Returned Servicewomen’s Quilt

Returned Servicewomen’s Quilt

As life would have it, one never knows what is around the corner.  I’ve had reason of late to be a frequent visitor of the Repatriation General Hospital, here in Adelaide.   This has been a hospital which was purpose-built for Return Servicemen.  As the numbers lessened overtime and maybe also because it was passed from Federal to State run it also became available to the general public.  This hospital has generated a lot of public feeling and attachment over the years by all who come in contact, especially in recent times when the government announced its closure!  Although there has been a huge public outcry and long and multiple protests, it as fallen on deaf ears.

Anyhow, who would have thought that on the grounds there, they have an opportunity shop – Friends of the Repat, I think.  Well, of course I had a feeling that I would have to go in there. when time allowed.

So last week. when I went there, my instinct was right, I was delighted to see two vintage sewing machines, sitting right near the front door!  One was a treadle and the other a vintage Singer 99K with no knee control and rather overpriced.  I was immediately accosted by a very tall heavily bearded man who saw me glance at the treadle.  It’s a great machine isn’t It? He said.  Yes, I said and I looked a bit further around the shop.  For some reason he began to serenade me very loudly which was rather hilarious but slightly uncomfortable so I got out real quick!

I decided to go back another day.  Somehow I didn’t think the machine would go in a hurry!

So, yesterday, after visitations at the hospital, I decided to go in there, armed with my lovely daughter!  I haven’t told you what the machine is yet, it’s an industrial Singer, with a big open throat/harp space.  These don’t come along that often, and I thought it would be an excellent machine for quilting.

So we went in and delightfully, there were different staff on duty.  I asked about the machine, and we settled on a price.  Unfortunately, the belt is broken, and there are no attachments.  So I asked if there were any.  The lady said she didn’t think so but she would ask at the museum.  She said that the machine had come from the museum, but they had decided not to keep it!  Naturally, we said that we would go with her.  Just another building or so down, we went into the small museum, which is nicely kept and full of assorted and fascinating vintage hospital paraphernalia, old nurses uniform examples, Returned Servicemen’s medals, old weapons and heart a wrenching and ever so polite letter from WW1, asking when her dear son may possibly be returning home from war…..

Needless to say we were glad we went down there, but to my surprise there was also a lovely quilt on the wall which I presumed was made by the injured and hospitalised soldiers after WW2.  I just thought I must share this with you today!

I have heard stories of soldiers making quilt blocks especially whist they were infirmed as a form of occupational therapy.  I think this is a wonderful example and I’m so glad I came across it!

I have to say a big thank you to Bronwyn who was kind enough to leave a comment on this post.  She said that this quilt was made by Returned Service Women, which makes perfect sense.  So I have changed the title to reflect that.

You can read the interesting details of her comment if you scroll down.


Some close ups of the quilt blocks.  I think it looks wonderful with all the mostly pastel coloured blocks, and each with a story to tell!


Post WW2 Return Servicewomen’s Quilt.


And here is the whole quilt!


It’s a beautiful one patch, scrappy  / album style quilt with so much history!  If only we could hear more!  Incidentally, they tell me this museum will remain even after the hospital is closed.

To be continued….

5 thoughts on “Returned Servicewomen’s Quilt”

  1. I am really enjoying all if your posts Susie. I had thought I was the only hoarder of strings and scraps. Thank you for posting about this quilt…I wonder if it is worth mentioning that it is perhaps an exserviceWOMEN’s quilt? The “F” in each of the service numbers indicates this. I had the F before my number when I enlisted 1980s. During 1939-45 War, NFX indicated enlisted NSW, female and served overseas; QX: enlisted Queensland, male overseas; SF enlisted in South Australia no o/seas service. Again thank you for all your inspiration. Bronwyn

    1. Wow! Thank you so much Bronwyn. I will do that. This makes a lot of sense. I am grateful for your comment.
      Kind Regards, Susie

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