Members Project 23/24: Repair, Restore, and Recreate

Featured image: Boro Sampler

Repair, Restore and Recreate have become buzz words and we are all aware of the need to extend the life of what we use. But being textile artists, we also embrace the idea of enhancing and decorating textiles as we repair and/or restore them.

What we repair and how may now be far removed from the days of the turning collars and darning socks, but we are nonetheless keen to reuse and recycle. The traditional patchwork quilts have evolved into memory quilts with photos, letters and other ephemera; boro has moved beyond simply patching; and darning has gained a new life as a surface decoration. Water soluble ‘fabrics’ and the embellisher now enables textile artists to create completely new fabrics. Machine work is done over holes and tears and the garment takes on a whole new life.

The Japanese word Kintsugi is a philosophy that treats breakages and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to be disguised. Textile artists now also embrace the history of textiles and see the holes and tears as part of their history. No longer cast aside, we take old table linen and re-use the embroideries in new ways and knitwear with holes becomes a new canvas.

Kintsugi plate – image from

What calls out to you to be repaired? The well-worn cushion, an old winter coat, the thumbed, leather-bound poetry book, the 1920s beaded bag? Looking further afield, what about the old stone wall whose rocks now lie amongst the grass; an old fence, worn and textured; the distressed and peeling paint on an old barn door; or the rust and lichen on a garden gate? Seeing them sad and forlorn, can you also envisage them repaired and restored to their former glory?

What of the need for mental or physical repair? In these times of upheaval, we all recognise the need for some restorative ‘private space’ and ‘me time’. Meditation (also known as mindfulness) was once only practised within a religious tradition but more and more people are embracing the benefits of this ancient technique. Stitching can help to reduce anxiety and stress, can benefit both those who need care and the carers, the isolated and the over-whelmed, it is a form of mental repair and restores calm into busy and distracted lives. Do you enjoy the gentle pace and rhythm of needle and thread, as you stitch do you envisage the untangling of jumbled up thoughts and feelings? What form of stitching helps you unwind and relax – simple hand stitch like Sashiko or more complex canvas-work patterns, or do you prefer the machine as you watch the needle go back and forth?

Jeans by Morgan James.

What of recreate? Do you enjoy the challenge and ultimate pleasure of taking fabrics, threads and other media and combining them into something new, or extending the life of an old textile? The children’s clothes turned into a memory quilt; silk tops and muslin meshed together by the embellisher, the plastic wires and home-made sequins combined into wild and vibrant wall-art; snippets of old lace embedded into papers and made into unique book art; old buttons covered and given a completely new decorative surface.

We invite you to interpret, in whatever way you choose, your own idea of Repair, Restore and Recreate.

Downloadable Guidelines and the Registration form will be provided on this page shortly. You will need to be a member to take part, but you can initially register your interest and the piece will need to be completed and submitted by end of August 2024.

Note: Your piece should be a new and original piece of work.  You cannot use a pre-purchased kit or design of any sort.