Make a War Widows’ Quilt ‘Top Pocket’ Square

This exercise is part of the War Widows’ Quilt, which celebrate the lives and stories of war widows in word and stitch. The idea is to commemorate you. Your poems and pockets will join those of many other war widows from across the country, creating a stitched memorial made by many hands.  

If you are a war widow, or a relative who would like to commemorate a war widow, and you would like to participate in this or our other exercises for the War Widows’ Quilt, please read this information sheet first, so you know exactly what the project is about, who we are, and what will happen to your contribution.

You can also download the exercise instructions as a PDF file here


1. Write a line in response to the question below.
What would you put in your top pocket to help you survive difficult times? It could be a thing, or simply an idea. Why have you chosen this? What does it mean to you? What does it feel like next to your heart?

2. Go through your answers, drawing a line under the bits that speak loudest to you. You need approximately three phrases from your answers.

3. Now arrange your selected bits into three lines: the first line should be five words (or syllables); the second seven words (or syllables); the third line, five words (or syllables). This kind of poem is a form of ancient Japanese poetry called haiku. Haikus often reflect on passing time, the seasons, and the natural world, like in this example:

The rainbow standing
Nearby in this still moment
As if you are here.
Takahama Kyoshi (1874-1959)

4. Your poem can be handwritten or typed up and placed in the pocket. We would like you
to select a line or a few words from your poem that can be stitched onto the outside of
the pocket. This can be stitched by you, a volunteer (like family member or a friend), or
Lois.  If you would like us to send you a selection of materials, all you need to do is get in touch with our artist, Lois Blackburn (arthur+martha), via email at and discuss your preferences. Lois will then post you the fabric, thread, and pens. From the materials you have been sent, choose a background fabric from the selection provided. Perhaps the tartan fabric means something to you? Or the camouflage, or navy blue?

5. When returning the pocket and the poem, please think about whether you would like the
contents of your pocket to remain a secret or whether you would like people to read them.
Depending on your choice, the pocket can be sewn shut or left open.

6. Complete the forms provided and send them back to us alongside your return pocket and poem. You will need to send a signed Arts Consent Form which tells us that we have permission to use your creation before Lois can add your work to the quilt.


Any questions?
Please contact Lois and Phil by email (

The War Widows’ Quilt. Part of War Widows’ Stories.

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