Community Projects

MASIBAMBANE - Let`s hold hands together - is a word coined by interested parties from our previously disadvantaged communities.

MASIBAMBANE - Let`s hold hands together - is a word coined by interested parties from our previously disadvantaged communities.

The outreach programme was started in 1999 with objectives defined as:
1. Bringing together of women whom would otherwise be isolated in their homes/rooms.
2.The creation of opportunities to socialise and share ideas.
3.The development of a sense of pride in providing self-made articles both for themselves and their homes.
4. The development of hand-eye co-ordination, an important asset in life in general.
5. The creation of opportunities to participate in income generating projects.
6. The creation of something useful and aesthetically beautiful, using left-over fabric.
7. The creation of opportunities for cross-cultural experiences.
Progress has been made in the last couple of years and many Outreach groups have started countrywide. Some ladies are already quilting on order while others are helping with the backbreaking job of sandwiching.
The need, however, is great and I would like to appeal to quilters and manufacturers to please help the South African quilters in reaching their objectives in this programme. Anything, that a quilter could use, will be most welcome. Contributions can be made to SAQG COMUNITY PROJECTS PROGRAMME

Progress has been made in the last decade and many Outreach projects have started countrywide.  This is giving all of our quilters the opportunity to be involved in some kind of outreach projects and the lives of others.To the quilter it is an opportunity to share from our wealth of fabrics, knowledge and skills. It is an opportunity to help promoting the art of quilt-making in South Africa.  Outreach is giving us the opportunity to educate the quilter and the public and to encourage high standards of design and workmanship.

In South Africa it means we are helping our fellow South Africans, who are interested in quilting, to obtain the knowledge and skills.  We are helping them to generate funds and we are helping them to enjoy the therapeutic value of quilting as a hobby.

The South African Quilters’ Guild was founded in 1989 at the Bloemfontein National Quilt Festival with the purpose of fostering a structured environment where all South Africans can reach their full potential in quilt-making and related textile art, nationally and internationally. If we are active in outreach projects, we are working towards the purpose of SAQG.

An outreach project is giving us the opportunity to create and write our own history on quilt making in South Africa.

Kwa Zulu -Natal

Kwa Zulu -Natal

The "Community Quilts" group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Nimble Fingers. Our members originally came from the Grassroots Guild but there are now also some Village Quilters. We have been busy in 2010: we started by giving 24 quilts to deserving families and children in Richmond. A really good quilt was donated to a retirement home to raffle for funds. Another quilt was used by the group to raise funds with which to purchase more batting. In October 2010 we heard about Mr & Mrs Duma who do wonderful work looking after 34 orphans. The group had a trip to their "Tholuthande" home in the Valley and everyone was given a quilt. We hope to, in this way, bring warmth and colour into their lives. Any interested quilters are welcome: contact Elizabeth Woodcock 031 765 7247

The Sharpeville Memorial Quilt

The Sharpeville Memorial Quilt

This quilt was made by local beginner quilters under leadership of Susan Sittig to commemorate the Sharpeville upraising against the pass laws on 21 March 1960.

Kopanang Community Project

Kopanang Community Project

Kopanong Community Trust (KCT) is a non profit organisation situated in the Eastern township of Tsakane.  The membership of embroidery ladies come together once a week to share their life stories and earn an income from their beautiful handwork.  KCT has built up to around 55 members since 2001.  Eight of these women were chosen to be part of the ‘Quilting Ladies’ group and have steadily begun to learn the art of patchwork piecing and quilting.  The Australasian Quilt Convention, held from 10th to 13th April in Melbourne Australia, invited Kopanang for the second time (the first visit in 2008) to represent South Africa.  Nobuhle – their masterpiece was sewn by the KCT members.  Nobuhle means “More than beautiful” and was sold for a princely sum.  In the photograph, standing alongside the Nobuhle exhibit is Refilwe Nancy Mogane and Silindile Immaculate Twala who were invited by the AQC organisers to have the exhibit and an extensive stand to sell their wares at the AQC.  We are very proud of all that they have achieved – most especially the many orders for products from their collection which Refilwe and Silindile brought back to South Africa, thereby creating more income for the members.  All the above adds great value to the lives of the women and brings with it dignity and respect. Well done, ladies.  For more information about Kopanang Community Trust – visit or contact KCT at their email address or

Keiskamma Art Project

Keiskamma Art Project


The Keiskamma Art Project is based in Hamburg (which is situated about halfway between Port Alfred and East London on the R72).  It was started in 2000 by Carol Hofmeyr, a medical doctor and fine artist, along with the help of Jan Chalmers (of Oxford, UK) and Jackie Jezewski (of Brantome, France). Carol began teaching arts and crafts to a handful of women who began by collecting the plastic bags that littered the village. They then crocheted these into hats and bags, and from those humble beginnings the Art Project has developed and grown into producing art works of great significance, enabling crafters in their skill to the scale where their work is sold locally and internationally as premium art.  The initial intention was to ensure that Art and Health interject to create meaning and hope to a people who had been struggling from decades of abuse and poverty. 

