Historical Pockets community workshops

Historic Pocket

During the month of March we are running a series of three workshops for elderly, isolated and vulnerable people exploring the history of pockets. There is also an open to all online workshop on the 27th March run in partnership with the Blackheath Embroiderers Guild.

Simple stitch techniques by workshop leader Samina Sattar

In the 17th – 19th Centuries, unlike the copious pockets in men’s apparel, women’s clothing did not have integral pockets as standard. The only means for a woman to carry her few possessions was in a ‘pocket’ or ‘pair of pockets’. These were tied around the waist and worn either between the layers of skirts and petticoats in the case of the ‘genteel’ woman or in the case of working or trading women, on the outside of their clothes for ease of access.

Due to the intimate nature of wearing these pockets, they were often embroidered and very personal to the wearer.

A delicate Tatting pocket from the 19thC

We are revisiting this idea in encouraging new stitchers to express their ideas of ‘self’ and ‘story’ through stitching simple embroidered pockets that will be incorporated into an exhibition and fashion show once we are all safely allowed to mingle again.

A pair of finished Pockets by embroiderer Chris Solly.

The mindful process of stitch and opportunity for reflection and reminiscing is a valuable one for elderly and vulnerable people living in sheltered accommodation. The ‘digital divide’ has left many isolated and bereft of contact during the lockdown months of 2020 and 2021. With thanks to funding from the National Lottery Community Fund we are providing an opportunity for people to safely make connections with others whilst exploring a new or re-found skill and taking time to create a simple textile heirloom.

We are lucky enough to have experienced embroiderers, Samina Sattar of Samines leading our workshops and Christine Solly sharing her wealth of experience with our participants.

Illuminated Arts Director – Melissa Jo Smith discovers a family heirloom ‘pocket’ in her sewing box!

The Historic Pockets community workshops have been granted funding from the National Lottery Local Connections Community Fund.

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