Radiotopia quilt

I recently finished a craft project that I started nearly two years ago.

In Radiotopia’s 2015 fundraiser, I offered a bespoke quilt ‘featuring the short epithet, monogram or letter of your choice’, in return for a $1234 donation. The quilt was bought by the generous Leigh. She requested the phrase ‘The news is good’, which is something she and her husband say to each other, when reporting on their inner state.

I sketched out a few different layouts and colour schemes and Leigh chose this one:

And a mere 21 months and c.2,500 patches later, it turned into this:

The patches are each about 3cm square. They’re mostly cotton. I can see fabric bought on trips across the US; vintage scraps from Annette who used to run my favourite local vintage shop in Crystal Palace; offcuts from my brother’s late mother-in-law; old clothes, curtains, sheets; leftovers from giant patchwork tablecloths I made for my wedding; wax prints from the African fabric shops near me in south London. The wadding is bamboo, and the backing is anchors:

Yup, that’s hand stitching you see! The whole thing is sewn by hand, aside from two lines of stitching to affix the border.

Here’s Leigh with her quilt:

Such little squares meant I could use parts of a print as several different colours, and in numerous contexts. Depending on which area of the quilt it’s used in, the same patch could be light rather than dark, or red rather than purple. I kept the patches in four ziploc bags, one for red/orange/yellow, one for blue/purple, one for green, and one for black/white/grey. With all the faces and objects in the prints, stitching them into place next to each other was like assembling a very simple comic strip. You can have a look at more details of the quilt in the slideshow at the end of the post.

Right now, it’s Radiotopia‘s annual fundraiser again. I always feel quite sentimental during them, as it was 2014’s fundraiser that allowed me to start The Allusionist, which has turned out to be the greatest job of my life and my existence is much changed as a result of it.

If you haven’t heard the show yet, it’s at If you have, and you enjoyed it, and you could afford to chuck in some money to keep it going, you can become a supporter at As well as helping all the Radiotopia shows to exist and make our best work, there are some excellent Radiotopia socks and other marvellous gifts as well, although the handwritten Allusionist letters sold out already. Hopefully it will take me less than 21 months to complete those.

Also! All recurring and new donors will get a set of special stickers; the more donors, the more stickers everyone gets. There’s one for each show, but the Allusionist sticker won’t be unlocked unless the number of donors reaches 20,000, so even a $1 donation makes us all that bit closer to being able to plaster ourselves with a sticker featuring some of the most hilarrible portmantNOs. You know what to do, loves. Get it done at

Click images to enlarge:

6 Comments to “Radiotopia quilt”

  1. Helen, this is absolutely incredible – I’m in awe of the detail and the whole – remarkable,
    …makes me wonder about trying my hand at this – have you got any tips?

    Cheers for being awesome,

  2. This is a real work of love, Helen, and is utterly beautiful. Stitching as a gift, or as a collective act of generosity is something that once happened in every household, but then was lost. We should all come together to stitch and meditate or share support. It reminds me of the wonderful Cloth of Kindness by Sally Anne Lomas. You might want to take a look:

  3. Wow, so much thought went into this…it’s lovely.

  4. This is worth more than $1234

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