It is with great sadness I write this post with the news that our much loved sewing friend Jeanne passed away at the beginning of February.

Jeanne had been an enthusiastic Sewing Bee sewer for several years. Starting as a beginner, she built up a wide repertoire of skills from pattern cutting to making a fabulous coat.

Jeanne was an enthusiastic quilter. Her love of colour and design, influenced greatly by her South African heritage, shone through in her work.

Jeanne had a disable daughter and an elderly Mum in care so life was not only hectic but stressful. Jeanne was a tireless campaigner for disability rights and for those disadvantaged in society. Quilts for care leavers amongst many of the projects she supported.

She was generous, compassionate, caring, interested in people, up for a sewing related challenge and very funny.

Paper cut designs from antique roof tile

Paper cut designs from antique roof tile

Wanting to add a personal touch to her work, Jeanne embarked on the two day Art for non-artists course convinced she didn’t have an artistic or design bone in her body. She was then a bit blown away by what she achieved. You can read about it in her blog I have no artistic skills. When I handed her an antique roof tile, scissors, a glue stick and an old magazine her response was hilarious.

Sewing was her haven, her peace, her happy place.

I know for a lot students who come along it isn’t just about learning a skill either. It’s ‘me’ time, time to learn something new after a lifetime of work or family commitments. It can be time to reemerge into the world perhaps after illness or the loss of a loved one.

Classes have never been just about the sewing for me either. They are much much more. They offer the opportunity  to share my love of dressmaking and design with other enthusiasts, many of whom have become valued friends.

I find sewers, like Jeanne, are always friendly, fun and non-judgmental just enjoying the company of others with a shared passion. I am so lucky to do something I love with amazing people.

Although she had been unwell we were in touch in the few weeks before she died never realising how ill she was, always planning her return project. Four days before she died Jeanne rang me from hospital to say she only had a few days left and she wanted to thank me, and I count the other sewing ladies in this as well, for providing such a safe haven when things were tough. It was a heartbreaking conversation that was testament to her courage.

Jeanne, you left us much too soon. I will miss you but I am glad I got to know you. You were an inspiration.

My heart goes out to her husband, daughters and much loved grandsons.