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Stitching a City: The Story of a Costume for Gloucester

Exhibitions at Gloucester Cathedral

To coincide with the Costume for Gloucester being on display at Gloucester Cathedral in September, a series of fascinating talks and workshops are taking place at The Ed Shed

Gloucester’s Threads initiative began as a collaborative community stitching project to celebrate the area’s rich textile history. It has since developed a beautiful life of its own, with more than 100 stitchers from across Gloucester coming together to create a Costume for Gloucester.

This is a trailblazing project, run by Voices Gloucester in collaboration with Gloucester Cathedral. A coat designed by local costumier Katie Taylor will celebrate the city’s diverse people, eclectic history and fascinating stories. Community stitching groups and individuals have each embroidered a section, offering a patchwork collection of intimate stories and visual histories connected to the city.
Community artist, Jo Teague, is charged with bringing hundreds of contributions together, which include impressions of the city from recently arrived refugees, tales from the history books, favourite places, and regional quirks - yes the famous cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill has been stitched!
The finished design will be worn in the Gloucester Day parade before going on display in the Lady Chapel of Gloucester Cathedral between 15 September and 1 October, alongside a collection of clothing donated by members of the local community - all with unique stories connected to the city. The deadline for sending contributions to this display is 31 July; further information can be found at
In conjunction with the exhibition, on Friday 29 September and Saturday 30 September, Jo Teague is hosting The Threads Sessions - a series of fascinating talks and workshops at The Ed Shed in the city centre, led by textile experts with special interests in costume, fabric, fashion and design. This will culminate in a special session with Tim Parry Williams, Professor of Art & Textiles at the University of Bergen, who has been exploring the Gloucestershire Archives searching for links between Gloucestershire and Norwegian Cloth cultures.
The Ed Shed is located in The Folk, on Westgate Street in Gloucester’s City Centre. All the events are free, but booking is required - visit the events pages at for details.
Talks at The Ed Shed include:
Friday 29 September
11am-Noon: Community artist Jo Teague and Amanda Hough of the Gloucestershire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers explore the 15th Century staining techniques that were used to dye and mark cloth. Their research focuses on recreating these recipes today and the colours they produced.
2pm-3pm: Katie Taylor is a Gloucester-based costumier who has worked in film and stage, and the designer of the Costume of Gloucester, funded by Voices Gloucester. She will tell us about her inspiration behind her design and the making of the Costume and collaborating with over 100 local makers.
4pm-5pm: In their session ‘The New Puritans. An exploration into sustainable fashion’ Margaret McDonough, fashion lecturer and former designer, and Fiona Curran, film maker, sound artist and poet, describe their collaboration with students to create a collection of clothing and a film using zero waste and sustainability at its heart. The film and talk will open our eyes to a new understanding of our everyday clothing.
6pm-7pm: Lizzie Johansson-Hartley, Gloucester Museum Collections Officer, will show how Janet Arnold, fashion historian and costume designer, transformed the art of historic pattern design and recreation. Her books ‘Patterns of Fashion’ showcased the intricate details of sewing patterns through the ages, showing the changes in fashion from the 1660s up to 1940, but also giving crucial and accurate scale construction details that are still used around the world by museums, theatres, re-enactment groups and students and have never been out of print.
Saturday 30th September
11am-Noon: Aysha Randerra is the manager of the Emma Willis Sewing studio, a community sewing studio based at Gloucester’s Friendship Café. This workshop will explore the traditions of sari wearing with a chance to try them on and understand a little more about the beauty of this traditional clothing.
2pm-3pm: Amy Twigger Holroyd is a designer, maker, researcher and writer who explores alternative ways of living with our clothes that meets our fundamental human needs and at the same time respect ecological limits. Her Fashion Fictions project, which brings people together to imagine, explore and enact alternative fashion worlds as an unconventional route to real-world change.
4pm-5pm: Simon and Ann Cooper are from Flaxland, part of the Fibreshed Movement. Their talk, with demonstrations, will show how flax is one of our oldest crops, grown in the British Isles since the bronze age, and its stems produce one of the strongest and most versatile plant fibres. With a growing understanding about why we should return to wearing and using more sustainable clothing, Simon and Ann are leading the way in encouraging the growth of flax and the production of linen locally.
6pm-7pm: Tim Parry Williams, Professor of Art & Textiles at the University of Bergen, has been exploring the Gloucestershire Archives searching for links between Gloucestershire and Norwegian Cloth cultures as part of his funded project ‘Beyond Heritage: Material Making Meaning.’ Along with Kari-Anne Pederson, an internationally respected expert on Norwegian Textiles and Dress, they will present preliminary research findings for the first time here in the UK, and will reveal evidence suggesting how English cloth may have been used in Norway.

Explore Gloucestershire
24 July 2023

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