Textile Nomad with Marilyn Pipe



Long standing Denman College tutor Marilyn Pipe gave us an evening full of laughs when she visited the Branch on Monday 15 April 2019, to share stories about her textile journey. 

A very lively character, she recalled how professional house sitting gave her the opportunity to pursue her interest in embroidery and textiles – moving her machine and projects around with her – once setting up in a conservatory only to find the next, very wet, morning that the roof had blown off!  

An encounter with the owners of Rainbow Silks in Great Missenden led to her career as a teacher – while still studying for her City and Guilds – and eccentric solo trips to Germany and later Egypt followed where she had to carry all her materials with her - including 21 sachets of rather dodgy looking white power. Don’t worry it was simply powdered glue, but her story had everyone literally in stitches.

During 11 years with Rainbow Silks she even enjoyed a stint as the textile show van driver, but her main role was as resident tutor where she got to experiment with new products and techniques and it was obvious that pushing the boundaries of materials is her forte. 

She has now been working with Denman for over ten years but still spends much of her time on the road, speaking and teaching across the country. On one occasion she was asked by the WI to lecture, only to find it was to 500 people on two consecutive days and then teach 129 who had signed up for her course.

She brought many beautiful samples of her work with her and everyone enjoyed hearing about the results she has achieved with Tyvek, Kunin felts and velvets, rusting, silk ribbon work and seeing the stippling technique she has created using baking racks and even a chip pan basket! 

Her enthusiasm is boundless and her ‘paper bag but not as you know it’ really caught the imagination of members and there is now talk of her returning to us for a workshop on that in the future. 


The Branch is looking forward to welcoming Marilyn back in a couple of weeks to a workshop of Tiny Treasure journals and no doubt a good deal of laughter.


Costume Embroidery for Film and TV with Michele Carragher


Michele Carragher came to talk to us on Monday 18 March 2019. She is a hand embroiderer working in the costume department for film and TV.

She was encouraged to sew as a child, designing outfits for her dolls and later went on to study at the London College of Fashion.  Her love of nature and fantasy helped her to develop design skills and her course included millinery, knitting and embroidery.

She began her working life in textile conservation and learned to 'loose stitch' rather than use a frame, because of the fragility of the materials.

She started to work on costume design with friends, who were making an amateur film and then became a costume assistant to Mike O'Neill, who became her mentor. With him, she worked on many productions including Our Mutual Friend and Elizabeth I, starring Helen Mirren. Michele focused her skills on creating the decoration and embellishment for Helen Mirren's costumes.

When starting a new project, Michele reads the script first then starts discussing ideas. She researches designs by looking at historical paintings for inspiration. She will then source fabrics, beads and jewels to creatively interpret her research. From her sketches she creates sets of samples.


Michele has worked with Michele Clapton on the costumes for Game of Thrones, creating fantastical embroideries for many characters, including the collars for the Stark family. She often has to make 'doubles' of her work as sometimes embroideries can be damaged during filming and new costumes need to be created. She also has to face the fact that sometimes her embroideries do not appear in the finished film, due to editing.

Her other credits include Prince of Persia, Assassins Creed, Queen of the Desert, Ali and Nino, Peaky Blinders, Virtuoso and The Crown. She finds her work creatively rewarding and particularly enjoys the opportunity to produce 3D stump work.
Thank you Michele for a very enjoyable evening. It was fascinating to learn about your work and to see your wonderful creations.

Favourite Stitches, Different Threads with Fay Maxwell


We met up at Goodworth Clatford Village Club on Saturday 23 February 2019 for an inspiring workshop, given by Fay Maxwell. Fay had come to talk to us in January, so it was very exciting to try out some of her techniques.  Fay explained how she usually chooses 5 colours to work with, including shades of her chosen colours and works with stitches that most of us are familiar with.





She had brought lots of examples to show us and outlined the main stitches she uses - long and short, blanket, chain, back and cretan stitch as well as Indian edging. By the clever use of combining stitches together, wonderful designs can be created.










To make life easier for us, Fay had brought fabrics with outlines or block printing on them, to act as a guide.

We used a variety of threads, including wool, Perle and stranded cotton and spent the day stitching and chatting.

Four o'clock came round far too quickly but it was a wonderfully satisfying day, with everyone learning new techniques, putting combination stitches together and picking up useful tips for the future.


Thank you Fay, for a very enjoyable workshop, full of information and inspiration. It was a very thought provoking and stimulating day.


Project Linus UK


On Monday 21 February 2019 we enjoyed a really interesting and informative talk by Jane Sloggett who is the North Hants co-ordinator for the Project Linus UK charity. Jane was accompanied by Norma who is the Winchester co-ordinator.


“A quilt is a hug you can keep.
“It is the mission of Project Linus UK to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort through the donation of NEW, HOMEMADE, WASHABLE BLANKETS and quilts to babies, children and teenagers who are sick, disabled, disadvantaged or distressed.”
Project Linus UK produce quilts for babies, young children and teenagers who are experiencing problems in their lives. Those who are given quilts in hospital are allowed to take the quilt home, it is theirs to keep.  Project Linus UK even provide quilts for the siblings of the children in hospital.  Last year, in Southampton Hospital alone, 200 quilts per month were given out.


It is not only hospital where the quilts are distributed, for example Linus supply Naomi House and Basingstoke Young Carers as well as many other charities. However they don’t rest on their laurels but are continually looking for new outlets where there is a need.

Last year approximately 46,000 quilts were distributed.
Norma provided us with suggested dimensions for the quilts and our members then split into groups to discuss designs and patterns for quilts which we could produce to add to those in the Project Linus stock.







Thank you Jane and Norma for talking to us. It is wonderful project and something very close to our hearts. Let's hope we can contribute to this very worthwhile project.