As a De La Warr Pavilion volunteer, I didn’t anticipate that I would be getting involved when I arrived at the workshop. I expected to be working in a supporting role. However, I soon realised that I was to be included in the learning experience and it didn’t take me long to adjust and become absorbed in the afternoon’s activity.

Having watched my grandmother sew a very, very long time ago, darning was a technique I only half-remembered. It was really nice to learn how to darn properly and to discover that there are many different and varied effects that can be achieved within the process.

Celia Pym, our tutor from the Royal College of Art, was an absolute expert and very inspiring. She organised the session very well with a clear introduction explaining what we would be doing and distributed explanatory diagrams and books for inspiration. She touched on the history of the craft and provided all the materials except for the garments which we had brought from home. Celia brought along a contagious enthusiasm for the craft. The way darning can extend the life of well-loved clothes, not only in a practical way, and also how it can create beautiful and sophisticated objects in the process. The very act of working on a piece of clothing in this way personalises it, making it harder to throw away. It can even turn it into an exceptional art object.

Celia demonstrated how we could solve the problems created by moths in jumpers, cardigans and socks and the wear and tear on cuff edges. She showed us how to use thicker thread on jackets and fine delicate thread on cashmere to great effect, subtle or bold, with either matching or contrasting coloured wools. Intriguingly, we could turn the random nature of the holes into something creative.

The process was calming and relaxing and it gave us all an opportunity to talk and share things in common whilst producing some very varied results that were lovely to compare at the end of the day. I felt so involved by the end of it that I just had to complete my sample at home later and it left me feeling that I could embrace those random moth holes rather than fear them and, in future, find creative ways to keep my old favourites going!

All the best,

Posted by Caspar Jayasekera on Wednesday 18 September 2019