Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spoken movingly of how she hand stitched dresses and romper suits in prison for the daughter she was separated from.

The West Hampstead mum of one, who recieved a standing ovation when she spoke at Glastonbury last week, is guest of honour at a North London quilt exhibition today. (June 28) and is bringing along a small cushion cover that she made for Gabriella, now nine.

She was on a family visit to Iran with the 22-month-old, when she was arrested on false spying charges. During her six year ordeal, she found solace in turning Liberty fabric into clothes for her toddler, and gifts for her cell mates.

"When I was in Evin prison, my friends and family sent me different pieces of fabric including from my favourite material store, Liberty, which all of a sudden felt more relevant in a place where freedom was so scarce," she said. 

Ham & High: Nazanin was separated from her young daughter Gabriella during her six year detainment in Iran on false spying charges and took solace in sewing clothes for her while in prison.Nazanin was separated from her young daughter Gabriella during her six year detainment in Iran on false spying charges and took solace in sewing clothes for her while in prison. (Image: Archant)

"Over time, I made with this fabric various dresses, romper suits and shirts for my young daughter who was in Iran in the care of my parents. The last fragments of these fabrics were so pretty and precious in that place that I could not let any small piece go to waste. Instead, I turned them into handkerchiefs and necklaces for my cellmates. This cushion cover is made from the very last of those Liberty fabric remnants in Evin prison for my daughter to take to her new room when she returned to the UK in 2019."

She was eventually reunited with Gabriella and husband Richard in March 2022 after a longstanding debt was paid to Iran by the UK government.

Ham & High: A rainbow butterfly for Max by Pat Gordon.A rainbow butterfly for Max by Pat Gordon. (Image: Courtesy of London Quilters)

London Quilters are exhibiting more than 60 works at Swiss Cottage library. Quilts at the Library features contemporary, modern, traditional, and art quilts ranging from large bed covers to wall hangings, and mini quilts inspired by books and book covers.

The group have been exhibiting at Swiss Cottage Library for more than forty years, and are marking their longstanding relationship by donating a banner to welcome library users which will be unveiled by Nazanin and Mayor of Camden, Councillor Nazma Rahman.

Ham & High: Onwards by Diana Darrer.Onwards by Diana Darrer. (Image: Courtesy of London Quilters)

Anita O'Brien, Chair of the exhibition committee, said while they usually stage an exhibition every two years, they had been unable to display their work since 2019 due to Covid: "Many of the quilts on display reveal how people coped with the isolation, anxiety and restrictions the pandemic placed upon them," she said.

"The joy of creating, sometimes with limited materials or virtually with other makers, helped members keep going through the tough times and resulted in many varied and beautiful pieces.

"In much more extreme circumstances Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe also found that reading and sewing helped her preserve her sanity during the six years of her imprisonment, and we are delighted that she has agreed to open the exhibition."

Quilts at the Library runs at Swiss Cottage Library until July 26.