At a recent local quilt group meeting, we had a brief talk from Suzanne Boulter, the chair of the nearby Chichester Quilters group about their Afghan Friendship Quilts project. Her husband worked for British Aid in Kabul for two years and has close personal ties to Afghanistan. They know from personal experience about the lives that people they worked with had lived and have now left behind. I can certainly remember the news items and photographs, back in August, of people and families desperate to leave Afghanistan. Many of them left the country with little more than the clothes on their backs and had to leave most of their personal property, and often their relatives behind. The necessities are being provided for them by various different agencies but someone had the lovely idea of making a quilt as a welcome gift for the children of the families once they were settled into their new permanent homes. There is a buddy system in place that matches a British person who used to work with the British Embassy in Afghanistan with newly arrived families and the quilts will be distributed using this network.
I was going on the bloggers quilt retreat and making a quilt for Afghan refugees seemed like an ideal project to take with me. We had been given some advice about what we should or should not include in the quilts in order to take into account cultural sensibilities. Writing, or anything that could be interpreted as writing should not be included in case it meant something significant that we were not aware of. Whilst Islamic homes are not decorated with images of people, animals or even flowers, some of these rules can be relaxed for children. This was good to know as a lot of fabric used in quilt making has floral designs or features cartoon characters. However, it might be a good idea to think about the fabrics chosen – semi naked mermaids are probably not a good idea. The group already had a number of quilts, but they didn’t have many for boys or older children.
I went home and looked through my stash for inspiration – surely I had something that I could use. I had a lot of strips in blueish tones as well as random scraps and smaller pieces so added these to the piles of sewing that I was planning to take with me. I thought that a jelly roll race might be a simple project to complete. I set off with a pile of useful bits to turn into a quilt. Hopefully I would have enough. I thought I had worked out how long a strip I would need to make, but began to doubt myself as I cut the pile of fabric into strips the right width. After sewing furiously my quilt top began to take shape.
The snake like strip finally began to look like a quilt top and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I took it home to finish it off
Everyone attending the quilting retreat was asked to make a block in blue and cream to make charity quilts. When they heard about the Afghan Friendship Quilts, I was given some of them to take home and make up into a finished quilt. I found a lovely blue fabric to use as sashing and it brought all of the blocks together
Once the 2 quilts were finished I took them along to the Chichester Quilters AGM. As I walked in clutching them I was spotted and asked if I was donating the quilts. When I said that I was and explained where they had come from I was greeted with the words “They’re Blue!”. The group has been gifted a number of quilts since the project was launched but still have fewer that are suitable for boys and older children so these ones were particularly well received as you can see from the smiley face. I was very happy to have been able to help and feel that these quilts will certainly be going to a good home. By the time you read this, with quilts. Will have been gifted.
If you would like to find out more about the Afghan Friendship Quilts you can see the information