May 2017 Jean Littlejohn

The May meeting was particularly popular (attributed mainly to the lure of being able to listen to half of the Embroiderers’ Guild President )

The early birds were not disappointed – the morning session was given over to a superb talk by our member, Susie Luke, and Lesley Parker from the Weald & Downland Living Museum. At the museum there has been a (mainly volunteer staffed) sewing team creating authentic costumes for the stewards to wear. “Authentic” is the key word here, as we listened to the level of detail  that goes into creating the costumes it soon became clear that this was a project that was meticulous in its approach and therefore incredibly successful in its results. Lesley passed round examples mainly from the Tudor and Victorian clothing collections and we were all just full of admiration; the inkle loom woven braids, the cartridge pleating, the beauty and simplicity of the linen shifts, the cut of the School Mistress’ jacket… and the list goes on. It was a fascinating talk, much enjoyed by us all. For those of you who missed it, Lesley is booked to come to a meeting next year and talk to us about Georgian clothing, & I for one can’t wait!

ALL SEWN UP: The afternoon session started with a presentation of a cheque to the hospice team in charge of the Dream Building project (the appeal to raise funds for the new hospice building). Avid readers of this web-site will know that we were set a challenge in January by our speaker, Kay Mawer from Clothkits, to buy a bag of scrap materials and turn it into something saleable. The challenge became a reality and many of our members, with a great deal of ingenuity and talent, created a plethora of items to sell. The final total raised by us was a staggering £1325 – A BIG THANK YOU to EVERYONE involved (especially Sue Clarke and Kay Mawer without whom this project would not have got off the ground)


At the cheque presentation: from left to right, Sue Clarke (Chichester Embroiderers’ Guild), Kay Mawer (Clothkits), Chloe Neilson-Hopkins and Sarah Tuhey (both from the Dreambuilding Project)

We then settled down for the star attraction – Jean Littlejohn – who needs little introduction, a very renowned embroiderer, half of the Double Trouble team, and co- President of the Embroiderers’ Guild. (Between Jan Beaney and herself they account for over 85 years of joint membership of the Guild!)


Jean being welcomed by Susan, our Chairman – not sure why they didn’t smile, perhaps it was something I said!!

Jean gave a fascinating talk about her work and her approach to design. Her advice to us included:  don’t ever start a piece of work without deciding what you are going to do, and what you want to achieve. How to do it ? Well that follows naturally from knowing what you want to do! Also don’t make the mistake of not sampling – you can’t expect to produce a masterpiece first time, there  will need to be a lot of trial and effort. Jean likes to have a noticeboard in her studio where she just pins photographs of all the things she likes and looks at them, becomes familiar with them and then there’s drawing and sketchbooks to explore recurring themes.

It was a very illuminating afternoon, not least because we were bedazzled by Jean’s beautiful work, she had many sketchbooks and pieces of work with her which we all happily examined and discussed at the end of the afternoon.

Some lucky members were picked in the ballot for her (over-subscribed) workshop the following day. Below are the initial photos of the lucky ones at work – they have reported that they had an hilarious and productive day. I hope to bring you more evidence of that next month………… as ever, watch this space!



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