Monday, 31 December 2018

Mini block drive for Siblings Together will be entering a quilt to theFestival of Quilts 2019

Having entered two quilts into last year's festival of quilts and having seen some of the community quilts there I started hatching a plot for Siblings Together Quilt Group to join in the fun!

It is scary putting your work out there but both my quilts were joint ventures so I was not alone and I thought that would be an excellent way for others to put their work forward.

So here is my idea - I am the mama for the January #miniquiltdrive for the #100quiltsforsiblingstogether  campaign.  So instead of asking for lots of blocks I am looking for just ONE 6" finished Friendship Star block from everyone who has ever been involved in making quilts for Siblings Together.  Whatever you have done and whenever it was I'd love as many of us to be represented in this quilt.

I hope you would all love to join in - in fact I'm counting on it!  It will be a very small quilt otherwise.

So here is the block - a 6" finished Friendship Star block

You may have seen my photos on Instagram 

Here is the tutorial:

Cut five 2 1/2" squares - one is the centre square in a light colour.

Please write your first name on this centre square in a pen that will not wash out.  Let's make it easy to read so not your most undecipherable signature!  

Tip:  I did this before any sewing so I was happy with the result and didn't have to unsew due to unsightly wiggles - if you don't like your writing you can ask someone else to or send to me if you don't have a suitable pen, just make sure I know who you are!!

The other four 2 1/2" squares are the background, which can either be light or dark as seen below.

Make four 2 1/2" HST (half square triangles) in your preferred method - they can all be made from two fabrics (star and background) or be scrappy but best if the stars points are all in a similar colour and background fabrics too so the star will stand out.  

In my example below I have used all the same solid for the background and the star triangles in two fabrics

Assemble all HSTs and squares in a nine patch as shown above or you can spin that star the other way if you prefer - I am looking for a mixture of dark/light backgrounds and clockwise and anti-clockwise spinning stars!

Stitch the squares together in each row.

Press the seam allowance in alternate directions in each row to nest those seam allowances when joining rows.

 The finished block - from the front

from the back...

Just contact me Nicky Eglinton on IG or for my address and I hope to see you at Festival of Quilts in front of our quilt!

How to make the HST blocks:

Cut four 3" squares - two in background fabrics, two in star fabrics.

Draw a diagonal line across the back of the squares.  Pair up a background with a star fabric, right sides facing.  Stitch a quarter of an inch on either side of the drawn line.

Cut on the drawn line.   Repeat for second set.  This makes four HST blocks.

Press seams to one side and trim to a 2 1/2" square.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Mini Block Drive October/November 2018.

 Welcome to the first two months of our Siblings Together Mini Block Drive. By the way the blocks aren't mini, just the length of each block drive! For more information about this new project please see our earlier post here. One slight change is that, as you will see from this post, we have decided to post instructions for the month's blocks here on the blog for those of you who do not use Instagram.

Our first Monthly Mama is Tricia who wrote a wonderfully inspitaional  post about why she supports quilts for Siblings Together which can be read here.

Now over to Tricia who will tell us about the blocks she would like us to make.


by Tricia (yondergirlie on Instagram)

The quilts we are going to be making are based on the pattern Sunny Skies by Missouri Star Quilt Company, who very kindly gave me permission to use this pattern for the block drive. Their only stipulation is that the quilts are not sold. There is a YouTube video available if you want to make a whole quilt yourself. For the purposes of this drive I have resized the quilt into a square so that we don’t need half or quarter blocks. Please make as many blocks as you can, and when you are ready email me at for my address. Thank you so much for supporting this wonderful cause!

Block 1

For this block I need half square triangles. There are a number of ways to make them, either as single units, four at a time, or eight at a time (the method I chose and for which there is a tutorial below).

For this block I am asking for low volume fabrics with a white or off-white or pale grey background, or solid fabric in each colour, and a black or mid to dark grey which can also be patterned or solid.

Each block is made up of 4 half square triangle units, each of which will be 4” square when finished, so the unfinished size should be 4.5”. However, I am asking that the units not be sewn together so that I can distribute them within the quilt to get a more balanced scrappy look.

For the 8 at a time, I started with a 10” block. This is a really economical and fast way of making two blocks as there is virtually no waste. But if that makes you nervous use a 10.25” or 10.5” square to start.

Draw two diagonal lines through the centre of the light square.

Pin or hold the light and dark squares right side together, then sew a line of stitching a scant ¼” either side of the drawn line.

Cut into 4 x 5” squares, then cut each square along the marked diagonal line.

Press the seam open to set it, then open up and press to the dark side.

Trim each unit to 4.5”.

Block 2

This is a very simple 16-patch square, made up of 2.5” squares. It will finish at 8” square, but unfinished is 8.5”.

I’m asking for bright colours that will contrast well with the low volume fabric and the mid-dark grey or black. You can use patterned fabric or solids, and mix them up if you want to. And you might also choose to fussy cut the blocks.

If you would like to join us in making some of these blocks to put towards some more quilts for Siblings Together Tricia will be accepting them until the end of the year when it will then be the turn of our next Mamma to present her blocks.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Mini Block Quilt Mama for October

Here is an introduction to our first ever Mini Quilt Block Drive Mama - Tricia!

