Avril Riordan displays some of her creative handiwork
A LIMERICK lady who took up sewing for her own peace of mind is now bringing comfort to others.
Avril Riordan, of Sew Crafty Fabrics in Crecora, makes quilts, teddy bears and cushions from the clothes of deceased adults and children for their loved ones. She calls it memories forever.
“It is a unique and very personal way to remember a loved one who recently passed, celebrate a life past or present, or just keep a loved one close to your heart when they are a distance away.
“Having a teddy bear, quilt or a cushion custom made with your loved one’s clothes is one way of having a lasting memory which will always be with you and can be passed down through generations,” said Avril.
The items can help people get through tough times and making them has done the same from Avril.
She was forced to leave her role in admin in 2013 due to fibromyalgia – a rheumatic condition characterised by muscular pain.
“I have terrible pains in my hands, arms and elbows. When I came out of work I didn’t sew. I was going mad with the pain and having nothing to do.
“I went to the knitting and stitching show, saw the patchwork quilts and I said, ‘Oh my God that could be something for me’ that would keep my brain occupied on days that I can do it,” said Avril.
She had the talent in her genes as her late grandmother Bridie Shanahan, Pennywell, was a natural at making clothes, curtains and hand smocking.
She started work in a studio at her home in Crecora in early 2015.
“It keeps me sane because if I had nothing to do I would go berserk. I’m only 43, I don’t want to be sitting at home doing nothing.
“When I have my good days I do what I can do and when I have my bad days I can’t do anything. I go for steroid injections every couple of months and am on constant medication.
“I have pain in my hands arms, elbows 24/7 but there are times when it gets excruciatingly bad I just have to sit and watch TV. You kind of push through because otherwise it would overtake you.
“When you have something that you love doing and something to focus on you can push through.”
Memories forever started when a lady contacted Avril, asking would she make her dad’s shirts, ties, hankies, jeans, cords into a quilt. They went through all his clothes, Avril drew up some designs and the customer chose one.
“When she received the quilt she rang me in tears, she was so happy - it brought comfort to her. She said it is on an armchair and everytime she looks at it she thinks of her dad.
“There is such a story behind it – she remembers her dad wore that tie at a wedding or that shirt at a graduation.”
Avril has also got requests from families who have partners, son or daughters working abroad and a cushion, quilt or teddy bear made using their clothes is something tangible to keep them close.
Saddest of all is when she is asked to make an item from a child or baby’s clothes.
“It is very humbling that they have allowed me to do that work for them because it is so sensitive and personal,” said Avril.
Word is spreading about memories forever and she is currently making three teddy bears for a customer.
She wished to thank her husband Ger and sister Isabelle for helping her on this journey from turning a hobby into making items for people despite battling fibromyalgia.
“Isabelle started out with me but she has moved on to other pursuits and is busy looking after her two young children, but she helps me out when I am very busy and attending events.
“I also run sewing and quilting classes from kids to adults and during each course you will make a range of items from cushions to table runners, wall hangings to cosmetic bags and quilts, the list is endless once you get started and very soon you could be making your very own quilt,” said Avril.