Monday, October 23, 2006

Inspirational and Institutional Quilting

The arts have long been a way of getting through to troubled teens. Dance, theater, fine art, etc. have all been used to help break down barriers and to inspire kids to achievement. Recently NPR had a program about a succesful theater program in a prison. The recidivism rate went down drastically for those who participated.

Now, I find that quilting and sewing programs have had success in prisons.. Here is a shop featuring items made by inmates. And these lovely quilts!! Today's whip up has an excellent article about another program: Handmade in Prison. These programs are in the UK, and I certainly admire the people who organized and promoted the programs themselves-- as well as those who volunteer to teach.

I did a little research and discovered that Alex Anderson of Simply Quilts has done an episode with Lani Longshore about quilting in a women's prison. And yet another article on the topic. Obviously, my head has been buried in the sand; I thought this was a new and rare idea.

Well, it may be in wider practice than I thought, but it still a wonderful idea!


  1. What a great idea! There are both state and federal prisons in my county plus a state woman's prison. I need to see if anyone is doing something like this here that I could help with.

  2. How interesting!

    I always thought that prisoners couldn't use scissors and so ruled out the possibility of sewing. I know that crochet is very popular.

  3. My sister gives such classes in a prison here in Belgium. There are many rules but she still manages to realise projects with the women there.This week's project is making Christmas cards in scrapbook style out of old wall paper sample books.

  4. A year or so ago at a GSQA meeting they had some absolutely gorgeous quilts they showed that were made by men in prison. I don't remember all the details, but they were sewn by hand and had won some kind of award at a show. They've also asked for donations/volunteers at the meetings before. Man, bad memory really bites.

  5. Fran - It is a great idea, isn't it? I wish I'd seen the SQ episode where they actually went in the prison and observed things in progress.

    Debra - I have to wonder about the scissors part, too. The inmates are probably chosen with care, but I suppose would still require careful monitoring.

    Judy - I'd love to see some pictures of your sister in action and some of the Christmas cards!

    Delta - Isn't it fascinating? If you find out about donations, let me know. Also, can't help but wonder if we put more of these programs in schools and juvenile centers would the prison population eventually decrease?

  6. Fine Cell Work (what a great name) There was someone on the blog ring who had a friend that taught sewing/quilting in a women's prison in OH...I sent some scraps to her. Check with Sue at What's Up (#40 on the current AQ blog ring list).


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