Craftivism workshop

Recently, I returned to the North-East of England for the WEA (Workers Educational Association) to teach two Craftivism workshops. They were part of a series, encouraging individuals to use craft and art to make a campaigning point as an activist. (There is a link at the end of this post, if you would to see the other Craftivism workshops at the WEA.)

What is Craftivism?

The word ‘Craftivism’ is made by combining ‘craft’ and ‘activism’ and it is said to have been invented by feminist Betsy Greer in 2003. Interestingly, craftivism often uses crafts that are traditionally seen as ‘feminine’: knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross-stitch, sewing, quilting. Although this is a new word, the decorative banners (stitched and embroidered) made by the suffragettes over a hundred years ago, were part of an activist campaign for women to get the vote – so the activity isn’t new.

Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage in Cardiff, 2013

There was an interesting television programme on BBC 4 in February this year entitled ‘Craftivism: Making a Difference’ introduced by Jenny Éclair. She described it as ‘Making the world a better Place one stitch at a time’.

For further reading, I recommend this article by Bel Jones for HowNow magazine, featuring Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective, here

Adding letters to fabric

For these workshops, I introduced a number of different ways of adding lettering to cloth and encouraged participants to decide on words and slogans which represented the causes they wanted to promote.

Everyone had a mix of fabrics to experiment with.

The participants then had a couple of days to continue stitching at home.

Adding embellishments

In the second workshop, different embellishment techniques were added, using buttons, beads, sequins and embroidery thread.

Here are some of the pieces, at the end of the second workshop, almost ready to be shown, displayed or worn:

What do you care passionately about? Could you campaign as a craftivist and literally wear your heart on your sleeve (or jeans pocket, or the back of your denim jacket)?

You can see more about WEA Craftivism courses in the North-East here

For further information contact

Amanda Jane Textiles offers unique fabrics for sale here, quilt patterns here and classes here

A Thanksgiving Table-runner

A new pattern for a Thanksgiving table-runner has just been launched in the Etsy shop. I have wanted to make the table-runner and write the pattern for some time and now here it is!

One of my sons is currently living in Canada, so I have learnt the date of Canadian Thanksgiving (11th October this year) and recognised that it is distinct from Thanksgiving in the US, which falls in November.  Fortunately, since all my patterns are instantly downloadable, there is still time to make a table-runner before either the Canadian or American celebrations!

I definitely wanted the finished product to display warm autumn colours and I also thought it would be good to design a ‘scrappy’ quilt, so that there would be lots going on, on the surface.  I pulled out a whole collection of autumnal hues (twenty-four different colours in all) and also chose to vary the low-volume prints in the background of the leaves – again to add interest.

The leaves just had to be maple leaves, with a fond nod to Canada.

I devised a set of letters that would fit well into the size of blocks planned for the centre of the runner and stitched together these squares first. Next, I made the star block at the end of the word which has eight different fabrics in, picking up the colours in the lettering.

Finally, I made up the leaf blocks and used my design wall to try them out in different positions with reference to the letters until I was happy that there was a good colour balance across the whole piece.

There’s a narrow border and a neat red binding to pull the whole thing together.

I think the runner would also work well as a banner: with a hanging sleeve stitched to the back for a batten to go through, it would make a decorative wall-hanging for Thanksgiving.

I like the idea of choosing to be thankful. I’m thankful we have managed to make our move to the South-East after nearly two years of trying, I’m thankful that I now see more of my daughter, son-in-law, grand-daughter and my other son than was ever possible previously. So, I’m planning to have a UK Thanksgiving meal on 11th October with a possible internet link to the son in Canada, with the new table-runner on the table!

You can buy the pattern here.

Amanda Jane Textiles offers unique fabrics for sale here, quilt patterns here and classes here

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