To encourage you to join in with our GladRags Project, we've roped in local textile designer Nancy Shafee who is going to give you some ideas over the coming weeks. 

We will be sharing some of the many designs that are beginning to arrive too, but don’t be put off by the beautifully sewn ones.  Over the coming weeks Nancy will show you that you don't need a sewing machine, and in some cases you don't even need to be able to use a needle and cotton!   

Over to Nancy. . . 

Hi Everyone –

Initially you are just being asked to send a picture of your finished design to [email protected] along with a little bit of information about your choice of subject. We will be including some of your pictures each week, so if you want to remain anonymous, just give your picture a random title! Otherwise, don’t forget to name your picture file when you send it in.  

ribbonsLet's start with ideas. 

When the publicity says 'something that makes you feel good' - what comes to mind?  It could be sunshine or rainbows, your dog, bluebells, birds or butterflies.  Or even cupcakes!   Take just one of those and think about it. 

You will find lots of possible pictures on the internet to help you. Just look at Google Images and type in ‘outline’ after your word (eg butterfly outline).

Next - what have you got to hand?

Take a look around your home and find some fabric, a cotton handkerchief or perhaps a school shirt that is too small for anyone? You only need a square about 17cms to allow for a 15cms design and a border all round so that later it can be stitched to its neighbours.

What about buttons and ribbons? Needles, threads and scissors are going to be useful.  Have you got any paints, or colour-fast felt-pens, like Sharpies? 

Start by cutting out your square, and mark a 15cms square on the back in crayon or pencil.  Sew a simple running stitch around your line to show your working area on the front of the fabric.

For her effective design, Eileen Johnson has used a mix of felt pens/fabric markers and buttons for this beautiful heart.  I love the way she has included a couple of broken buttons. Life is not perfect!

Now let's consider your abilities

Feel confident with a needle and thread?   Why not choose something you love doing rather than a subject - perhaps hand-stitched patchwork, applique, embroidery? Something that makes you feel good.     

Here are two very competent pictures using traditional stitching – embroidery and patchwork.

Meryl Hayes has used an interesting random-dyed fabric on which to embroider these pretty seed-head designs. In fact the stitching is not super-complicated but the mix of colours and shapes is just beautiful.

Jane Brider sent in two patchwork panels using the same design but very different fabrics. We’ll show you the other one at a later date so you will see how just the choice of fabrics can change a design. Jane shared her inspiration, 

" The green represents the garden and outdoor spaces that have been so valuable to all lucky enough to have a garden and use of parks that are so beneficial to us all in different ways. " 

Are you thinking 'I don't sew'? 

That's ok. You can still be involved - maybe even as a whole family as an antidote to home schooling! 

I have been experimenting with stencils and paints this week, weaving and (of course) feltmaking.  Next time, I’ll share some design tips with you so you can all have a go!

Meanwhile – stay safe – be ‘crafty’!



Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association, Fibre Art Network, Heritage Craft Association and current Chair of the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen. 

Nancy lives in West Horsley. She teaches feltmaking and sells her work through The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen Gallery in Milford and Haslemere Museum.