I’ve been thinking about the design of quilt number five for quite a while. When I first decided that I would make a quilt with the theme of FGM (female genital mutilation) I did a bit of research on art work. A lot of the work is focused on pictorial representations of FGM and female genitals . I can see the reasoning behind this approach but I wanted to do something different.
While I was pondering what direction my design might take UKIP (a right wing political party in the UK) published their manifesto. It included the UKIP plan to end FGM which was basically to do ‘knicker checks’ on young girls at school. I was initially speechless. How anyone can think that the way to stop abuse / violation of a child’s human rights is to further abuse their human rights is mind-boggling.
UKIP were a bit vague on the details but seemed to be suggesting a bizarre knicker checking version of the school nit nurse. When I was a kid every so often we’d all have to line up and get checked by the school nurse for any signs of head lice (nits). Anyone found to have nits got sent home with a note for their parents advising immediate use of nit shampoo and the nit comb. Of course if you were identified as having nits you were also then subject to a certain amount of teasing from your class mates despite the nurse making it clear that nits liked to live in only the cleanest hair. Imagine what it would feel like to be identified as being at risk of FGM then sent for a compulsory knicker check. What if a child says no ? would they physically restrain them ?
Thankfully most people seem to recognise this plan of UKIPs as a ridiculous idea but they put it in their manifesto and when challenged about it on social media a lot of UKIP members strongly defended their plan even to the extent of telling long time FGM campaigners that UKIP knows better how to end FGM.
So I started thinking about how to end FGM rather than explaining what FGM is. I’ll be writing more about my research into this and how I’m going to incorporate it into the quilt but basically the focus needs to be on bringing about behavioural change in communities and you don’t bring about behavioural change by violating human rights.
Having settled on a direction for the issue the quilt would highlight I returned to the design. I have decided to use one of my favourite quilt designs. The Cariad quilt from the book Making Welsh Quilts by Mary Jenkins and Clare Claridge. It’s the quilt in the top left hand corner of the cover of the book. Cariad means sweetheart in Welsh.
I would recommend this book to any quilters or those interested in textile history. Welsh quilts can appear very simple in the design of the patchwork traditionally being a medallion design. For Welsh quilters the art was in the quilting. Although the patchwork designs are simple I love the bold use of colours and particularly like the designs using solid colours rather than patterned fabric.
For quilt number five I’ve decided to update the design by choosing a different colour selection. I’ve chosen a lovely lemon and contrasting grey cotton fabric to give a fresh modern look.
I spent this afternoon cutting out the templates for the design and once I’ve finished quilt number four I’ll get started on the construction. I’m planning on machine piecing but haven’t decided yet whether to hand or machine quilt. I’d quite like to hand quilt and use some of the quilting designs from the Making Welsh Quilts book but time might mean I end up doing a combination of machine and hand quilting. I will of course also be incorporating some embroidery relating to the theme of the quilt.
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