'Being Intimate':
The Story of a Quilting Bee

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Quilting Bees traditionally offered women the opportunity to simultaneously share the company of others and be practical. More usually individual pieces, or quilt squares, were made separately and stitched together on a frame when the group came together. Quilting Bees were particularly important in building and maintaining bonds with other women separated by distance, such as rural America . Amongst my favourites are the Quilts of Gee's Bend, and I am particularly fond of quilts made from cloth that is worn and usually discarded, this would include the pieced 'boro' quilts of Japan.

Historically, quilts fulfilled a practical function, they enabled the reuse of outgrown or worn out cloth - which was often at a premium - and the creation of warm and necessary bedding. Contemporary quilts are rarely inspired by such need, but do borrow the aesthetic and also processes of historical quilting. 

'Being Intimate' is an art quilt inspired by the tradition of the Quilting Bee. Students and staff of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King's College explored emotional and physical intimacy through the deconstruction, piecing and stitching together of their own worn underwear. Our Bee includes five midwifery students (four women and one man) and two female teaching staff. 

 

I really needed today. After an emotionally intense study day, which has left me feeling wrung out like an old washcloth, to sit and unpick has helped me re-centre and process some of my emotion.

 

We have had some lovely, open conversations about grief and emotional upset tonight […] I hope it helped everyone as much as me.

 

Very sad to be finishing, although it’s not really the end […] It feels very like spring today and like we’ve used this quilt to pull through winter. This quilting project has been a highlight of my year. 

 

 

 

Midwifery Students quilting at The International Day of the Midwife celebrations, King's College, London.

Midwifery Students quilting at The International Day of the Midwife celebrations, King's College, London.