Leominster in stitches

PUBLISHED: 14:01 14 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:59 20 February 2013

Leominster in stitches

Leominster in stitches

Sharon Chilcott visits the group that has the history of Leominster sewn up

Drawn together by one womans passion for sewing and local history, a team of talented and dedicated stitchers, artists and historians are busy interpreting images of Leominster from medieval times to the present day.

A year into the five-year project, Wendy Rulton cant contain her delight at the creative masterpiece that is taking shape. Already, the 16 or so regular members of Leominster in Stitches have completed 10 stunning, carefully worked panels, quickly rising to the challenge of learning new skills and teaching each other as they go along. Im not sure how many panels there will be when it is finished, maybe 20 to 30, the problem is it one of those things thats growing all the time, enthuses Wendy.

The group, which meets on Mondays at the Community Centre in Leominster, uses a range of modern and ancient techniques. These include patchwork, felting, crewel work (a traditional freestyle form of ancient embroidery using wool to create a slightly raised feature), machine appliqu, tapestry, stem stitch lettering and hand embroidery. Members have also learnt the art of trapunto or embroidered quilting to recreate the stone carvings in Leominster Priory. This technique involves stuffing the material to raise the design and then using wax crayon to enhance the effect. At least one of the panels will incorporate 3D dolls, made using a form of stumpwork raised and padded embroidery originating in the 17th century.

We are a social group as well and we are learning a lot, says Wendy. For example, we have been on a medieval craft day together and we had a very instructive visit from a craft group from Almeley.

The group has also had invaluable help from local artists, including Brian Pollard and Arthur Davies, who have assisted with the design of many of
the panels. Sue Lindsay has helped out by designing a Wheels of Industry panel depicting the industrial revolution and Meg Williams completed many of the drawings for the medieval panels. Alan Hobbs, a member of a history group which Wendy belongs to, has been roped in to help with research and drawings.

The groups secretary, Judy Middleton, does not number sewing among her skills, although fellow group members are determined to help her learn. Her attentions have mainly been devoted to raising funds to support the project. She has obtained a small amount of funding from Age UK and a grant from Grass Roots in Herefordshire which has enabled the group to buy materials and to produce a leaflet about the project. There has also been support from Active at 60, Friends of the Museum and Leominster Town Council.

Wendy says: I am doing something I enjoy but, as my kids dont want what I make any more, this enables me to create something they wont be lumbered with! My dream is that eventually, when it is finished, somewhere in town will have a proper exhibition room for it and it will be a tourism attraction. Meanwhile the finished panels are on display in Leominster Library, sponsored and framed by The Gallery in the Square.

To find out more or to offer help with the project, contact Wendy Rulton on 01568 620506.

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