We are living in unusual times. Many of us are doing things we never thought we would ever do like chatting to our friends over zoom and clearing out the garage. Some people are working long hours in dangerous situations and others are struggling to cope with entertaining the kids and battling boredom.

In Tadcaster we are no strangers to coping with adversity, but this time we don’t have a positive practical focus like clearing up or rebuilding after the floods. Tadcrafters was started in 2016 to allow members of the community to help “make a difference” in a way that they were able to. In 2020 it is clear there is still a need to support each other and we are helping people to do this in a variety of ways.

When you think of knitting and sewing you will probably be conjuring up the image of a “knitting nana” like in the Shreddies advert. Have you ever considered that this might be both ageist and sexist at the same time? Have you ever dismissed the idea of knitting and sewing as “not for me”? Is it possible that this is because you don’t want to be identified as doing an activity associated with elderly women? You might be surprised to find out that these wise old birds are on to a good thing. The evidence behind the mental and physical benefits of such hobbies is extensive.

Activities such as knitting and sewing can reduce stress and anxiety with similar effects as yoga or meditation. The rhythm and repetitiveness of the actions has a calming effect. The sense of accomplishment and achievement boosts self-esteem as well as the immune system.

After the First World War shell-shocked solders discovered embroidery helped them to recuperate. Women in WW2 POW camps made quilts not in a jovial sewing bee kind of way but quietly in isolation in a spirit of personal expression and self-identity. Today prisoners are commissioned to work on embroideries which they sell on line, stitching alone in their cells finding respite from the noise of prison life outside. Clare Hunter wrote an excellent book called The Threads of Life which is all about identity, protest, memory, power and politics told through the stories of the men and women, over centuries and across continents, who have used the language of sewing to make their voices heard. You will be able to find a vast array of other studies and newspaper articles online if you are interested in finding out more. Sarah Corbett is an award winning campaigner and founder of the Craftivist Collective where she demonstrates how craft can produce long-lasting positive change.  You will be able to find a vast array of other studies and newspaper articles online if you are interested in finding out more.

If you would like to join an increasing number of people who are learning to knit, sew or embroider to experience the benefits of some of these valuable skills and also help to “make a difference” explore our website for some really useful projects. If you live in the Tadcaster/Sherburn area and don’t have the supplies, we can help, all for free.

To commemorate this unusual and unprecedented time, with the help of the people who live here, we are planning to create a wall hanging to celebrate the amazing community we live in. We would like people of all ages, and genders, to join in by making a 15cm/6” square that represents themselves, a loved-one, a feature or an organisation in the Tadcaster and surrounding villages area. The finished squares can be dropped off at The Barn (opposite John Smith’s old arch entrance) until the end of the year when they will be made into a wall hanging or suitable display to commemorate this unusual time.

Squares can represent loved-ones who are no longer with us

“I am so pleased to hear about the patchwork project. We are all affected in different ways by this unique and, frankly, scary situation. The wall hanging in the Barn will help us celebrate how the residents of the Town and surrounding Villages came together and looked out for each other in so many ways. The process of making the squares will contribute to the well-being of the members of our community. I look forward to seeing the finished product” Steve Cobb Tadcaster Town Mayor.

IMG_20200412_175637

Mayor Steve Cobb

If you would like to make your mark as part of our community we hope you will join in. If you would like instructions have a look below or email tadcrafters@outlook.com.

Take a little time for some quiet contemplation, remember a loved-one, join together with friends and family and make your contribution to the project. Tidying the garage can wait.

Instructions

This will take quite a good few hours to do properly so tackle each section at a time. Don’t try to do it all together and take plenty of time to do a really good job.

1. Draw your Design


You will need:
• Paper, pencil , ruler, eraser
• Coloured pencils if possible
• A picture to look at or copy will make it easier

1. Draw a box which is 15 x15 cm (6 x 6”) on a piece of paper. (You could do it on a computer but make sure it will print out the right size)
2. Draw a line 1cm (1/2”) all the way round just inside the box (to create a seam allowance)-
3. Think of a design that that represents you. You might want to look at a picture or mirror to help you.
4. Draw the design to fill the big box, (but don’t put lots of detail around the edges in the seam allowance where it won’t be seen.) It must be suitable to be re-created in fabric and stitches so keep it simple. Shapes smaller than a 5p coin are better made by embroidery, buttons, sequins etc. Bigger shapes can be cut out of fabric, ribbon or lace etc
5. Add a name to the design in some format (eg J Smith, JS, Smithy, Joe S or Josie)
6. Label the main features so that everyone can understand what it will look like and what it will be made out of.
7. If you need advice or materials, take a picture of your design and send it to tadcrafters@outlook.com . I will tell you if I think it will work ok. Let me know what supplies you will need.

2. Prepare your materials

You will need:
• Your design drawing
• Tracing paper (If you don’t have tracing paper you could improvise with other thin paper such as baking paper, tissue paper or even loo roll)
• Scissors
• A 15x15cm (6×6”) piece of medium weight fabric (eg suitable for trousers, jackets, curtains).
• Small pieces of coloured fabric depending on your design (fabric that doesn’t fray too much is easier e.g. felt)
• Different coloured thread.
• Pins (You could improvise with paper clips or hair grips if necessary)
• A bag or box to keep your little bits of work in

1. Using thin paper, trace the shapes from your drawing to make templates for any fabric you need to cut out. NB do not just trace your drawing, you are looking at the shapes.
2. Cut out the traced paper shapes. NB where I have added a little extra for fabric that can be tucked under other pieces of fabric when finished. This isn’t essential but gives a neater finish.
3. Pin them to the fabric you want to cut out. (You can draw round if you have no pins). Cut out the shapes in fabric.
4. Cut out a 15cm/6” square of medium weight fabric for your background fabric.

3. Make your square

You will need:
• A hand sewing needle
• A few pins
• A sewing machine if available but hand sewing is fine
• If you need help to sew you could look at.
o How to blanket stitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=159&v=bqi86fVpJ1o&feature=emb_title
o How to sew by Hand: https://youtu.be/-xEYMT8QRyg

1. Start with the back or larger pieces first.
a) Pin in place.
b) Tack (temporary) stitch. Remove pins.
c) Final stitch around the edges.
Hand stitching: Blanket stitch if you can, failing that use small stitches around the edge of each piece.
Machine sewing: Zig zag stitch, width 3, length 0.2
d) Neaten the edge of your square with a zig zag or blanket stitch to stop it fraying.
2. Add any buttons, beads etc. Remember you will not see the 1cm around the edge when the squares are stitched together. Do not put anything bulky (like a button) within 2 cm of the edge of your square as they will get in the way when stitching the squares together at the end of the project
3. Add the tiny details by stitching. This is likely to take quite a long time. If you go wrong just unpick your stitches carefully and do it again. Don’t hurry.
4. Add your name. If you find this tricky you might want to write this on lightly in pencil/chalk first then stitch over it using a back stitch.
5. Take a photo of your finished work to keep and let everyone see what you have done. Hand your finished square in at The Barn (opposite John Smiths old entrance, Tadcaster), before Christmas 2020, to be all sewn together to create a display.