Crafted from scraps of material left over from the production of 64,000 handmade masks and scrub caps, Windsor Essex Sewing Force’s community quilt is a legacy of collaboration.
The 180 block quilt, unveiled Thursday morning during a ceremony at city hall, hangs on a custom-made display stand constructed by the Art Gallery of Windsor. It will be on view in the lobby of Windsor’s city hall for six weeks.
Titled Made With Love: Windsor-Essex Community Responds to the Pandemic, the 30-foot-long by six-foot-high quilt is a reflection of how far the community has come since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, said Mayor Drew Dilkens.
Dilkens recalled the beginning of the pandemic, the fear in the community, the closure of businesses, the initial lack of information and the evolving messages about the virus, as well as the shortages of personal protective equipment.
He said many of the quilt blocks represent the trials and tribulations that the community went through during the pandemic.
Windsor Essex Sewing Force volunteers used their skills to meet the community need, Dilkens said, adding the city donated space to work and materials and corporate partnerships were formed.
“They weren’t doing something for fun, they were doing something out of necessity that was so important and that’s why today is so important,” Dilkens said.
Rebecca Rudman, co-founder of the grassroots sewing group, along with Patricia Savage, said the quilt is a celebration of the work of many volunteers and the community pulling together.
“We wanted to leave a legacy of the positivity of our community,” Rudman said. “We wanted to honour and reference health care workers and organizations that played key roles during the pandemic, so blocks reference them.”
Using many different sewing techniques, including applique and embroidery, the colourful blocks display many symbols of the pandemic, including physical distancing messaging and health care symbols, as well as personal messages.
A team of seven worked for a month to put the quilt together, Savage said.
“We appreciate the talent, the craftsmanship that went into this,” said Gisele Seguin, a director with the Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation.
“But to me the quilt is just a natural extension because it means it’s going to be a lasting reminder of what this community battled together as partners,” she said. “And we’re truly, truly appreciative to everyone, especially the sewers, but all the partners who made this possible.”
Dr. Ken Drouillard of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, which along with WE-SPARK Health Institute provided evidence-based research to help create quality protective masks and caps, also praised the community effort.
“This quilt is a lasting testament and symbol of just what Windsor is,” Drouillard said.