Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild
This quilt was made, as many signed and embroidered articles were in the past, to raise money. It should really be called the Library Quilt, as the funds made went to the N.I. Patchwork Guild Library to buy more books.
Made in traditional red and white, the pattern is a variation of Irish Chain - the design of the quilt depended on the number of red squares returned! These red squares were sold to members for £1 and they then took them home to embroider their names on them. This meant that the quilt was very much a group effort.
Valerie Stevenson cut all the pieces, I joined the embroidered patches together into the finished top. Molly Taylor, Barbara Bates and I tacked the three layers together one afternoon, on Molly's dining room table! It had been decided early on to include this quilt in the book,* which meant that the quilting had to be finished in time to take it with all the others to the photographers! Nothing works better than a deadline, however, to speed things up, and the quilting -some straight lines and some Celtic patterns -was duly completed.
Although, for various reasons, this quilt was slow in the making, it was useful, in that we made quite a lot of money out of it. As I quilted it, I enjoyed matching faces to names and was intrigued not only by the variety of the signatures themselves, but also by the incredible stitching on many of them, tiny chain stitches, satin stitches, and one name completely stitched in French knots. I wonder what the handwriting experts would say about it all!
In October 2003 two Fante Flagmakers from Ghana, Akwesi Asemstim and Baba Issaka, who spoke no English, visited Northern Ireland to work with seventeen different groups across the social and political divide, from homeless teenagers and people with learning difficulties to senior citizens. They taught the traditional techniques of making Fante flags to embody the spirit of the groups they worked with. The Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild ran a flagmaking workshop and members made 3 flags. These were shown in and around Belfast city centre and the University during the Belfast Festival at Queens.