Category: Patchwork Story

Patchwork Story: Lucy’s 40th Birthday Trip to Sweden

Lucy was about to celebrate her 40th birthday and wanted to mark the occasion by doing something super special. Her husband asked her about the one gift she would appreciate the most, and she decided it would be a trip to Sweden. So Simon set up a patchwork and asked her friends to crowdfund her adventure. We asked Lucy all about it.

So why did you decide on a trip to Sweden?

Last year one of my best friends recently moved back home to Sweden to be nearer her family. We only met four years ago through work but we instantly got on and she became like a sister to me! We got really used to seeing each other regularly so it was weird and sad when she moved away. It was nice to have such a great pen pal (she sends the best parcels in the world) and I was glad she was nearer her family but I missed seeing her terribly. I don’t have a very big income and don’t often travel abroad so when my husband asked me what I really wanted, I dropped a very big hint that I’d love to go to Stockholm to have some proper time with her!

Did you peek at your patchwork before the trip?

I mentioned a few of the places Lina was planning to take me but my husband kept it all a surprise. Every so often in the lead up to my birthday I saw Simon check his emails and make the sort of noise that can only mean ‘wow your friends are being really generous!’ – but I was very disciplined and didn’t let him show me!

How did Simon show you your birthday patchwork?

On the morning of my actual birthday in cold rainy January we went for a bracing walk along my favourite pier. Afterwards we stopped in a cosy cafe for a hot chocolate and he presented the finished patchwork to me as we sat getting warm. I was absolutely overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity and lovely messages, plus the sweet activities and day trips my friends had chosen to treat me to. I just burst into tears, I was so touched! There’s no way I would be able to afford such a fun trip with proper spending money. I was so excited.

So how was the trip?

It was AMAZING! Five whole days with my lovely Lina in a beautiful city, loads of delicious food, museums, galleries and lovely sunny days out. It was such a treat to have money to spend without worrying if I could afford it. I really can’t think of a better 40th birthday present. The trouble is, now I am desperate to go back again!


Hooray! Thanks so much for sharing your Patchwork story with us Lucy.

If this has inspired you to make your own patchwork, just customise one of our birthday gift templates or create one from scratch.

A Kids’ Party with a Back to the Future Theme

Patchwork founder Olivia’s son turned ten this month. To celebrate she wanted to throw him a really special party with all his family and friends. Although Manu knew about the party, what he didn’t know was that it was going to be a Back to the Future themed party – an obsession that he’s inherited from his 1980s parents. 

So when did Manu’s love of Back to the Future start?

Early. Manu chose his first red ‘life preserver’ at age four, started guitar lessons on a mini red electric at the age of five, owned a skateboard by six, went to the Secret Cinema screening of Back to the Future at eight and still watches the film at least once a month, reciting every line by heart. So, a Back to the Future themed party seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Manu’s past and future.

How did you go about organising the party?

Once I’d fixed the date and booked the local Scouts hall the real challenge was searching the country to track down an original Back to the Future DeLorean to drive Manu to the venue in style. 

From that point on it was simple. The Scout hall, a 1950s prefab, was the perfect Hill Valley School hall and although I knew it was going to take a lot of work to recreate the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, with Patchwork it was easy to share the plan and ask everyone to help.  

Manu's Back to the Future themed party patchwork

Manu’s Back to the Future themed party patchwork

What response did you get from your party patchwork?

Within days of sending out the patchwork invite I had 50 people coming, a local ‘Marvin Berry’ band booked, badges being made, a projector screen and speakers promised, 100 balloons ordered, eight cakes being baked, a banner, two signs and a Flux Capacitor being made.

How did you keep it all a secret?

It was easy to keep the Back to the Future theme a secret from Manu until the day of the party. Getting dressed in his skinny jeans, checked shirt, denim jacket and red gilet was normal for Manu. But he did start to get a bit suspicious when his dad produced an 1980s Walkman and a brand new pair of white Nikes with a red tick.

With everyone waiting at the venue it was up to Manu’s dad to get him there. As they left home Manu said ‘I feel like Marty’, and at that exact moment the DeLorean pulled up and opened its doors, blaring out the Back to the Future theme tune!

Back to the Future themed party

How did Manu feel riding a time machine through Brockley?

This was the only Universal Studios DeLorean time machine in the UK and the one used for the 25 anniversary promotional tour, complete with Flux Capacitor. So Manu was speechless. As were the people who saw it driving (at 5 miles an hour over the speed bumps) through the streets of Brockley.

Back to the Future themed party

How did you transform the party venue into the Enchantment Under the Sea dance?

