Slow Stitch by Tania DiBerardino

Term: 2 Year: 2020

What is this Slow Stitch? In 2019 I was inspired to run a workshop at the Zart Nurturing Creativity Conference. I named the workshop session: ‘Slow Stitch – Sew’. This was a combination of two areas of interest for me, textiles and mindfulness.

During the workshop we created a range of hand stitched ‘moments in time’; focusing on slowing down and creating a slow stitched, mindful piece of textile.

The participants were requested to follow these instructions:

As a part of the experience of placing yourself into the process of Slow stitch, I ask you to bring along treasured fabric pieces, baby woolen blankets, handmade doilies, old clothing that holds a special memory, buttons, ribbons, beads, shells, and small treasures. (Be aware we will be cutting the materials and treasures up to reinvent and repurpose them into a hand stitched moment in time. Please only bring it along if you are happy to do this.)

So why is it called slow stitch? Slow stitch has come about from the Slow Art Movement. Prior to that we were introduced to the Slow Food Movement. It was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 and has since spread worldwide. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

The concept of slow encourages the maker to be mindful and present. It also encourages us to look back and appreciate and use traditional ways of art and craft making, to be more aware of the origins of our materials we are using. It encourages us to be less wasteful and repurpose materials. We can look back at and celebrate the use of stitch and textiles through so many cultures and times.

The Australian early Quilts dates from 1865 using cotton and silk and repurposed fabrics. The Indian Kantha quilts and fabrics dates back to the 16th and 17th Century. Kantha means ‘patched cloth’ and refers to both the tradition of producing these unique, quilted blankets, and making something useful and beautiful out of discarded items. The Japanese Boro dates to the Meiji period (1865) textiles that had been mended or patched together. The term is derived from Japanese boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired.

There is a wide history of early stitch and Textiles traditions, we can discuss and investigate with students prior to beginning our slow stitch making. Linking back to makers and creators of slow stitch from long ago to present day. Now go, be slow.

Further reading: Slow Stitch – Mindful & Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley Smith.

Tania DiBerardino
Art & Textile Consultant (Zart Education)