myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Social Bite Homeless Village Quilt Drive

Welcome to a new charity quilt drive I am launching today!

Some of you may know that my husband, Jonathan Avery, builds Tiny Houses for a living.  About 18 months ago he was approached by a very remarkable man named Josh Littlejohn who is the driving force behind Social Bite.  You can read all about Social Bite here, but basically it is a not-for-profit organisation that runs cafes and restaurants, which not only employ homeless people, but also raise money to help ‘end homelessness’.

Josh is incredibly ambitious about this and if you’ve ever heard him speak you would totally believe that this is possible (check him out on the internet and listen to the stuff he says – it is so inspiring!).

One of the ways he is tackling homelessness is to build a village of Tiny Houses for homeless people to live in for a year to eighteen months, where they get support and rehabilitation, and then are moved into permanent housing.

Edinburgh council has given a plot of land and Josh has been tirelessly fundraising and getting industry and sponsors involved to make this happen. You can read more about this project here.

When Josh was first thinking about this he saw Jonathan’s Nest House and realised this was exactly what they needed. So Jonathan came on board to design the prototype for the homeless village.  Jonathan works on his own so couldn’t build the 11 houses they needed, so instead they are being built by a company in the north of Scotland called Carbon Dynamic

The first house was finished in time for the Edinburgh Festival last year and displayed in St Andrews Square (above). It then went to the Airport and Edinburgh School of Art, and has just moved to the actual site where it will soon be joined by the others.

So what has all this to do with quilts?  Well when this was all kicking off back in October 2016, my pal Sarah Ashford was staying with me and she suggested that I should make quilts for all the homeless people coming to live in the Tiny Houses.  Of course it’s a fantastic idea and I immediately agreed!  What could be better than a quilt for helping somebody start a new, more positive, life.  And so I have been planning this for a while now…

…planning and talking about it with my Edinburgh MQG members and students.  While I have been a little too busy to get this started some of them have already made and donated quilts!

So here are the first three Social Bite Homeless Village Quilts. The first one, above, was made with blocks from a swap between Edinburgh MQG and Augusta MQG. So thank you Augusta quilters for making these amazing blocks!  And a huge thanks to the EMQG for donating them.

The lovely Pam and Mags who have been so supportive with this project, managed to make two quilt tops with the blocks and some Kona Solids. Mags beautifully quilted hers with a mixture of FMQ and hand quilting – love these details! Pam is till finishing hers.

This next quilt was also made by Mags (who is a prolific, speedy and very generous quilter!) after my Colour Theory class. It’s made from Moda Grunge and is just fabulous! Love that wavy quilting too.

The next quilt was donated by Katie, another one of our EMQG members.  This uber modern quilt has reverse applique bubbles floating over a bright orange background, and some amazing hand quilting!

Thank you so much Katie!

As the beds are all single, the quilts required don’t need to be too big. 130cm x 180cm is about right though a little more or less in either direction wouldn’t be a huge problem.

The first 8 inhabitants should be moving in during April with a staggered entry of the other 12 during the summer/autumn.  I have 2-3 quilts that I am halfway through and will have finished by April, and with Pam’s other quilt we are well on our way to the first 8. I have a lot of orphan blocks, including many left over blocks from the Maggie’s Centre quilt.

I will be opening the studio up for sew-in days on Wednesday the 14th and Friday 16th February.  Are you local to Edinburgh and able to come along to help?  You would need to be reasonably experienced at patchwork and able to piece together blocks of different sizes to make more tops.  If you can help please leave a comment or send me an email to [email protected]

In April/May I am planning to hold larger quilt drives where up to 20 people can all be helping to make quilts.  I have a great ‘quilt as you go’ log cabin pattern that I think could work well.  If you think you might be interested in helping at this you can email me to let me know or just look out for more info.

Meanwhile if you would like to donate any orphan blocks and/or fabric I would be very appreciative.  I would especially like any unused and unloved jelly rolls! Or any backing fabric like old duvet covers. If you have any suitable finished quilts you would like to donate than that would be fabulous!

I am hoping to get sponsorship for wadding, thread, and some fabric.

The mix of male to female inhabitants will probably be around 75/25 so we will need more male or gender neutral quilts.  The idea is that they would keep the quilts and take them with them when they move to permanent accommodation.  So this quilt drive will be a long term project, we’ll be needing 20 quilts every year – eighteen months. I will also be getting special labels printed for all the quilts.

If you are interested in this project but can’t help with quilts then please consider donating here.

Meanwhile please let me know if you have any questions at all. This will be an evolving project so please bear with me while I get things up and running!


  1. Jo, so great to hear of your involvement with Social Bite . I’m a huge admirer of Josh’s work and have got involved through work – so count me in with a quilt by April

  2. Jo

    I’d love to help. I’ll get cracking when I get home (away just now). I’ll either make a whole one or contribute.

  3. Jo. Would love to help. Feb days not suitable but happy to join on future dates. Have jelly roll to donate too. Please keep me informed for dates.

  4. Great idea Jo – will try and find something for you! The whole project sounds amazing. I hope they do end homelessness. Of course some people who are have been in care too.

  5. What a great idea. I’d love to help. I can’t manage the dates but could work on blocks at home (if there was a pattern to work to ) and donate these. . You mention a quilt as you go log cabin pattern. Can I buy that in your shop ?

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