Stitches in time….

On a recent visit to Somerset Heritage Centre, where we were presented with a huge array of ancient artefacts in the textiles collection; Mostly fashion, embroidered and printed textiles, Victorian hair  jewellery and hair combs. However, it was not the beauty of these items which I noticed it was the flaws, imperfections and the details which would usually go unnoticed;  the rips, mends and repair work.  The unseen beauty of darning and tatters telling complex stories.


Firstly I encountered these portrait paintings. Unfortunately, they seem to have been damaged somewhere, somehow. Perhaps that’s why they ended up here? Perhaps they have another story to tell, who knows…..


Then I noticed these details of British flags, weather beaten yet lovingly mended in parts. I love the detail of the horizontal stitching


More repair-work; the line quality of the stitches and the shading created by the tatters against the mesh, intrigues me and makes me wonder how I could adapt this as a medium to draw with.

time is short

Intrigued by stitches that I had just seen, I then enquired with Estelle and Bethan as to whether they had any samplers, and to my delight they did. The aspects of the samplers which caught my eye, were not only the exquisite details but also the wear and tear of they ancient pieces of textiles. Also take note, the sampler (above left) was made by a 9 year old;  they must have worked painstakingly hard to produce such delicate stitches and at such a young age. Whereas the slogan on the sampler (above right) is rather fitting, I reckon “Time is Short”


It was not only the details of the front of the samplers that caught my eye, but also the back. The reverse side reveals the process, the train of though,traces the movements of the hand, the story and is beautiful in it’s own right

After our visit to Somerset Heritage Centre,  I felt inspired and I began researching other examples of mending and certain methods caught my eye, in particular darning  and boro

mending sampler+boru

(Above Left) Darning Sampler from Bristol Museum collection
(Above Right) Detail of Boro, from

These textiles are generational storybooks, lovingly repaired & patched with what fabric was available. Never intended to be viewed as a thing of beauty, these textiles today take on qualities of collage, objects of history, and objects with life and soul.”

~John Foster, Accidental Mysteries blog ~

The beauty of boro mending did not only catch my eye but also the eye of Jude Hill, see excerpt below from ‘art, craft, and dedicated intent’ ~

“Although boro has become a bit of a trend these days, the raggedy edges and patching and primitive approach to cloth making…there is a subtle reminder that this was not an intended art form. This was life, mending, thrift, and respect for cloth. This is the result of living small with consciousness of means. The need to stay warm, the patience to repair, restore and to keep going….and the resulting beauty in that.”


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