Quilts in a Crisis
MOLLIE SPARKLES RECALLS THE EVENTS OF DECEMBER 16, 2015 IN SYDNEY’S CBD, AS AN HORRIFIC HOSTAGE SITUATION UNFOLDED INSIDE LINDT CAFE. LIKE MANY OF US, HE FELT COMPELLED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE VICTIMS AND THE FAMILIES AFFECTED, AND THE BEST WAY HE KNEW HOW TO DO THIS – WAS TO MAKE….
And the ‘Sewing for Sydney’ campaign was Mollie’s response. He describes it like this.
“As I watched the news unfolding the next day to discover that two innocent people in our community, Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, lost their lives in this tragedy, I was left with such a heavy heart. Every part of my being demanded that I respond, and all I knew to do was, well, quilt. So I put out a call to the Glitterati (friends and fans of Molli Sparkles) around the world to participate in a quilt block donation program. The ‘Sewing for Sydney’ campaign started on Instagram but quickly overflowed to my blog, and messages of help were spread through Facebook as well. The power of social media has played an enormous role in this campaign.” Mollie Sparkles
What is the design that you chose to use in the blocks?
I asked participants to make a hashtag block from a tutorial on my blog because I felt it could represent the individuality of a person, and when combined with hundreds of others, they would show the grand diversity of the world. As the blocks started to be sewn together, I also saw that they were holding hands, forming a truly unique network of love.
You started out to make two quilts – what was the initial response from your blog followers and how has this target now changed?
In a word: overwhelming! The initial idea was to make two quilts, one for each of the families of Katrina and Tori. As the target number of blocks needed to make those quilts was reached after delivery day four, I knew I had to increase my goal. The project has now concluded with thirteen finished quilts, enough to give quilts to all of Katrina and Tori’s immediate family members, including partners, parents, children and siblings.
The deadline to receive blocks was in January – how many did you get and where are they from?
I left the window to receive blocks open for a month. During this time I received 2,169 blocks from about 350 individual contributors. Some people sent one block, while others sent thirty. Packages came from four continents, fifteen countries, and every state in Australia. This really has been a global effort!
How did you manage such a potentially daunting project?
When I put the call out for help the week before Christmas, I wasn’t expecting much of a response due to the holiday season. When I started getting dozens of packages each day I knew I was going to need even more help! I set up project teams of additional volunteers who could work together to assemble, quilt, bind and donate the necessary additional materials for each quilt. Thankfully, I even had a corporate volunteer donate all of the pre-paid postage satchels so elements of the quilts could be sent to the next team member upon completion. While I trimmed all of those two thousand blocks, I really acted as more of a project coordinator for the other fifty or so volunteers responsible for bringing them into fruition.
What stage are you at now – and what happens next?
Eleven of the thirteen quilts are finished and the other two are nearly there. I’m currently in discussions with members from the NSW government on how to gift these quilts with sincerity, respect, and in the most timely manner possible.
Is there anything that you need help with, anything that you need?
Along with the thousands of blocks people have contributed, there were many people who wanted to help who didn’t sew, or didn’t have the time to give during the collection period. I set up an account so those people could donate money to fund necessary supplies as a way to still contribute to this project. Amazingly, over $1,100 has been raised! All the extra funds not used for the quilts will be donated to the two charities selected by the families of Katrina and Tori, the Katrina Dawson Foundation and Beyond Blue, respectively.
What’s your overall feeling about the campaign now?
I really wouldn’t change a thing. I learned a lot about what I’m capable of, but I learned even more about the capability of our community when we join forces for the better good. As the label on these quilts says, “A quilt is a hug that lasts forever,” and the world really needs more hugs these days.