Riley Blake fabrics are my all time favourite. I just about fall in love with every one of their designs, the instant they come out. I think they are consistently one of the best designers for boy fabric, which is what brought them to my attention originally, when I began sewing for my little lad.
Well, last August Riley Blake came out with a new range that called to me extra loudly. "Pieces of Hope" is a line that was designed to support autism awareness, understanding and research, with part proceeds going to Autism Speaks. The fabric features puzzle pieces, an image often used to represent autism research, as it depicts the pieces of the puzzle that help us see the bigger picture of what autism is.
I especially love the fabric that displays positive words surrounding autism. As a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder, sometimes it is the little things that give us hope. These words remind me of those magical moments when the autism slides away for a special moment and lets the beautiful boy inside shine though. Sometimes the challenges that autism poses can be exhausting, and hope seems a long way off. These fabrics remind me that he has just as much potential as anyone else, it just takes a little more work to reach sometimes.
When I first saw these fabrics, I knew I had to get my hands on some. I was thinking I would make some cushions for Austin's sensory corner at school, as it was rather empty, and he preferred to hide under tables or run away to the playground when things got tough, than use his sensory corner. So I thought some bright, colourful, positive cushions would make a great addition.
Then we were told about, and accepted for a new Autism Intervention Program where he will attend this year. The basic idea is that the sensory problems are removed so that he can learn the skills he needs to cope in a normal classroom, without all of the issues that we experienced last year. The unit will follow the Ziggurat model, which has proven success with dealing with high functioning autism in the US.
We are a little excited, apprehensive, anxious, hopeful and a whole bunch of other things in between, about having this opportunity this year. I saw this fabric on sale at the fat quarter shop and was afraid that if I didn't act soon, I could miss out. So, for a moment I closed my eyes to the stash increase, and bought the FQ pack and some yardage while I could! I figure with my track record, it's never too early in the year to be thinking about end of year gifts, and I think that if this program does anything at all to make learning easier for our beautiful boy, then they will deserve something special. Even if it doesn't, a snuggly, colourful quilt for the junior primary AIP unit will be loved by the children that attend there after Austin has returned to his home school. They can use it in their sensory breakout room, or even for sitting on as a class for outdoor learning since the class size is so small (for sensory overload reasons). THis term will begin with just 4 students, and a maximum of 8 allowed in the class.
I just know I am going to love working with these gorgeous, happy fabrics, and think there may even be enough to make a second quilt for us to keep here. Austin has become a very prolific reader these school holidays, chewing through (not literally as Austin thought I meant when he first heard me say it!) three Enid Blyton novels, and starting on a fourth. I would love to set up a quiet reading corner, and a quilt or some cushions using "Pieces of Hope" would be perfect for snuggling up to while he reads.