I spent Friday night with girlfriends painting the giant banner and two wooden signs. And we arrived at the venue on Sunday morning with a handful of helpers to decorate the hall, blow up balloons, set the tables, fill party bags and get the band set up. So when Manu arrived the scene was set and everyone was outside the hall dressed in 1985 or 1955 outfits to welcome him. 

Back to the Future themed party

What did Manu think when he arrived at the Back to the Future themed party?

Manu McFly tried his best to play it cool as he stepped out of his time machine to whoops and cheers from the crowd, but he couldn’t hide his surprise and delight. His joy reached new heights when he stepped inside the hall and the band started playing ‘Power of Love’.

He said “The best bit of the party was riding in the DeLorean, seeing all my friends, eating all the cakes and the Flux Capacitor that Eric made me. The funniest thing was seeing Grandad dressed as Doc and the most embarrassing bit was when the band played Earth Angel and mum tried to make me dance.”

Back to the Future themed party

Back to the Future themed party

We know that you’re the biggest Back to the Future fan really. So what was your favourite bit?

I am. I loved feeling everyone’s excitement as we saw the DeLorean drive up and seeing Manu’s face as he got out of the Time Machine! It was so fun stepping into 1955 as we entered the hall, seeing all our efforts come together and hearing the AMAZING band. We’d made mini clock tower fairy cakes but seeing the incredible sea-themed creations, the Jail Bird Joey cake and the huge red guitar cake that everyone else had made was amazing. And of course Patchwork made it all so easy. I could keep track of all the things people were helping to fund, make and do and contact everyone about the things they’d pledged to do and send updates to everyone along the way. 

After an evening of dancing I could also show Manu the patchwork so he could see how everyone helped to make it happen and read everyone’s messages so he could send his own thank yous. It was a massive success, made super easy with Patchwork. Now I’m just looking for another excuse to plan a big party!

Back to the Future themed party

YAY. Best party ever. If this has inspired you to plan a party with patchwork, check out our party patchworks for inspiration, or create your own from scratch.

Anna & Her Patchwork Puppy

When Anna was diagnosed with a serious brain virus, her friends rallied around her. They wanted to help her in any way they could. So her friend Catherine decided to make her a patchwork.

Hi Anna. Tell us about what Catherine organised for you..

My friends knew that I had always wanted a British Bulldog and I suppose it seemed like the perfect timing as I wasn’t sure if I would be able to work again in the near future and would be spending a lot of time rehabilitating, learning to walk again and trying to increase my stamina levels.


How did you feel when your friends told you what they’d done?

It was such an incredible surprise and completely unexpected. I remember arranging to meet my friends in a pub one evening, I thought maybe there was a quiz or something.

Catherine presented me with an envelope with a card inside with pictures of my friends on it and inside was the message that they had all donated to getting Quincy (my Bulldog) I cried (obviously) It was definitely one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me.

How did Quincy help your recovery?

Through having Quincy, I would get up and out everyday, walking in the park and also, as silly as it may sound, having constant company during the day would keep my mind occupied, I’m sure without him, my rehab would have taken longer.

He’s my best bud and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank my friends enough for giving him to me.


Catherine says:

“Anna is massively loved by everyone in our friendship group and it was very scary for us when she suddenly became so ill. Clubbing together to get Quince was a way for us to express our love and relief that Anna had recovered and to give her a new pal to encourage her in getting even better.”


Thank you so much Anna & Catherine for sharing your lovely patchwork story with us. It had the whole of Team Patchwork in tears. Hooray for friends, and hooray for Quincy. We’re so pleased to be a small part of this story.

If you want to create a patchwork of your own, go here. Or browse our readymade patchworks for inspiration.

Tom’s Crowdfunded Laptop

When Ginny’s son Tom decided he really needed a new top-of-the-range MacBook Pro to help with his A-levels, she was a little bit panicked. Desperately wanting to help him get it, but having just had a very expensive few months, Ginny wasn’t sure what to do. Luckily, her daughter Katie had an idea.

What did you decide to fund and why?

It was Tom’s 18th birthday and he was in his final year. He was studying art and really needed a new computer to do his work on, but we weren’t sure we could shell out for it. His big sister Katie suggested we ‘crowdfunded’ a MacBook for him using Patchwork, we liked the look of the website, so we thought we’d give it a go. We made a patchwork from images of his recent art work and suggested to friends and family that they contribute for his 18th. Bingo! Within a month he had enough money for the MacBook and lots of compliments about his work.


What did everyone think about the patchwork?

All of our friends and family thought it was a very inspired, creative and interesting way to raise funds and it worked perfectly.

How did Tom feel when you gave him his gift?

Tom was over the moon with his gift, and now has one of his paintings shortlisted for the A-level Royal Academy summer exhibition.


