed fabric bonding web over the area of the background fabric that would be covered by the fabric pieces. Then the fabric pieces were replaced on top of the web. I added heat with an iron, using a sheet of baking to protect the iron from any residue.
I then stitched round the outside of all the pieces with small stitches in a neutral colour.
When all the stitching was done, the pieces looked like this.
I used a single strand of black stranded cotton to embroider the face, using French knots for the eyes. Once the face was on, the hair was stitched in place. Then the chair back and lamp were embroidered with a back-stitch. The contours of the sewing machine, the fingers and the shape of the arm were added in the same way.
I wrote the words out lightly in pencil and then stitched them in grey stranded cotton, keeping it to just three words (as the table was there in the picture!) Dots were made with French knots.
Next came a pink chin(!) and an electric lead for the sewing machine.
Finally, I added some thin ribbon strips to represent the cotton tape used for the bags, plus a reel of cotton on top of the sewing machine.
The piece is on its way to Bernina at Bogod and Company in Cardiff and on to volunteers who have agreed to piece the quilt. The plan is to show it at the Festival of Quilts 2022. I’m looking forward to seeing it.
You can find Corsetry & Couture (and see what Aimee is making now) at: https://corsetryandcouture.co.uk/
For more about the Covid Quilt look at: https://www.covid-quilt.com/ https://quiltersguild.blog/2021/11/25/help-create-a-lasting-covid-commemoration/