Selvedge sews the seeds of spring with new series of DIY workshops on Archway Road
PUBLISHED: 15:00 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:45 31 March 2017
Selvedge magazine kicks off Spring with a series of decoupage, embroidery and weaving classes designed to teach you new skills whilst staying on trend
Spring is well and truly in the air at textile magazine Selvedge. The textiles magazine, which has its shop and studio on Archway Road in Highgate, is doing away with wintry knits and heavy throws and welcoming in fairy-tale embroidery, appliqué and storytelling stitching as the snowdrops bloom and the weather warms up.
From tapestry weaving to vintage decoupage, the workshops will celebrate the art of hand-making and are led by celebrated designer-makers from up and down the country. The classes will be held at the north London studio that also plays host to a shop selling a curated collection of locally hand-made artisan products.
The popularity of handcrafting has risen in the last few years, due in part to a rejection of mass produced, identikit products.
“People want to make and revamp more themselves and there has been a big recurrence in home crafts and learning new hobbies,” says Lisa Tilley, who creates bags and suitcases by reusing vintage products for her brand, uoldbag. “Modern mass produced items just aren’t made to last and old products are both good quality and stylishly designed. I think that people are valuing the story behind items more.”
Textile designer Sarah Campbell of Sarah Campbell Designs, who is running a workshop later in the year, explains that in a computer-driven age, people want to feel in touch with the products they own, rather than sold to.
“For almost all of our human experience we’ve been making, now all of a sudden we aren’t,” she explains, encouraging people to turn their hand to making. “Come and have fun, come and have the physical experience of making and doing.”
“There is a lot to be said for taking time out from our busy, frantic lives,” says embroider and story-teller Becky Adams. “It’s what I call the slow revolution.” In a world where our lives are ever more frenetic and world headlines are cause for concern, Adams says it’s all about slowing down and enjoying the process of making something by hand.
“It’s nice to create your own little world in a world with so much turmoil.” The process of creating something unique is all about storytelling. Adams has worked everywhere from schools to prisons. “No matter who you are, you always have a story to tell,” she says.
Those with limited artistic talent might think that rediscovering the techniques of the past is beyond them, but this isn’t the case. “It’s really therapeutic,” says Adams, “the hardest part is saying I’m going to take a day out.” Even if the end product is imperfect, that’s part and parcel of the making-ethos.
“It’s good for the human spirit to allow yourself to be creative and not produce a perfect end product,” says Campbell.
It’s tempting to associate weaving, stitching and appliqué with a Little England, make-do-and-mend time before mass production made consumer goods readily available, and identikit products could be bought and replaced at the click of a button.
Polly Leonard, editor of Selvedge magazine believes that in a time of abundant material posessions, value has to be sourced elsewhere. “Skills particularly traditional, what one might call dying skills, have taken on a cult status,” she explains. “Selvedge has picked up on this trend and established a programme of workshops in everything from Dorset Button making, tapestry weaving to smocking.” The designer-makers clearly agree. “People are taking themselves back to the eras of their parents and grandparents,” says Tilley, “to treasure and value things including time for themselves for a peaceful mind.”
The traditional practices highlighted by Selvedge’s workshops are far from obsolete. In fact, they are bang on-trend.
Reclaiming and using found items has been part and parcel of the up cycling movement popular amongst designer makers and trendy young people alike in recent years. It’s something we’ve seen in food-waste kitchens where chefs use the materials thrown out by others, to fashions inspired by the Punk movement’s DIY ethos. Reclaiming and reusing is all about the story, and that’s what inspires curiosity creator Becky Adams, who will guide students in the art of hand embroidery, appliqué and rubber-stamping. Her art studies the human condition and through stitch and vintage fabric, she carefully creates a physical story. The cloth and paper fabric pocket book guests will take home provides space for the ephemera of life, from tickets and photos to newspaper cuttings and cards.
Workshop: Keepsake Embroidery with Becky Adams, April 1, £120
Vintage has been in fashion since hipsters rediscovered vinyl and Dr Martens in the early 2000s. It’s not just artisanal flat whites and distressed lumberjack shirts that gave vintage it’s status, however, with trunks, bags and satchels becoming widely popular amongst trendsetters. Lisa Tilley’s vintage items are hand crafted in Bedford. Combining antique suitcases, boxes and other ephemera with decoupage, crochet patterns and print, she creates unique pieces of art. Students at the workshop will adorn their own sewing box with reused vintage pieces.
Workshop: Decoupage with Lisa Tilley, April 22, £120
Ye Olde England
Boho looks have been featuring on our catwalks for years now, and the trend has trickled down into our homewares in recent years. In celebration of pre-industrial traditional British methods of creation, embroidery is now a stalwart member of the homewares lexicon. From ornate cushions to children’s toys and bespoke initialled napkins, more and more people are turning to the trend for a touch of the personal. Pattern designer, illustrator and embroiderer Megan Ivy Griffiths is inspired by British folk art. In her workshop, attendees will learn the art of embellishment, hand embroidery techniques and stitching to take home a spring flower maiden doll.
Workshop: Fairy-tale embroidery with Megan Ivy Griffiths, May 13, £120
It’s no secret that hyyge has been the go-to interiors equivalent of comfort food for some years now. Making your home a cosy place to live is exactly what Jane Withers’ workshop hopes to achieve. Jane established Janie Knitted Textiles in 2015 having trained in knitwear design. The company uses natural fibres to create their home and fashion products and uses all UK-suppliers for their yarns. Guests at the lampshade weaving workshop will leave with a hand-woven, dip dyed lampshade made using French knitted British wool cables.
Workshop: Lampshade weaving with Jane Withers, May 20, £135
All workshops run from 11am to 5pm and include materials and a light lunch. There is space for eight people on each workshop, no prior experience necessary.
Selvedge runs an ongoing workshop programme in its north London studio. To find out more click here.
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