Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Children Taken By the Family Courts" Quilt Project

Battered Women, Abused Children, and Child Custody: A National Crisis

The Battered Mothers Custody Conference

Visit for additional information,hotel reservations, and conference registration.

"Children Taken By the Family Courts" Quilt Project

The Conference has hosted a community quilt entitled "Children Taken by the Family Courts" since 2007. A short news clip showing the quilt at the 2009 conference is available online at .

The quilt is modeled after the AIDS quilt that was started in 1987 and that has since grown tremendously, gaining wide publicity for the cause of combating AIDS and HIV infection.

We are asking mothers who have lost physical custody of their children through family or divorce court proceedings to create a 1.5’ by 3’ fabric panel to commemorate their child(ren).  Panels can be made before the conference and brought or mailed for inclusion in the quilt (see address below).  We will be providing some sewing materials and other necessities so that mothers can work on their panels during the weekend of the conference. Mothers do NOT need to attend the conference in order to have their panel included in the quilt. Complete instructions for creating and mailing panels are below.

Please display the following on the front of your panel:

The first name(s) and last initial(s) of the child(ren) of whom you lost custody as a result of family or divorce court proceedings.

The child(ren)’s date of birth and the county and state of the court system through which you lost custody.

The month and year you lost custody of your child(ren).

Any drawings, artwork, or items that make the panel meaningful to you.

On the back of your finished (backed and hemmed) panel, in an inconspicuous place (one that does not show through to the front) please write YOUR name, phone number, and e-mail address. Please also safety-pin a note to the panel with this information.

Write a statement

Please also take the time to write a statement about your child(ren) and briefly describe how you lost custody. Please include your name, e-mail address and phone number on this statement.


Your design can be vertical or horizontal, but the finished, hemmed panel should be 1.5 feet by 3 feet (45 cm x 90 cm).

The fabric can be traditional quilting material found at any fabric or craft store, or can be made up of scraps pieced together to meet the size requirements.

Batting for the panels is not necessary, but backing made of sturdy fabric is needed to help keep panels clean when they are laid out on the ground. It also helps retain the shape of the fabric.

When you cut your 2 pieces of fabric (panel front and the backing), leave an extra 2 inches on each side for a hem. Please sew your panel and backing pieces together, seams inside (like you are making a pillow), or hem them so that there are no raw seams on the outside. Hand sewing is fine if you don’t have access to a sewing machine. Please just do whatever you are able to do.

You may use most techniques and or embellishments, as long as they are secured well, including but not limited to: appliqué, piecing, embroidery, fabric markers, fabric paints, stenciling, beading, ribbons, sequins, or buttons (see descriptions below). Remember that the quilt will be folded and unfolded every time it is displayed, so durability is crucial. Since glue deteriorates with time, it is best to sew things to the panel.

Appliqué: Sew fabric, letters and small mementos onto the background fabric. Do not rely on glue - it won't last.

Paint: Brush on textile paint or color-fast dye, or use an indelible ink pen. Please don't use "puffy" paint; it's too sticky.

Stencils: Trace your design onto the fabric with a pencil, lift the stencil, then use a brush to apply textile paint or indelible markers.

Collage: Make sure that whatever materials you add to the panel won't tear the fabric (avoid glass and sequins for this reason), and be sure to avoid very bulky objects.

Sending in your panel:

If you will be attending the Battered Mothers Custody Conference, you can work on your panel over the weekend of the conference.  Some guidance and materials will be provided; you also are encouraged to bring materials with you.

If you will not be attending the conference, please ship your finished panel (make sure to use adequate protective waterproof packing material) to:


26 Purtell Avenue

Latham, New York 12110


Thank you!

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