The workroom at 401 Richmond St. W. was transformed on Sunday, April 3 into a circle of heads bowed over red or blue fabric backed by white muslin, sewing needles flashing in and out tracing traditional geometric patterns.
Nell Coleman took 15 museum volunteers through a well-structured sequence of steps in Japanese sashiko embroidery. Nell started us off on a small sample to develop our skills in creating a line of “rice grain” stitches across a prepared pattern. She then challenged us to choose our own patterns for a triangular bag that Japanese school children learn to make.
Several participants brought books on sashiko and samples of this decorative technique applied to clothing and household items. A light box and an iron rounded out the contributions to the event by volunteers.
It was great fun to see how each of us applied our new skills to the creation of our bags. In addition to Nell’s instruction we learned from each other’s approach to selecting a pattern, tracing it on the fabric and beginning the stitching.
Everyone went away with a new understanding of a traditional Japanese craft and the motivation to complete our bags. Our thanks to Nell, a volunteer in the conservation department and the Yardage Sale preparation, for a wonderful afternoon.
After this successful gathering in the workroom, Strand News would like to hear from other volunteers with skills and a passion for a textile art that they would be interested in sharing in a 3- or 4-hour workshop. Contact us with suggestions.
Strand News is the online meeting place for members of the Volunteer Association of the Textile Museum of Canada. Our annual fundraisers, including the Textile Bazaar, support Museum programs and exhibitions.