Approximately 130 local African artists and crafters from the Keiskamma/Hamburg area collaborate together to make up the community who create commissioned tapestries and other items for sale.  These can be viewed on their website at .   It provides much needed income and a creative outlet for many people of this disadvantaged area. 

There are five different specialist art studios (Beading, Felt-making, Embroideries, Ceramics and Print-making), which offer high quality hand-made African crafts and with each item sold, much needed income improves the lives of the locals, and money is ploughed directly back into community upliftment.  The Art Project is administered by twelve local managers and group leaders who help ensure the high quality of the works for sale.

One of the most significant pieces of work to come out of the Keiskamma Art Project is what is known as the Keiskamma Tapestry.  This is an exquisite 120-metre embroidery (made in the same vein as the famous Bayeux Tapestry which is a 70-metre tapestry depicting the Norman Invasion of England in1066), and is found in the entrance to the South African Parliament, winding its way along the wall, reaching through the lobby and wrapping around the exterior of the Chamber.  It was made by over 100 previously unemployed women from the Eastern Cape, and tells of the turbulent history of the Cape Frontier region, from the Stone Age San through the wars and tragedies of the Xhosa people to the peaceful resolution of the 1994 elections. 

Created with funding from the Department of Arts and Culture, along with funding from over 100 private donors, it was bought by the Standard Bank for R500 000 and loaned as a long-term exhibit to Parliament.  The site continues …

“The artwork's presence in Parliament reflects the kinder, more vibrant and open nature of post-apartheid South Africa. Under the old regime, forbidding portraits of the 1961 Cabinet stared down from the walls of the austere lobby - including one of HF Verwoerd, the architect of grand apartheid. Interestingly, Verwoerd features on the tapestry, at the Rand Show in 1961 - the site of the first assassination attempt against him - and right next to an image of Nelson Mandela burning his pass book during the ANC's 1959 defiance campaign”.

The website lists many other significant art pieces which these crafters have made, and which have travelled internationally (and yes, its a seriously long list – too long to mention here!).  The work that these people have done is truly inspiring but I thought that the Keiskamma Tapestry is of particular importance to us – especially as it started out from humble beginnings in Outreach work, and has gone on to such great heights – empowering individuals to become skilled, and enabling them to earn an income.  The Tapestry is also significant as it tells of our collective history and will no doubt become a heritage piece to be viewed and enjoyed by everyone who sees it for years to come. 

Alexandria, Eastern Cape

Alexandria, Eastern Cape


Around the time of the Rainbow Nation’s new beginnings in 1994, and with our country mired down with rampant HIV and Aids, many folk were silently suffering and dying, having been isolated and ostracized due to the stigmatisation of the disease.  Reverend Pam Goodwin of St David’s Anglican Church of the Bushman’s River/Kenton-on-Sea area (in the Eastern Cape) was working in the area, and also ministering in the St Matthew’s Anglican Church of Marselle and Ekuphumleni.  She approached Hennie Delport (the one and only male member of the Dias Quilters Guild who lived in the nearby area), to come and assist her with craft classes for these people to be held at the church.  In the early days, folk came to the church to receive food parcels, but Pam knew that something more fulfilling was required.  Her aim for the group was to provide a centre of friendship and care and to pass on skills to keep the women-folk involved and occupied.  She also wanted in some way to provide them with the potential to earn an income.

Hennie agreed, and started a patchwork group which initially met once a month but due to its popularity, it now meets every first and third Tuesday afternoon of the month, with around 10-15 regular, active members.  Over time it has developed into a “true sanctuary” for these participants where each person experiences a deep sense of belonging and self-worth. 

The Dias Quilters Guild of Port Elizabeth assisted Hennie (and continues to do so) by passing on fabric off-cuts and sewing notions for the group.  All the work in the beginning was done by hand and small sewing projects were embarked upon.  However, they are now making large quilts and wall-hangings and have even been given commissioned work.  Their first work to receive public acclaim was showcased at the National Quilt Festival held in Port Elizabeth in 2006, where they won first prize in the Outreach Group category.

All the quilts that these members produce are sold at their local annual exhibition, which is open to the public, and 25% of the profits are ploughed back into the group to stock up on necessary requirements, etc.  Over time the work of the Life Skills Support Group expanded to include other aspects.  It also encompasses educational, sport, and play times with the children of these and other women of the community, and in more recent years they have also established a foster home for abused children in crisis from within the community.   The sewing and quilting skills that these women have acquired has made them feel very proud of their achievements, but they would be the first to say that life is much bigger than that as they have encountered companionship in each other, and experienced mutual love, support and respect.  They themselves have also been able to reach out and beyond their own needs.

A wonderful article highlighting the St David’s Life Skills Support Group project was published in the Threads and Crafts Magazine, No 57, issued in 2006, showing off their award-winning quilt.  There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the tremendous success of this group is largely due to multi-talented, multi-skilled Hennie who has tirelessly, selflessly and sacrificially invested into the lives of these women over very many years, as well as with the assistance of other long-serving helpers from St David’s Church at Bushman’s River, along with the visionary Revd Pam Goodwin’s faithful input.  We salute them all!