As you can see she has this cause we work for at the very heart of her being so I hope you will respond with great enthusiasm and give her a wonderful warm welcome! Over to you Tricia...

When Nicky Eglinton told me that she was looking for people to host a mini block drive for Siblings Together I volunteered to help immediately, because this is something close to my heart. I was subjected to serious abuse as a child but somehow, I don’t know how, I knew that if I told anyone what was happening to me, my family would be broken up and I might not see my siblings again.

When I moved to California as an adult and I did not have a visa to work, I decided that I wanted to do volunteer work instead and that maybe I could use my childhood experiences to work with abused children. I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate, working one to one with children in the foster care system. I had access to all aspects of the child’s life and would meet with them regularly and also make reports and recommendations to the court when their case came up for review. It was through this work that I first became aware of how often siblings were separated because there weren’t enough foster care placements that could take them. Whenever I worked with a child who had been separated from their siblings I did what I could to arrange for them to get together and share some fun activities. My thinking was that if I could help them to create positive memories together, it would at least give them something in common and something they could reminisce about as they got older – ‘Remember that time we did…’.

Searching for activities for them, I became involved with a charity that organised out reach programmes for children in care, and I ended up becoming Chairman of the Board. We held week-long camps in the mountains for the younger children, where they slept in teepees, with no running water or electricity which was quite a culture shock to them! I loved driving groups of children to camp and hearing their questions and concerns ‘But what will we do without tv?’ When I picked them up at the end of the week they had always, without fail, had a wonderful time, and were left with many happy memories. We also ran backpacking trips with donkeys for teenagers, and day long activities, and I organised a talent show for the children every year. I could see first hand the powerful effect that these activities had on the lives of these children.

However, I often felt frustrated that I couldn’t do more to help them, so when I returned to England I did a post-grad degree in psychotherapy. I wrote my dissertation on dissociation, researching the lifelong effects of early years trauma, and in my private practice I work with adults, many of who have experienced abuse or neglect as children.

The volunteer work I did also had an impact on my family, with my son giving up his PhD because he wanted to be a teacher. His wife has become a Special Needs teacher, and often encounters children within the system. My youngest daughter is a senior social worker, and works in Child Protection, which means that she is the person who has to remove children and place them in foster care. Through her I have learned how the system works in this country. I think it’s a shame that social workers are given a tough time by the public, often seen as child snatchers, even though removing children is always a last resort. It is actually enshrined in law that every attempt should be made to keep families together whenever possible by providing support, and when that can’t happen, siblings should not be automatically separated. (There are times when siblings have to be separated because of the nature of the abuse.) My daughter has told me that when children are removed they can often be moved several times in the first week alone, and the chances of them staying together at that point are very slight. Extensive assessments are carried out to determine the needs of each child, and if the recommendation is that siblings should be kept together, placements are sought where this can happen. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough suitable foster homes to cope with the need, and it then becomes the duty of the social worker to try to maintain contact with the siblings, although because of the pressures within the system, this may only happen 3 or 4 times a year. This is where an organisation whose sole purpose is to facilitate these sibling relationships through the activities they organize in the way that Siblings Together does becomes so important.

Throughout my life I have been a maker. I remember knitting for a new sister when I was nine years old, and embroidering my Irish dance costume when I was still in primary school. A few years ago, through my son’s mother-in-law, I discovered quilting, and a new addiction was born. When I joined Instagram I eventually discovered this group and it felt like the different strands of my life fell into place.

I have been asked ‘Why quilts? How do they help?’ and I wanted to share my thoughts.

The life of a child in foster care is a hard one. Although we want children to be removed from an abusive or neglectful environment, how much thought do most people give to what happens next? There is often a stigma attached to being in foster care, and it’s not unusual for these children to become disruptive or develop learning difficulties. They are often moved from placement to placement with their few possessions stuffed in black plastic bags.

Imagine then, how a quilt might become a prized possession for them. If they were given the quilt while at a camp with siblings, it becomes imbued with happy memories and becomes a tangible connection to each other. Add to that the idea that a stranger cared enough about them to make it for them and it can come to symbolize hope.

These are not random thoughts, they are firmly rooted in psychological theory. Donald Winnicott was a British paediatrician and psychoanalyst who had a huge influence on how children are raised. He coined the term ‘transitional object’ and wrote extensively on its importance. This is an object, often a blanket or toy that gives security to a baby or child as they encounter changes in their lives. More and more the importance of these objects is recognised and some schools allow children to take their favourite object into the classroom. Adults also have their transitional objects although they might take a different form – a favourite armchair or item of clothing, a piece of music an activity – whatever it is, we draw comfort from it. At a time in my life when I was going through a huge trauma, I was often seen wearing an old sweatshirt of my son’s because it brought me comfort, and I knit or stitch when I’m stressed.

Making a quilt for Siblings Together is a special activity for me. As I cut and stitch I think of the child who might receive it. I put as much thought and love into the quilt as I possibly can, and I hope that it will provide many years of comfort for a child as they travel on their journey in life. I am amazed by how many people participate in this project and beyond happy to help with the block drive. I look forward to putting the blocks together, knowing that each one has been made with great thought and kindness.