Fantastic, thanks Ginny for telling us all about Tom and his artwork. If If this has inspired you to arrange a group-gift for a special birthday, just customise one of our readymade patchworks, or create your own from scratch.

Vera’s Birthday Bike

Vera knew exactly what she wanted for her 12th birthday – a shiny new bike. And she knew exactly how to ask for it. She made a patchwork and sent it out to her family, who all chipped in towards the new wheels she was dreaming of. We asked her all about it.

Hi Vera, what did you decide to make a patchwork for and why?
I wanted to make a patchwork for a bike. I always had different bikes when I was little but I kept getting too big for them so always had to hand them down to my cousins and friends. Now that I’m 12 I want a proper bike that I wont grow out of too quickly. One that I can ride to school and everywhere!


Who chipped in towards your birthday present?
Now I’m 12 I’ve got my own phone and my own email. So once I’d made my patchwork on my phone I sent out an email to all my family asking them to help buy me a bit of my bike. It was exciting in the two weeks before my birthday because when they bought bits of my patchwork I could see all their messages popping up and check how much money they had given me on my phone.

How was your birthday?
Great. I was so happy and excited. On the day of my party I went to Waterloo with my Mum, Dad and little brother to pick up the bike. First of all I thought I wanted a red one but when I saw the shiny blue one in the shop I loved it more. We had to wait for the man in the shop to build it and so we went to the cafe. Then I rode it all the way along the river and took it on the train and then rode it home.

vera-messagesHow did you feel when you got your present from everyone?
When everyone arrived at the party my bike was there waiting in the garden. It wasn’t a surprise for me because I knew I wanted it so much. But it was definitely a nice surprise for all my family to see me riding my bike. Luckily it was a sunny day so we had cake in the garden and I rode around and around. My aunt and cousins live abroad at the moment so they couldn’t come to the party but they can see photos of me on my bike, which we are turning into postcards to say thank you to everyone. I haven’t ridden my bike to school yet as I need a lock but I like riding it around Brockley and showing all my friends.

Thank you Vera! We’re so glad we could help you get your special bike.

If you’re inspired to chip in for a bike, you can customise our birthday bike patchwork here. You can also browse our readymade patchworks for more gift inspiration, or create a patchwork from scratch.

Chipping in for a gift: Otis got his bike

Otis knew exactly what he wanted for his birthday this year – a proper pedal bike like his friend’s. The bike in question happened to be a little bit pricey, but luckily his mum knew exactly what to do.

Hannah got Otis to draw a picture of the bike he really wanted, then she sent it over to us to turn it into a patchwork and invited friends and family to chip in to pay for it – piece by piece.

Before she published the patchwork, Hannah was a little bit nervous about how friends and family would respond to being asked for money. But she was happy to find the reaction was really positive:

“I was quite taken aback by how many of the parents told us what a fantastic idea they thought it was, what a relief it was, and how good it felt to contribute to something Otis really wanted.”

It was also a relief for Hannah:

“We live in a small London terrace, so I really didn’t want friends bringing more random gifts that Otis didn’t necessarily want just cluttering up the place. I’ve been to so many kids birthdays and hate buying things that I’m not sure the kid (or the parent) will like. It feels like such a waste. I also didn’t want parents to feel that they had to spend a certain amount, so I loved that people could contribute £2 for a bell upwards.”

The reaction from his little friends was just as positive – “The kids were all really excited when we unwrapped it and built it at his party. And when he rides to school, they all know which bit they bought.”

Everyone has really enjoyed watching Otis learn to ride and Otis loves his new bike.

“Otis really appreciates and understands that he got one big brilliant present from all the people he’s closest to, he didn’t ask for anything else or seem disappointed not to get lots of little things. He really loves & values his bike, and thanked everyone for helping him get it.”

Thanks for sharing this lovely story with us, Hannah. And Otis, we think you look pretty cool on your new bike.

If you’re inspired to organise a big gift for a loved one, you can customise one of our readymades here, or create your gift list from scratch.

Gift for Kids: Clubbing Together for LEGO!

We’ve had lots of parents making patchworks for kids’ birthdays. We’ve had lots of kids making them for themselves! Clearly we can’t share most of these stories as they are personal and private patchworks made by people we don’t know. But this week was our founder Liv’s son’s birthday, and he made a patchwork gift we can share.

Over to you Liv:

Manu has been obsessed with Lego Star Wars for the last few years. When it comes to Christmas and birthdays, friends usually buy him a little bit of Lego to add to his collection. But these days it’s hard to find a little box of Star Wars Lego under a tenner that he doesn’t already have!

So this year we had a plan.

It was fun making Manu’s patchwork. Once he decided which one big bit of Lego he wanted we went to the local toy shop. I took this photo of him standing next to the big box that he decided on to use as a welcome image and I then took a few photos of all the bits that were included. Then we came home to make our gift page. And once we published it, we sent out Manu’s party invites with a link to his present page.

