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Patchwork on Central Park

quilt making brings out the personal in people

148 Burke Rd Malvern East 3145 VIC AU

+61 (0)3 9885 4480

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I get the impression that Jenny Kingwell was a wonderful midwife. She tells me that she needed a change from that career, as the significance of mother's in labour and her part in assisting the births always drew her to accept more and more shifts. She says, "On my days off when I was asked to come in to work, I couldn't say no because I thought I was only hanging around at home." Jenny is now one-third in a group of women who run a business named 'Patchwork on Central Park.' The other ladies are Lynn Clay and Meredithe Clark and they opened 'Patchwork on Central Park' in November 2000 in their Malvern East premises.

Jenny is the owner present on the day I have come to visit the store. As we sit at a quilt covered table I listen to Jenny as she voices her enjoyment of the quality of fabrics sold at the store, the interactions between fellow staff and customers, and the shop's role in the community. "A lady who works in a nearby shop sat in here for a few hours as I was teaching her some quilting technique. She observed interactions between myself and other customers... many tell me private things, that they've lost a breast to cancer for example. When we had finished, the neighbouring shopkeeper commented 'this isn't just a retail shop is it.' Quilt making brings out the personal in people."

The fabrics in 'Patchwork on Central Park' are a talking point as you walk around the shop. Jenny tells, "We're not huge on offering what other people (shopkeepers) have. In fact, we look to sell what other shops don't have." And much of the difference between this shop and others is the philosophy of sourcing materials to suit the broad spectrum of colours and patterns available to the 'Home Decorator' industry. And so the fabrics' of 'Patchwork on Central Park' stand out distinctly from the muddy, muted hues of the "American civil war"-influenced fabrics adorning traditional patchwork quilts.

'Patchwork on Central Park' celebrates bright, clear colours printed with quality dyes, and in homespun cottons and in polyester for practicality. For you readers in the know, the fabric brands available are Cabbages and Roses, Shabby Chic, Kath Kidston, and Liberty amongst many others. But I saw roses, lavender and other flora that I wanted to reach out and touch, rich contrasting stripes, spots, glittering stars, clowns, bears, traditional Japanese prints, and I was dazzled. There is nothing to remind me of pilgrims, cabins made of cedar, carriage wagons, and other rusticities here.

While I was pottering around taking photos, a young mother carrying her child, not more than eight months old came into the shop to seek advice on making a keepsake quilt for her little girl. She had given each element of the quilt to those caring people in her baby's life, in which to decorate in their own fashion. The customer asks, "my own mother is away at the moment, normally I'd ask her about this... Do you mind? Do you think this idea will work?" I admired how quickly Jenny conveyed nurturing that wasn't overstepping her role as salesperson but satisfied her customer with good advice.

Jenny, Lynn and Meredithe all belong to the Waverley Patchworker's Guild. Thousands of women participate in Patchworker and Quilt making guilds all around Australia. The significance of these guilds is the support and friendship the ladies are able to offer each other through their regular get-togethers but also of the amazing work they do for their community. The Waverley Patchworker's Guild offers many handmade quilts to charities for auctions and raffle competitions. One charity the guild is active with is 'Cara House' a home for abused adolescent girls. Jenny tells me that the ladies give girls who enter 'Cara House' the gift of a quilt of their own handmade from the guild. The guild is assured that this gesture aids to soften the hearts of the girls who at first were cautious to trust in anyone's generosity. Jenny tells me, "Often when the girls are packing to leave the house the first item they pack is their quilt which has become precious to them." I responded saying, "Women are great aren't they!" Jenny smiles and with certainty says, "Yes."

'Patchwork on Central Park' conducts classes from Monday through to Saturday in both day and evening time slots. There are ten teachers available in the shop's upstairs classroom. You can join 'Patchwork on Central Park's' mailing list to keep informed of new classes. The classes are a great social occasion as many choose to form groups who continue to meet weekly or fortnightly, long after class completion.

If like me you believe that your sewing machine may regard you as a jinx, 'Patchwork on Central Park' also sells ready-made quilts and they are gorgeous, timeless pieces. Although I wonder, would I not like to give it a try?

this page last modified on April 22 2007 ~ this site open since 23 August 2001 - © 2001 - 2023 shopworthy

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