Textiles Is My Life

even my hobby

Sue Lancaster


Posted by Sue Lancaster on Apr 22, 2018

Sometimes I am required to come up with a statement about what I do, how I do it and also why I do what I do.

Even the first bit starts to get hard due to the fact that Textiles is a vast subject. When I went to Art College in the 70s the Textiles Department at Loughborough was divided into Embroidery, Print and Weave. There was also the Fashion Department which was separate. 

Embroidery encompassed all stitched textiles including patchwork and quilting as well as needle-made lace and , of course, this meant all hand stitching and all machine stitching.

Print covered all methods of designing and printing on fabric; Weave actually covered all means of working with fibre/yarn i.e. weaving, knitting, felt making and dyeing.

I chose to specialise in Embroidery for my degree but my home life had been full of textiles of all sorts. Members of my family had worked in the cotton mills of Bolton (my home town) as well as sewing and knitting all their own clothes. My mother worked as a tailoress, making officers uniforms for Burtons during the Second World War and my sister became a lecturer in Fashion having attended Manchester College of Art and Design in the 60s. My mother ran a 'Wool Shop' from 1960 until 1967 so I had plenty of supplies and, in fact, knitted my first jumper for myself when I was 8 in the latest, then new, Chunky Yarn....bright orange!

Today I continue to knit for myself and my family, make clothes mainly for myself. Another addition that happened along the way was designing and making costume for performance. The latter started whilst I was still at school and I was the school 'Wardrobe Mistress' when I was in the Sixth Form, followed by creating costumes, sets and props whilst teaching in Secondary Schools and in the amateur dramatics group 'Belper Players'. Since 1983, when I came to live in Sheffield, I have designed and made costumes for Bailey-Cox Academy, a local dance school of more than 500 pupils. I once even designed and made a 2 person, tap dancing, cow costume for a Pantomime.

All the above have been what I would call my 'Hobby Textiles' but the distinction is blurred because I have also had the opportunity to design and make for clients who compete, such as Ballroom dancers and Thomas Paulson, the British Silver Medal Figure Skater of 10 years ago. 

So....what do I do?

Mainly stitched textiles, mainly drawing with a sewing machine, sometimes dyeing, sometimes printing. I create wall hung works for the home, fashion accessories and dance costume.

How do I do it?

I draw on a wealth of knowledge accumulated over years of interest in order to solve the problems of how to design and make the items I need to create...always a new problem to solve and always a different item to produce.

Why do I do it?

I always have, I always will, and I want everyone to enjoy it too!

If you would like to see me demonstrate my skills this weekend I will be at Hathersage Community Hall taking part in Hope Valley Fringe, Saturday 28th April. I aim to create some designs, sample methods of creating and maybe get as far as making either a bag or a book jacket.

I would love it if you want to have a go...hopefully there will be a queue!

To add to the fun my colleague, Jude Shore will be joining in with some felt making.

I will also have with me the information for the classes which are taught at my studio in Nether Green on the western edge of Sheffield.

If you wish to book a specific time on Saturday for a chat or a short lesson in design or a textile process, please send me a message via the contact facility on this blog and I will find a suitable time slot.