Friday, 27 April 2012

Sewing a Freedom Quilt

We were reading Adolphus Tips recently as part of our WW2 explorations and in it there are two black American soldiers featured. They talk about freedom and hint at past slavery and it got Eve interested. So now we are off on a tangent about the history of slavery in America! I found some lovely books from this book list. I chose:
  • Sweet Clara and The Freedom Quilt (this is a really nice explanation of the freedom quilts)
  • Harriet and the Promised Land (this is a story told through poetry, but the illustrations are quite disturbing in my opinion and I haven't showed the girls yet!)
  • The Waggon (introduces how slavery ended for many with Lincoln, a nice story) .
  • If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America (Factual book - really good)
  • Escape North: The Story of Harriet Tubman (This is a graded reader, American, but is in chapters and is proving to be a nice introduction for Eve - we read a paragraph each and it is really nicely written.)
I could have got them from the library I suppose, rather than bought them, but our library never seems to have the books we want, and it takes time and frustration and then I end up buying them anyway! The girls get so much pleasure from having books to look at and I like the idea of having a home library of mixed story and factual books for us to return to time and time again (plus remember Idris will grow up to them too!).

I digress - so we cuddled up to read and Eve was really taken with the Clara book, as I thought she might be as she loves to sew! We have returned to the same story a few times and got talking about freedom quilts and what they were for and why they were made and I suggested that we could make a freedom quilt together. That was it - she was off and full of ideas........ she decided to make a journey quilt about travelling to Canada to see Uncle John Auntie Lorri (and Sam next time we go!). We looked on the Internet for some ideas about quilts and gradually a plan evolved - we sketched it out in Eve's sketch book.

We talked about how the slaves knew how to escape, and compared it with how we knew how to get to Canada. She came up with road signs, maps, and instructions and wants to work out a way to incorporate those into her modern day freedom quilt! The sketch above shows the UK on one side, Canada on the other and the Ocean in between. She wants to put two rows of seashore in between the land and the sea.

I remembered feeling inspired reading about a quilt that Soulemama made a few years back. It appealed to me because it didn't call for exact measurements and that suits my style - I don't DO precision sewing! I also thought it would allow Eve's creativity to flow without the pressure of 'making mistakes'. We are both learning sew much (snigger snigger - sorry, couldn't resist the awful pun - shan't do any more I promise!) as we go and it has been really fun.

Here are the bundles of fabric that we have to work with sew far (sorry - I know I said I wouldn't!). We raided Dunelms for the turquoise colours this morning and a trip to Hobby Craft is in order on Sunday I think. The yellow and brown fabrics are duvet covers donated by a friend today (thanks Erin!). Eve handles my Nana's sewing machine like a pro already - she likes routine and logical steps, so very quickly got to grips with the way to do each little seam and I left her to do them by herself. The first block is nearly finished (see the first pictures) and we are going to cut it to a template square shape so that all of the blocks will be of uniform size when we sew them together. I will post updates as we go - I'm not sure of the final outcome as we are making it up as we sew!
 Above are the Ocean Colours, below are the shore and land colours so far! Not all of them are traditional quilting fabrics but Eve loves the textures and we are on a budget!!!

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