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Quilting project needs volunteers to stitch in

Loved 4 Life quilters Peta Campbell and Margaret Fawcett. PHOTOS/MARY ARGUE

If you’re a dab hand with needles, threads and swatches of fabric, your skills are needed to help welcome new taonga to the Wairarapa region.

Loved 4 Life’s Masterton chapter is on a mission to provide each newborn pepi [baby] in the Masterton district with a hand-stitched, personalised quilt as a tangible expression of appreciation, support and aroha for young whanau.

The charitable organisation, one of 15 Loved 4 Life chapters throughout the North Island, was first formed in Masterton by Whaiora in 2014, and eventually taken over by quilters Rowan Anderson and Peta Campbell.

Since the co-leaders took ownership in 2016, the Masterton group has produced over 2000 quilts, making it one of the highest-producing chapters in the country.

The chapter, made up of seven sowers, aims to make a quilt for each new baby living in Masterton and Eketahuna whose family requests it, with orders coming in thick and fast from Plunket, Whaiora, and midwives.

At present, the organisation is calling for more crafters to come on board to help it keep up with demand.

Co-leader Peta Campbell said the Masterton group produced a total of 343 quilts in the last calendar year and, this year, has already completed 219.

“We’ll probably get up to about 300 before the end of the year. Which is an awful lot of quilts,” Campbell said.

“Each fortnight, we get a big envelope full of requests on behalf of the mums. We’ve just fulfilled three big orders, and we’ve got another big handful on the go at the moment.

“It is a lot of work, especially for a small group of people.”

Anderson said other quilting groups in the region regularly pitch in to help, including the Village Quilters club in Greytown, the Wairarapa Quilters’ Guild, and Carterton’s Loved 4 Life chapter, which services the southern Wairarapa area.

However, extra support from Masterton sowers would be gratefully received.

“It’s a wonderful and very rewarding project to be part of,” Anderson said.

“Mums love the idea that the community supports them enough to make a gift for them and their family, one that a lot of love and care has gone into.

“It’s a way for us to tell our mums they are valued. That, as mothers, their work is appreciated, they are an important part of our community, and what they have produced is really precious.

“I think they feel happy to know they are seen and acknowledged and our quilters are happy to create something beautiful to support them.”

A Loved 4 Life quilt is usually 60cm square, and made from 100 per cent cotton, and comes with a personalised label and certificate for each baby.

The quilts feature the word “loved” or “aroha” and “a small handful of hearts” stitched into the fabric and have four ribbons which can be tied in knots to memorialise milestones in the baby’s progress, such as their first smile or first word.

Anderson said the chapter receives support from Trust House to cover the pricier materials, such as the brushed cotton and batting for the inside layers, while the quilting fabric is usually donated by the community.

Quilts are delivered by the family’s support organisations, which often have “great feedback” to bring back to the sewers.

“For example, a Plunket nurse will visit a new mum and she’ll be holding her baby in her arms, wrapped in a quilt,” Anderson said.

“Some parents have been supported by Loved 4 Life since we started, they’re now having their second or third baby, and they’re still requesting a new quilt.

“And they make sure to keep their first quilt in the baby’s special drawer, so they can pass it on to the next generation.”

  • If you would like to support the Loved 4 Life Masterton chapter, call Rowan Anderson on 027 358 4445.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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