1. Bloemfontein, Free State

1. Bloemfontein, Free State

The Oranje Quilters' Guild in Bloemfontein have started reaching out to girls in a childrens' home called "Ons Kinderhuis" As these girls come from broken homes and difficult situations, no surnames are used to preserve their privacy. Seen here are some of the girls together with quilt teachers Marline Turner and Roma Dunn in a class at the National Quilt Festival, Kaleidoscope, held in Bloemfontein in July 2013.

Tambani Embroidery Project, Venda

Tambani Embroidery Project, Venda

    Dr Ina le Roux (who spent several years as a lecturer in the Department of Afrikaans Literature at the University of Venda, in the ‘unknown place of Thohoyandou’), on returning to Johannesburg, started a quilting and embroidering initiative to enable rural African women to earn money for themselves.  A deeply impoverished community situated north of the Zoutpansberg mountains, (near Mozambique), it is an area which is seriously inhospitable.  There is no running water, there are no jobs and the Venda women are illiterate – all destitute and with very little hope – struggling to survive in caring for themselves and their families. 

Ina writes an absolutely fascinating (and deeply moving) account of how she got involved with these desperate women, and of how she stumbled upon teaching a couple of them to embroider chain stitch, but which has mushroomed into selling their beautiful artworks at Quilt Shows and Festivals around the world. 

In a nutshell, Tambani is a quilting and embroidering initiative to give these disadvantaged rural African women an opportunity to earn something for themselves.  The embroidered folk stories, which are made up as appliqué blocks, record and tell of Venda folk tales and are a practical way of preserving the Venda oral tradition. 

I want to include the WHOLE STORY here, but I know that space does not allow.  It is a MUST read, and one is left inspired and enthralled at how making the difference for one so often ripples forward and impacts hundreds more!  Who would’ve thought that her simple beginning of Ina having to first teach herself how to do chain stitch and embroidery, and then passing on the skill to two Venda ladies – Eni Nenzhelele and Vho-Tshundeni, would take their beautiful work (initially to a Johannesburg quilting meeting) and thereafter to Paducah, Houston and beyond!

Of the first quilters meeting in Johannesburg, Ina writes …“To my utter amazement I sold the Venda embroideries! Everybody was interested in my embroidery project. They wanted to know the folk tale behind the embroidery, they asked about the Venda women doing the work, about their families. The idea of empowering unemployed women through embroidery made complete sense to all the quilters, many of whom were also involved with self-help groups”.

 On the website there were no less than ten international venues where their works will be displayed and sold this year alone!

These blocks are used by quilters, knitters and crafters and are sought after and sold throughout the world.  The full fascinating story can be found at

Sunshine Quilters, Mosselbay

Sunshine Quilters, Mosselbay

This group started as a sewing group by a local church in Mossel Bay, but since they were donated lots of small fabric pieces, it was decided to teach the ladies to quilt, under the auspices of Colleen Denyer, member of the Outeniqua Quilters Guild.  As part of a community project outreach by Eskom, they were donated 6 sewing

machines, an over locker, embroidery machine, an iron as well as a kit for each member with all the necessary sewing items.  Colleen and her team taught them the basic patchwork techniques and appliqué for quilts from which they made quilts, to sell as well as from themselves.  As many of these groups like to earn money from their acquired skills, smaller items are more popular to make and quick to sell.  At present they make four- and five-pocket bags, as well as squares with appliquéd animals with African fabric sashing, adding embellishment with embroidery, braid and beads.  These are sold as they are or made into wall hangings, cushion covers or used on pockets for bags.  Most of the sales are out of hand, although the group also takes advantage of the Outeniqua Quilters’ Guild “bring-and-buy” days.  Sales of these items support any purchases outside donations, and with 25% put back into the club they can buy batting, embellishments and thread.  They have also made a raffle quilt, and recently learnt how to make reversible quilts using the quilt-as-you-go method.  Today Colleen runs the group with the help of a non-quilting friend, who wants to learn about quilting.  Whilst motivation and stimulation are challenges to cope with, the group of 14 ladies meets every Tuesday morning in D’Almeida, Mossel Bay and going strong.

Golden West Quilters

Golden West Quilters' Guild

An outreach workshop took place between 21 – 24 August 2012 to coincide with the annual quilt exhibition and retreat of Golden West Quilters Guild (GWQG). Eight women and one man attended the classes and made a bag. They  learnt a quick way to make triangles in order to compose different patterns.

Charlotte Van Schalkwyk (Chairlady of GWQG) with the help of Christa Potgieter (Chairlady of De Oude Molen Quilters Guild) were presenters of the classes.The Potchefstroom Museum sponsored fabric for the occasion.

 The man and women who attend the classes came from our local community.

Participants in this sucessful event were:

Victoria Laurie, Emily Phleo, Matsheko Seleke, Mary Motsweneng,

Dinah Madiehe, Raphael Tau,

Grace Mokgweta, Eunice Thekiso and Wilhelmina Ilanke.

Goedharte (OQG Group) - Outreach at Woodland Hills Community Church Bloemfontein

With the initiative of Du Maurier Weis and with the help of her friend Dalene Volsteedt,  these ladies created some awesome  quilts. Well done!