Hand sewn labours of love

Sandra with her crewel footstool which is a finalist in the Simpson Arts Prize. 196984_01

By Danielle Kutchel

An Officer resident who has donated more than 100 hand sewn items to charity is a finalist in Melbourne’s newest art show, the Lifestyle Communities Simpson Arts Prize.

Sandra Edwards, who lives at Lifestyle Officer, entered two pieces into the competition: a christening gown and a crewel footstool.

The footstool gained the attention of judges and was shortlisted as a finalist.

“It’s quite surprising. I am excited; it was a little unexpected, because I wasn’t sure what else was going to be entered,” Mrs Edwards said.

The crewel footstool took her around 12 months to complete, with each stitch painstakingly formed by hand.

Likewise, the christening gown was a labour of love that has taken a couple of years to complete, with exquisite beading and stitching again done by hand.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do, to try my hand at a christening gown – and I did it!” she said.

The veteran needleworker, who has been sewing for 60 years, says she enjoys making intricate pieces. She is also attracted to the history of crewel work, which was popular during the Jacobean and Elizabethan eras.

Another of her projects is a crewel work top for a footstool that belonged to her grandmother and has been passed down the through the family.

She draws inspiration from craft shows, magazines and other people’s artwork, using their achievements as motivation to try her hand at something new.

Mrs Edwards also creates pieces for numerous charities. She donates many of her knitted creations to Kogo, a Caulfield-based not for profit that provides winter woollies to some of the most vulnerable in the community.

She prefers to knit blankets, which allow her more space to unleash her creativity with patterns and colours.

As well as this, Mrs Edwards has previously supported Angel Gowns and provides items to Cranbourne-based charity Backpacks 4 VIC Kids.

“I’m just doing something I love and happy to share what I’ve done and hopefully encourage others to have a go,” she said.

The inaugural Simpson Arts Prize will be held on Wednesday 28 August at the Melbourne Pavilion and is open to the public. The judging panel includes Livinia Nixon and art and craft expert Ramona Barry.

Each category winner will receive a cheque for $1000.