Monthly Archives: January 2015

  • I Need to Fix the Holes in my Heels, Elbows, Pockets and Knees: Darning and Mending Workshop with Celia Pym..

    We all understand the heartache upon discovering that moths have made a meal of our most favourite jumper, or that one sock has become threadbare and we don’t have any other clean pairs.  When clothing shops are in abundance, it’s easy to go ahead and throw our holey garments away. Yet, there’s no way to replace or recreate the sentimentality and stories found in well-loved clothing.

    Celia Pym is an artist passionate about the stories that accompany holes, working to give clothing a second chance. Instead of hiding the marks of mending, Celia recognises the process of such work by recording this new chapter of a garment’s life in bold, and outstanding thread. Using mending as design rather than just a necessity, the pattern of the stitches offers a new aesthetic, one that reflects upon the intrinsic beauty in thread and cloth, or even indeed in making itself.

    Back in the age of austerity and rationing when ‘making do’ was the norm, clothes were constantly repaired, altered or made into something new entirely. Dwindling resources and funds, and an understanding of such issues present us with a recurrent need to make do with what we have. So, in our new age of enlightenment we are given the responsibility - or perhaps, have the fervor - to revisit lost skills that will allow us to make do and mend in a more interesting and creative manner.

    Celia’s Master’s research at the Royal College of Art led her to mend holes in other peoples’ garments for a year, exploring the spaces that the body occupies and detecting as it were the daily life of these garments. Observing her uncle’s sister darn a jumper over many years so that eventually the arms were held together entirely by darning, it isn’t surprising that Celia was enthralled by such charm and affection towards a garment that she carried on darning.





    Celia has exhibited her work at such places as the Transition and Influence Gallery, Prick Your Finger and King’s College London, and now conducts workshops to teach others how to darn. She believes that darning allows you to become aware of how something was made; seeing where the hole is allows you to see how to put it back together. Traditionally, communities would come together socially to do their household chores such as knitting and mending, sharing skills and stories throughout. We offer you the chance to come together at the Ray Stitch Sewing School for a workshop with Celia to learn a new skill and share your stories.

    So come along to our two-part workshop “I Need to Fix the Holes in my Heels, Elbows, Pockets and Knees: Darning and Mending” With Celia Pym on Tuesday 27th January and Tuesday 3rd February for a couple hours of intimate mending.

    Dates: Tuesday 27th January and 3rd February
    Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
    Price: £60




    celia pym postcard jan '14 Image Courstesy of Annemor Sundbo's Ragpile



    "I like seeing how something is made, how it works.
    Darning is filling in holes and joining edges together.
    Sometimes darning can be tender and tenderness is important.
    Darning helps you understand the thing you are mending.
    If you darn a hole in an opposite colour to the original textile, you can see clearly what got worn away. Darning highlights that something has changed and that time has passed."

    Read more about Celia's previous and upcoming work here - (I love the title of this workshop! - What do I have to do to make it ok?) And read here about a fascinating collaboration with Kings College as 'mender in residence' in the college's Dissecting Room.

    Words by Steph.


  • Japanese Fabric

    Have you seen our Japanese fabric section lately? If you're searching for something a little bit different for a new year garment project, now is definitely the time to take a look.

    In addition to the ever-popular, distinctive prints of Nani Iro, we've some beautifully and equally distinct designer printed sateen and lawn with geometric designs and sharp colours, ideal for slinky, modern styles.....



    Double gauze fabric is always a very popular choice in the shop for dress and blouse projects. Widely used for Japanese apparel because of the breathability of the two fine layers, it creates a lovely soft and drapey effect and clothes seem to be cool and light and warm and snug at the same time - impressive! We've recently added a new, double sided polka dot in 5 colourways to our range. Hmmm, what shall we make...?!


    And something very seasonal and very Japanese, these textured woven fabrics - evocative of the Japanese geological landscape, think richly textured layers of limestone interbedded with pebbles and wave-worn shells....

    We've a hundred and one ideas for these fabrics; we love the colour and texture and the horizontal patterning - we're planning pencil skirts, prim blouses, tunic dresses...

    Watch this space, we'll be posting pics of our creations just as soon as our little fingers can stitch them!


    Words by Ray.

  • Start the year with some new skills and a new dress...

    Happy New Year Stitchers!

    To celebrate - and to alleviate those back-to-work blues - we bring you a great offer:

    20% off our shirt dress class with Sew Dixie Lou beginning this week. Details below....


    McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

    Wednesday 07 January 2015

    Session: 3

    Price: Reduced from £145 to £116 (Call the shop to book - 020 7704 1060)

    Time: 6.30-9.30pm

    Level: Intermediate

    A flattering and versatile waisted shirt dress with a close-fitting bodice, collar and side pockets. Make with short or bracelet length sleeves or a sleeveless version and choose either a pleated or a fitted skirt. Your teacher will be Clare Szabo, author of the popular Sew Dixie Lou Blog. The dress is a great favourite of hers - read her account of making two versions of the dress at

    - All sundry materials and refreshments will be provided in the class.

    - Students for this course should be competent basic sewers and as a minimum should have completed our Next Steps session or equivalent.

    - Some homework will be required during the course.

    - The pattern is included and will be yours to take away but you will be required to bring your own fabric.