Rural – Jersey Country Life Magazine

THE JERSEY CIDER APPLE QUILT

An update and ‘thank-you’ from Volunteer Coordinator at Jersey Heritage, Julia Coutanche

In March 2019 Jersey Heritage launched a community project to create a patchwork celebrating Jersey’s rich history of growing apples and making cider. All in all it has been a brilliant response – we have received some absolutely beautifully decorated squares (‘blocks’) and I am delighted. So I want to say a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to everyone who has been involved so far and also to send a progress report and update about the Quilt project – what’s been happening and what’s planned…

The deadline for submitting squares was officially 1 July 2020 but understandably a few individuals and organisations – including MENCAP, Sarah Matlock (the La Robeline cider maker’s wife), JCG, Julia Renault’s painting group and Headway – have asked for a bit more time because lockdown or other events interrupted their plans and creativity or made their squares inaccessible. So I have contacted all those people for confirmation of their anticipated completion date, subject, sizes etc.

At the beginning of October, I scanned the remaining decorated blocks that we have received; currently the total is 309. The majority are four-inch squares but some are eight inches or twelve inches. Subjects range from apples to trees, bees, blossom, birds, leaves, apple crushers, a press, Wassail, maps, jougues and glasses of cider, apple varieties names, the export of cider by ship, cider and apple-themed poems or phrases and seasons in the orchard. 2020 lockdown is also featured, in the form of rainbow coloured apples and phrases.

The age range of participants is 3½ to late 80s. Most squares were decorated in Jersey but we have also received squares from the UK, USA, South America and Australia. Some people used the opportunity to work together creatively as a family – three generations of women, a grandmother and her grandchildren, husband and wife etc.

Techniques used include hand embroidery, machine embroidery, appliqué, felting, fabric paint and cross stitch, some lace makers have been involved, and we have even received some crocheted apples! Several people have used mixed media and embellishments such as gold thread, buttons and beads. One person has used fabric upcycled from an apple-themed tea towel that her Grandmother bought several years ago. 

The next stage will be to work out the design; I have printed out the scanned images and plan to work with paper rather than handling the actual fabric squares. We know that there will be a border (for which Val Marshman has embroidered 12 apple names in Jèrriais and First Tower school children have created 70+ appliqué apples – many of them sewing for the first time in their young lives) and that, rather than being sewn flush together, each of the squares in the main central panel will have plain fabric around it so as to show off the intricate work.

If we discover that there is a gap in the subject matter, that an important aspect of growing apples or making cider hasn’t been interpreted, we may need to commission a couple more squares.

It is anticipated that the finished patchwork will be displayed in the new museum building that is planned for Hamptonne; we don’t yet have a completion date for that. So, thankfully, we don’t have a deadline for completing the patchwork – which will enable us to work carefully and slowly, taking as much time as we need (ensuring that we do justice to the huge effort and amount of hours that people have put into decorating their blocks. For example, some people have told me that they spent 25 or 40 hours doing their embroidery etc.)

There is no doubt that stitching the squares together and constructing the quilt will be a challenging task but also no doubt that the resulting patchwork will be truly beautiful…

There is a video about the Jersey Cider Apple Story and the Quilt project on the JH website https://www.jerseyheritage.org/ – it was compiled in time for Apple Day on 21 October and is easily found with this link: https://vimeo.com/jerseyheritagvimeo

I hope that you will enjoy watching it – it tells the Jersey Cider Apple story and features some, but not all, of the blocks that we have received for the Jersey Cider Apple Quilt.    

Please let me know if you have any queries, suggestions or feedback about the Jersey Cider Apple Quilt project and/or if you would be interested in helping to sew the patchwork together, which we anticipate doing next year. Some people have already volunteered to be part of the team who will be stitching the squares together in 2021. We would welcome more helpers and will meet soon, to discuss practicalities.

Of course Covid-19 and physical distancing recommendations as well as other practicalities re whether hand sewing or machine stitching will be needed, will affect how, when and where we work. We will sometimes be working together in one location and probably also taking work to sew at home.

If you are keen to assist, and would be available in 2021, please consider and let me know:

Do you have a sewing machine?

When would you be available to work?

Would you prefer to be part of a group or to work at home?

The plan is to use the Rose Room at the Jersey Archive in Clarence Road, St Helier, where there is on-site parking available and a kitchen area for making tea and coffee etc.

What day of the week would best/least suit people for a group session?

E.g. would between 10 am to 1 pm and/or between 2 pm to 4.30 pm on a Friday be good for you?

Thank you for your interest in and support of this project. I look forward to hearing from you.

email: julia.coutanche@jerseyheritage.org

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