We invited 10 friends to Manu’s party. The whole set cost £69 so I guessed all contributions would probably cover the cost. But we made sure there was a range of prices so friends could buy the packet for a quid, a character for a fiver or a battleship for ten pounds. Then before the party, having collected some contributions already, I went off to the shop to buy the giant set and wrap it up ready for the party.

On Sunday morning – the day of the party – there was a flurry of present buying on Manu’s page and lots of lovely messages left by his friends that I read out to Manu. Then at 3pm the party began.

I have to say some of the Mums said they felt a bit funny coming to a party without a gift. But when I showed them the big present all wrapped up and waiting on the table it suddenly became real. As Manu opened his present all his friends shouted out “I bought you Anakin Skywalker”, “I bought you Palpatine’s throne” and added things like “I liked it when you said on your patchwork that Mace Windo was Awesome!” All the kids had clearly sat and looked through Manu’s patchwork, read his words and made their own choices about which bits to buy him. And when they saw this big bit of Lego they were all very excited.

Chatting to other parents it was clear that their own experience going to kids parties mirrored mine – “the last minute dash to the shop to spend £15 on something I’m not sure they’ll like and £2 on a metre of paper to wrap it on the way”. So all the parents said how nice it was to be able to “spend a fiver without leaving the sofa and know it was going towards something that was actually wanted.”

Couldn’t put it better myself.

Special Present for A Little Girl: Vera’s Pony

There was only one thing Vera wanted for Christmas this year – the same thing she’s wanted for the last four years – a horse. Living in London and not being a rich kid her chances were looking pretty slim. But being a resourceful kind of a girl Vera came up with a plan ….. a patchwork pony!

Instead of surprise presents, Vera asked all her family to chip in towards a two week pony loan at her local riding school. And has spent every day since Christmas at the yard, in the stable, on the muck heap and riding her favourite pony Annie.

Creating her gift page using all her own words and pictures was “really fun” said Vera. “But the best bit is being at stables every day. Having my own pony for two weeks is the best Christmas present ever.”

A cold, wet, windy outdoorsy Christmas for Vera who is feeling “very warm and happy on the inside”.

Gift for Teens: Special Shopping Trip

Annie recently moved with her family from England to Mauritius and a couple of weeks ago she celebrated her 12th birthday. Last year Annie’s family came to visit on a cold winter’s day with wooly jumpers and scarfs as gifts. This year, living far away on a tropical island meant things were a little different.

As usual Annie made a birthday wishlist. But her Mum realised that asking family to buy and send the things she wanted was going to be difficult.  Firstly none of the summer clothes and shoes that Annie wanted were in the shops in England in November. But even the little things that were available, like hairbands and nail varnish, although only a few pounds to buy, were going to cost three times as much to post.

So Annie’s mum had an idea.

Making a patchwork meant Annie’s mum could take her out for a birthday shopping trip in Mauritus and invite friends and family in the UK to be part of the day too.

With friends and family choosing which part of the trip they wanted to treat her to, Annie and her mum spent a happy few hours shopping and stopping for ice-cream. And then at the end of the day, Annie emailed photos to show what she had bought and to say thank you for all her gifts. A great way for everyone in England to share in the far-away fun and see how Annie enjoyed the day that they had all helped to make happen!

If you live abroad or are organising a present for someone who does, take a look at our readymade patchworks. If there’s something you fancy just click to customise and get family to fund it in time for Christmas.

Kid’s Gift: A Trip to The Lion King

Rudy loves animals. A lot. He especially likes lions.

So with Rudy’s 3rd birthday coming up his mum decided on the perfect present – a trip to the theatre to see.. Yep, you guessed it, The Lion King.

Tickets to West End shows don’t come cheap. And as it didn’t seem right or very responsible to send a toddler off to the theatre on his own, his mum had to buy tickets for the whole family.

It was a friend on Facebook that suggested Rudy’s mum “patchwork it” knowing all Rudy’s family and friends would want to chip in and help treat him to this big birthday adventure.

And that’s what happened.

Rudy’s mum told us: “It was the best present ever. Rudy was absolutely beside himself. He sat still and watched with wide eyes for the whole three hours. He loved the animals, especially the giraffes, elephants and lions that walked down the aisle right past his seat.”

And for all the family who contributed towards Rudy’s Lion King patchwork? Although they didn’t get to share the popcorn or see the performance they did each get a special thank you, sent from Rudy and his mum via our site, with photos showing what fun they had.

If you or someone you know fancies a trip to The Lion King this Christmas just create a patchwork here and invite friends and family to help make it happen – piece by piece.

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