Updated: Feb 3
The kneelers (also called hassocks) were no longer being used. Yet they had taken huge amounts of work to hand make years ago and so lots of people wanted to keep them. Many were damaged by moths or were worn. There were loads and loads of them. Quite a lot were kept to go on the few pews that were left in the church, but that still left quite a lot.
The vicar asked Made In Molesey if we could do something with them. At first we thought a rug might be a good idea, but after looking at them we thought that it would be difficult to keep clean, not that comfortable and that it probably wasn't a good idea to walk all over them. We had not long finished the butterfly project (another piece of art we made with hundreds of others that is hanging in St Mary's) and we were thinking about the next wall, so a wall hanging was suggested. We thought there might be too many, but we decided we could always make another one if there were that many left over. There was a lot of discussion about what we could do with the stuffing and insides. We took one apart and had a look and sadly it wasn't really reusable. They did come apart okay though, and they didn't fray as badly as we thought they would.
We began by going through and removing all the badly moth eaten ones. At one of our regular Friday night MIMs a few of the MIM gang laid them out and worked out a pattern that worked and looked good.
Everyone had their favourites and a lot of discussion went on about who had made them and the work and what the meaning of each one was. We measured the wall of course and worked out how many would fit. We settled on a pattern and photos were taken. The cushions were split up and everyone took a few home to unpick and bring back the next month. We kept a few spares as back up in case we damaged any or it didn't work.
Then they needed washing. They were washed in a bath in batches using only fabric conditioner. The water looked like this.
They were hung out to dry.
A couple of evenings were spent doing test joins, to see how they would sew. Not everyone could get that thickness through their sewing machine. Originally the thought was to stitch them directly together, to somehow remove the sides, without causing it to fray, add a backing and stitch them together like patchwork. It was obvious now that they were all different sizes. Also, they stretched easily. They did want to fray and the sides didn't help. One of the tests was done with calico sashing (sashing is strips of material between). The creamy coloured calico matched the walls of the church and it framed them nicely and made them look like they were suspended. Plus it meant we could hide where some were smaller than others and uneven.
Several metres of calico were purchased. Thankfully this is cheap as we didn't want to be spending loads of money on upcycling something. Everyone donated their thread and their time and their machines for free. At the end we also had to buy a thick oak dowel to hang it on which costs about £15. They were the only expenses.
By this time it was autumn. Prime crafting season was coming. Everyone booked to come
together one Saturday in November to start sewing them together. A plan had been made showing where the strips of calico were going to go, so we were ready to go.
The calico strips were cut which is not easy as they need to be straight and they are long..
The kneeler tops were measured and trimmed to size.
The kneelers and calico were all ironed.
The horizontal strips were assembled and the top two were sewn together.
Everything stopped for Christmas, they were bagged up and stored for the new year. Then the team came together again for a Saturday in January for the final push to finish.
The tabs were added. The calico was added round the edge (This is before it is sewn to the tab)
Everything except the edge sashing was done and we had the first reveal.
Finally it was hung on the pole ready to go on the wall of the St Mary's Church. Finished Saturday 25th January 2020.
A huge well done to the whole Made In Molesey team. We did a great job together, from initial discussion and planning through to final finish. It was a pleasure to work with you. I hope you enjoy seeing it on the walls every month on our Friday evening and know you payed a part in this little bit of crafting history. It was many, many years in the making and involved many pairs of hands. The result is stunning.
You can pop in to see it any Sunday morning (plus the church is open lots of other times). You can come between services 10.00-10.30am on Sunday mornings and see it. We even have free tea and coffee and pastries if you want to get one while you look. It is up in the main body of the church building, go through the entrance foyer and it is on the wall half way down on the left.