Women who Mean Business selling Gippsland 's Finest
  Meeniyan Quilt Project



This Project aims to connect women in our region, to encourage confidence and trust, and to create an outcome that is evidence of the networking that occurs.

There are five stages :

  1. workshop in creative writing - the participants wrote their own stories
  2. workshop in bookbinding (the stories will go into a book)
  3. photograph of each member - print images onto fabric using cyanotype (blueprint)
  4. workshop in quiltmaking
  5. the squares of fabric made into a quilt.


We met at Meeniyan Uniting Church Hall, the venue in-kind. Bert van Bedaf gave an overall introduction to the aims and intentions of the workshop, then had us work in groups to create a mission statement for the project.

We then put the mission statements on the board and reached a consensus mission statement :

"This quilt celebrates the diversity of women in South Gippsland, the ages, stages and paths that bring them together, creating a blanket of support for all."

We were asked to bring something to spark an idea for a story (eg. photographs) and were put in groups of four to interview one another, utilizing the object as a basis. This inspired such an outpouring of energy, that the stories were really easy to write.

We began writing, then went to lunch, where the synergy was palpable. After lunch we finished writing our stories, then one by one, read them out, to laughter, tears and much applause. There were some women unable to attend that day, but they were sent copies of other letters, and have since written their stories.


The creative writing day was empowering for us in different ways.

  • For some, it was the fact that they could write at all, that they found the confidence to articulate thoughts and feelings; for others, that they were able to connect with an item (eg. Susan brought her grandmother's brooch, and realized that it was through her grandmother that she had learned to sew and to create beautiful fiberworks); for Helen, that she could end the day with a story despite dyslexia; and for others, the surprise that they actually had a story to tell, that their story was valuable.
  • The idea that this could be broadened and deepened to include telling stories about family etc.
  • The support that each of us received from the others was deeply connecting.
  • Friendships and networking flowed on from there.


Peter Lendon, from Yarragon bookshop came at 9 am to the workshop behind Meeniyan Art Gallery. Ten women attended and we were shown examples of books that could be made with bookbinding techniques that would be covered during the day.

We were given a kit and began work - folding 8 pages times 7 : clamping and sawing grooves for sewing : sewing the book together : creating the form : the hard-back cover : marbled papers onto the cover : buckram, cheesecloth, endpapers, index ribbon, headband : finishing the book. We learned about glues, materials, papers, threads, knots, stitches, and asked lots of questions, all of which Peter answered in detail.

We learned about traditional bookbinding, including the culture surrounding it, what the females were allowed to do, what the males were allowed to do. It was wonderful, and, at the end of the day, the women gave accolades to Peter, who had himself thoroughly enjoyed the day, and each of us went home with a beautiful hardback book to treasure.


  • Sense of achievement - some women thought they would have to observe (particularly Avril, who has just had her wrist taken out of plaster), but each person was thrilled with her finished book.
  • Level of enjoyment - everybody raved about how much fun they had had.
  • Ripple effect - many of the women bought another kit to make another book, and many said they would visit the Yarragon bookshop to purchase more supplies.
  • There was a deepening of relationships among the women : Beverley has set a date to work with four of the women to give them a meditation day three women have joined into the VicWalk group, discussed during the workshop friendships have spread and women have organized to get together socially
  • There was a lot of discussion about how we will create our book for the Project : we want to do a papermaking day (Meg to teach, in-kind), to make the paper for our book we will discuss incorporating extra blueprint photographs onto the cover/inside the book we will discuss increasing the scale of the book (we made half A4 size on Saturday)


  • The quilt, the book and the story of the development of the quilt available to tour to South Gippsland Shire Council Chambers, other regions and to State Government in Melbourne.
  • Quilting bees were, traditionally, a way for women to achieve close, supportive relationships whilst creating beautiful quilts - they remain thus.
  • a valuable and symbolic collaborative experience is achieved.
  • the workshops in creative writing, bookbinding, blueprint onto fabric and quiltmaking will assist women in identifying skills that they may not have been aware they had (ie. aesthetic presentation, creative thinking and problem solving skills).
  • these skills can be further developed toward career/business potential.
  • women contributing to community life and being effective is a valuable lesson, a visible example to inspire children, grandchildren, peers and community.
  • ripple effect : skills developed can be passed on to interested members of the community - women in the community seeing the quilt project may wish to create a similar collaborative project, and could appoint members of the project to tutor them.
  • in-kind involvement. Please refer to the budget. The in-kind contributions are $1930.
  • self-esteem is strengthened by recognizing and developing skills.
  • self-confidence is sustained by ongoing projects that are the outcome of collaboration
  • we have already built a valuable network of trust.


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