For years, Ali Wheeler from FeelGood5Ways, had experienced a ‘niggle, frustration, and to be honest, burden in the back of my mind.’ Caused by the knowledge that, languishing in her loft, she had various treasure boxes for her two daughters, aged 13 and 15.
In July Ali raided these boxes, and I made two school uniform cushions for her, from clothes spanning 7 years of her daughters’ lives. I recently caught up with her to hear how the experience has brought joy, relief and happiness for the whole family.
The realisation – joy and relief
‘I have various treasure boxes for my kids’, explained Ali, ‘but had no idea what I would ever do with them. In fact my fear was that they would just sit at the back for the wardrobe forever and I would eventually throw them out.’
So when Ali saw an example of my school uniform cushions for the first time in June, she immediately felt a sense of joy and relief. ‘Joy that I could do something with the clothes. Relief that something would finally be done with them so my efforts hadn’t been wasted, and that something positive would come out of them,’ enthused Ali.
Getting the clothes out – so many memories
I asked Ali how she felt when she first got the clothes back out of their hiding places. ‘The clothes meant the world to me, but very little to my kids, to be honest.’ This isn’t surprising, the clothes spanned 7 years, from nursery school to the end of primary school – a time when children very much live in the now. But ultimately, Ali shared, ‘The clothes hold so many memories for all of us for different reasons.’
Sharing the memories – ask the kids
We met up on a glorious summer’s day to discuss the memories in the clothes and how Ali and her daughters wanted the final cushions to look and feel. ‘I asked the kids what bits were important – like the writing on the tie, shirt and the sock!’ said Ali, ‘but for me I wanted to see the logos as an identity and use parts of the uniform quirkily like you suggested. ‘
The finished cushions – weight off my mind
Ali opened her finished cushions in front of me (I do love to see people’s reactions), and confessed, ‘I was a little overwhelmed at first and still, when I walk past the kids’ bedrooms and see them on the bed, I glance at them and see something new. That evokes a different memory every time.’
And for her two girls, ‘They have just fitted into the kids’ lives, suddenly meaning something to them too. The cushions can be there on their bed, in their arms, or just as a talking piece. I’ve heard Grace talk about it to her friend, and I’ve seen them use them every day. ‘
Ali summed up her experience of transforming her daughters’ school clothes into cushions by saying, ‘The clothes hold so many memories for all of us for different reasons. Now they are captured in one place it’s a huge weight off my mind.’