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Memory Quilt inspired by WFWI Hexagon Workshop

Recently WFWI Workshops held an online Hexagon quilting instruction evening which has inspired one member of Amesbury Evening WI, Mary Hopkins, to be extremely creative and produce pieces for a memory quilt.

In correspondence to Louise Hall (Hexagon Workshop Instructor and WFWI Trustee), Mary wrote "I loved the hexagons, having saved scraps of fabric from my needlework since the 1980s, this was the impetuous I needed to get going finally. I have a few more to go, but I nearly have enough. I need 114 for 6 pairs of rows of 9s and 10s. There’s curtains, dresses, kids’ clothes, hubby’s ties, bits of embroidery from birthday cards, pretty bits of sheets, pillowcases, and more. It has turned into a memory quilt. All inspired by your zoom night. You gave us lots of encouragement and lots of your time."

Mary has lived all over the country and she has belonged to WIs in Kent, Derbyshire, Northumberland and Suffolk. She got quite involved with Suffolk East Federation after she retired from work. Learning crafts has been a constant throughout her life.

In the summer of 2018 she moved to West Amesbury with her husband. Sadly, her husband of 51 years, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2020 and died 46 days later.

“I am afraid that you are totally responsible for all the hexagon flowers!! They have all been sewn together in the last month.” Mary wrote in an email to Louise Hall.

Mary started collecting/saving the bits of fabric for the hexagons in the late 1980s. She had made square patch duvet covers and log cabin seat cushions before this but mostly out of cast off clothing and bags of Laura Ashley scraps. “The kids were little, money was tight,” she explained.

“I read the book Apricots at Midnight by Adèle Geras with some children. It was about a hexagonal patchwork quilt and the memories it sparked. The group all bought in a bit of fabric and told its story. We cut out some hexagons and glued them to a card to make our own story quilt. And then we moved on to another book. Some of these scraps got left in my drawer and I hadn't the heart to throw them out. That started the collection. I began saving scraps, cutting them into hexagons and stuffing them into a carrier bag along with the originals. Over time the collection grew and grew. There are pieces of dresses (ones which once had shoulder pads!), the kids' holiday shorts, a cotton bikini, waistcoats, mother in law’s sun dresses, hubby’s shirts and ties, bits of curtains, cushions and pillowcases, scraps from grandchildren's little shirts and dresses and all sorts of odds and ends. Each bit takes you back in time as you can imagine.”

What Mary lacked was the impetus to start putting them together. And that was were Louise’s Workshop on Zoom came in. “I didn’t know exactly how I was going to start. The weekend after the Zoom was snowy. What better time to start! I had lots of paper packaging for recycling, Christmas cards, heavy paper which had been scribbled on, plenty of stuff in fact for templates. I set off with my paper scissors. I gave myself three months, maybe sewing one a day……then the weather was either wet or snowy again,” wrote Mary.

The result is in the photograph and she is delighted with it so far. The only downside is the damage to her middle finger of her right hand. “In spite of wearing a thimble, it is very very sore now! I have had a couple of days off. But, the end is in sight. I can’t wait to start putting them all together. A memory of lockdown in itself.”

Mary says she plans on signing up for the three up and coming craft workshop evenings as it has given her such inspiration. We think Mary is the one who is inspiring because of her beautiful story and the memories she is able to keep with her fabric scraps.

Who knows, there might be someone else with a bag full of memories which they intend to sew together on that magical someday.” (Mary Hopkins).

- Submitted by Louise Hall, WFWI Trustee and Chair of Workshops. If you would like more information about the upcoming workshop series Craft with Wiltshire please visit Closing date for the three sessions is 18 March 2021.


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