THIS BOOK & CAMPAIGN are about raising awareness and money for the wonderful charity, Fine Cell Work, through the celebration and enjoyment of a beautiful and important project. It's the story of the Sleep Quilt - a quilt about sleep, made by prisoners trained in needlework, and commissioned by best-selling author Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring).
We've reached our goal! But please help us raise even more awareness and money by helping us get to £10,000. We've added a couple of extra rewards to make it easier to buy more copies of the book. A huge thank you to everyone for your support!
Fine Cell Work trains prisoners in paid, skilled and creative needlework. This work gives inmates a chance to use time rewardingly in every sense of the word - the calm, reflective nature of stitching is incredibly valuable in prison life, and the money they earn can go to improving their chances of re-connecting with society after their sentence. Most of the stitchers are men and many of them will never before have had the opportunity to make something beautiful and that will be cherished by others. Ultimately the charity’s aim is to create a sustainable model which will guide prisoners towards formal work training and qualifications to provide support or employment on release.
STORYTracy Chevalier began making quilts as research for her novel The Last Runaway. She soon became a committed quilter, and it was not long before she found out about Fine Cell Work. When curating ‘Things We Do in Bed’ a quilt exhibition for Danson House in south London, she soon realised that here was an opportunity to commission a unique work of art from the prisoners trained by Fine Cell Work – the Sleep Quilt.
The Sleep Quilt consists of 63 panels, each one designed and made by a prisoner and expressing feelings and emotions about sleep – a difficult issue in prison. The panels were then sewn together and hand quilted, also by prisoners. It was not only a rare chance for inmates to express something of their lives, but also a chance for them to work collectively. The resulting piece is insightful and deeply moving, but also exquisitely executed.
PUBLICATIONWhen publisher Alexander Fyjis-Walker of Pallas Athene first saw the Sleep Quilt he knew immediately that he wanted to make a book about it. 'It's such a touching piece - tragic in some places, witty and light-hearted in others, and always so beautifully made. I wanted to bring its designs and ideas to as wide an audience as possible.'The book he designed is a paperback 240 pages long and 145mm (5.7 inches) square. Every one of the 63 panels is featured full-page, and there are also many close-ups of the virtuoso stitching and intricate details. Some of the prisoners have added written explanations of their designs. The introduction is by Tracy Chevalier and explains how the quilt came about and the feelings it arouses. Katy Emck, the director of Fine Cell Work contributes an essay on the charity and what it does, and there are quotations from prisoners explaining what Fine Cell Work has meant to them and how their lives have been turned around by learning the skills of stitching and quilting.The book is printed on luxurious FSC certified (sustainable forestry) 140gsm paper by Park Lane Press. Their waterless printing technology gives an extraordinary intensity of colour and is far more environmentally friendly than standard methods.
Pallas Athene will also be producing a limited edition of a larger, deluxe version of the book. Each panel will be illustrated at near life-size. This book will be 120 pages long, 220mm (8.6 inches) square; it includes the essays by Tracy Chevalier and Katy Emck, and the writings by prisoners. Also printed on FSC paper to the highest eco standards, it will be hand bound in real cloth by Blissetts (book binders to the Queen) with the Fine Cell Works logo stamped on the front in silver.All copies will be numbered, and 131 only will be signed by Tracy Chevalier. Copy no. 1 will be bound with a cover hand quilted specially by Tracy.
Three individual squares have been chosen to print as fine art giclée prints. They will be reproduced at life size on A3 paper ready for framing. The paper is 300gsm 100% cotton traditional mould-made and acid-free, and the pigments are archival quality.
The Fine Cell Work Hub is the charity’s London-based crafts training studio for ex-offenders. Funding has been secured for the building but fundraising is ongoing for the running of the workshop. The site is designed to meet workers’ needs for post-prison support in order to translate their textile skills into real employment.
Money raised by pledges goes to make the Sleep Quilt book project possible. All profits on purses, cushions and quilts will go to Fine Cell Work, who pay prisoners for the work they do. All royalties for the standard and deluxe editions of the book, and for prints, go to Fine Cell Work.
A FEW QUOTES FROM PRISONERS ABOUT FINE CELL WORK
"As I started to do the work I was aware of a feeling of calmness that I was experiencing for the first time since coming to prison. An added bonus was getting to know the other guys doing the work, there was almost a family feeling between them in the way they helped one another and spent time actually talking about things, other than the usual prison talk."Inmate, HMP Albany
"You’re rejected by society and you have to reflect on what you’ve done, and then let go, then you need something in place that you can actually get some self-worth back. With the quilting you go can inside yourself, start creating things and feeling that you actually can belong to society."
Jeffry, HMP Wandsworth
"Perfection is not usually what’s expected in prisons."
Inmate, HMP Wandsworth
HELP US MAKE THE SLEEP QUILT BOOK A REALITY - AND PLEASE DO CONSIDER A PLEDGE THAT INCLUDES ONE OF THESE PIECES MADE BY PRISONERS
- SWAG Purses
A tongue-in-cheek purse with "SWAG" embroidered on its front side and a zip closure.
Designer: Karen Nicol
Ecru cotton and navy denim with a colourfully embroidered "SWAG" design.
Text Colours: Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Yellow
Size: 15x13 cm/6x5 inches (approximately)
Spot clean or machine wash cold with colour catcher.
These quirky and striking cushions were individually made by prisoners using donated wools, and each one is unique.
Needlepoint in wool. Feather cushion included. Size: 35 x 35 cm/14 x 14 inches. Dry clean only.
These small and colourful cot quilts are hand stitched by prisoners. Each individually made quilt is hand appliquéd, pieced and quilted in one of the four prisons in which Fine Cell Work teaches quilting. Each quilt on offer is a one-off.
100% cotton with 100% Polyester filling.
Size: 78 x 87 cm/ 31 x 34 inches (approximately)
Handwash only. Do not iron.
Risks and challenges
Pallas Athene have been publishing books for over twenty five years, and all the suppliers are well known to them. The books have been designed and the risk of not being able to produce them is very low. Delays are possible but very unlikely, as much of the preliminary work has already been done. The Fine Cell Work pieces are also fully prepared.
We will keep all supporters updated with progress.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)