1. An unfinished hexagon patchwork from the local charity shop - huge, but not beautiful, or personal enough, to make into a bedspread. What could I do with it? It is a ‘proper’ patchwork, obviously using scraps - no plan - completely random - such a lot of work. It needed to be honoured in some way.
2. Some old tea towels that had seen better days.
3. An old curtain
4. Hand-me-down threads
If you’ve ever made a hexagon patchwork you’ll know about the ‘papers’ - most of them were still in place, so I began the task of removing them - and a story started to unfold. The papers were cut from Christmas cards from another era - a time when life was simpler - I imagined the 60s or maybe the 70s…. The cards were to Janet and Dave. Who were they? Where did they live? How has Janet’s(?) patchwork ended up here? I’ll never know the answers, but I’ve felt a real connection to this piece of stitching
They had so many friends, I think one of them might have worked in a school (one paper was from the ‘hool crossing patrol’ ), had one of them been poorly (hope you are improving all the time) and it turns out the year was 1992!
I took sections of the patchwork, using inherited threads to stitch them to the tea towels, then backed them with an old curtain, to create bright and strong curtains for Geoff*.
As I dismantled the original and re-worked it, I realised that there were different styles of stitching. More than one person has worked on this, maybe as many as three, and the fabrics changed in nature as the patchwork grew, becoming brighter, some children’s prints, but still using the original papers. Who added to Janet’s(?) original work. Maybe it was Janet herself, grown old, with hands that were no longer so nimble, or eyes that didn’t see so well, using trimmings from grandchildren’s cloths. Maybe a daughter….
I don’t know these people and yet I have become involved in their lives through a piece of stitching. This is what patchwork should be - a collection of memories - a story of life.
In every handmade thing is a trace of the hand that made it, a human link, a very real sense of connection. This patchwork has that in bucketloads and I’m so happy to be able to add to its story and continue its journey.
* Geoff is the new van in my life - Yes, van - not man. He’s deceptively grey and smart at first glance, but just open the doors and you’ll find he’s a bit of a colourful character on the inside!