Maggie Lloyd-Jones’ ‘Quilts for Careleavers Christmas Dinners’ project captured our imagination .. she started in October and by Christmas Eve 2018 had 125 Quilts donated.  How did that happen ….

Orphan blocks and all sizes of quilts arrived at Project HQ and tweaked to meet the preferred size [44″ x 60″].   5 ladies quilted donated tops, 3 being prolific longarmers.  Most of the orphan blocks were put together at the Retreat in Birmingham.   Tops went off for quilting and the piles of quilts grew rapidly.

By the 2nd week of December, Leeds Christmas Dinner Project collected their 50. Although sad to see her quilt babies go, Maggie was proud of this community. However, the cut off day of December 15th dawned and it was still short of the goal for the other dinners who were promised quilts.

Maggie continues the story:   I picked up 13 quilts on 17th, and, after losing sleep, on Saturday 22nd a misplaced box arrived containing 4 quilts. Then the longarmer booty arrived (10 more), plus 3 more individual quilts.  The target was reached, not just for Manchester, but also for Barnsley too!

On Christmas Eve I played Mrs Claus for Barnsley and Manchester.  The quilts were laid out in a room alongside food hamper bags. I went away full of trepidation – would they like them?  I don’t think I settled on Christmas Day until I’d had a messages from Leeds and Manchester with pictures, and videos too. Cue several episodes of tears, both relief and delight. I heard from Barnsley the next day – all good.

Whilst invitations to the dinners are via local authority leaving care teams, not all guests will attend: it can be quite daunting. So, whilst a set number of quilts went out, that number of guests were not guaranteed to attend, giving guests an element of choice, something I see as important.  The reason for the quilts was explained to the dinner guests, and whilst some took time to choose, only one person declined.

The stats are as follows:

Barnsley: 12 adult, 5 children donated. 6 were surplus to guest numbers. I guest did not chose a quilt.

Leeds: 51 adult donated. 13 surplus to guest numbers

Manchester: 50 adult donated. 7 were surplus to guest numbers.

So, 119 donated, 26 to re gift in 2019. More importantly, 93 hugs taken to new homes.

Each quilt went out with a short questionnaire and a picture of the quilt chosen pinned to it. They were asked to tell us why they had chosen that quilt:  Most seemed to be attracted by colour and pattern., and left comments such as “thank you”, “They are amazing/ beautiful “ and, my favourite “ Keep doing what you are doing, it’s greatly appreciated ! ☺ “ and, “Amazing altogether”.

Strip quilts went well, as did the scrappy squares and sampler block quilts. Fleece backing was well received.  In Manchester, there were 3 requests for football colours. And one for more food….!! Colourful or subdued, all worked well. Traditional samplers were liked, as were traditional 5” squares. No complaints!

I’ll be taking local 18 – 25 year old care leaver views soon, and will feed back anything else from my local Hull contingent.

Approximately 30% of guests will have been to a dinner in a previous year, each one referred by their local authority. They are unlikely to want a second quilt so the steering committees are being consulted about whether alternatives might be offered in future years.

5 child sized quilts were sent to Barnsley. I discussed quilts for children with one of the steering committee chairs: the advice is to concentrate on quilts for the young adults.  Exceptions were made, but for future years we will stick to the recommended sizes.

Without the amazing quilting community of the UK, this project would not have been so successful. And it has been. Our group has grown and will continue to do so, with your help. In 2019, we plan to provide Quilts for more dinners. New quilters always welcome, indeed needed please 😉

Find out more about the projects supported here.

Sewing love and care into every stitch.

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