NI Big Sock launch

On 2 March Carál Ní Chuilín, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, launched the NI Big Sock campaign at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. NI Big Sock is a community-based project supported by Voluntary Art Ireland and the #artsNI group which aims to beat the current Guinness World Record for the largest patchwork Christmas stocking by December 2016.

Dr Pamela Emerson, a keen upcycler of scrap fabrics, devised this creative effort as a way of highlighting sewing as a valuable skill and celebrating Northern Irish tradition of linen production and shirt making. The project also aims to increase the engagement of local communities in creative activities and help Northern Ireland become a creative capital for Europe by 2030.

Dr Emerson has had a lifelong passion for stitching and as well as being a trained teacher has had a professional career in museums and research. Her ambition is to combine her love of crafts and academic research by offering informal craft skills workshops and lectures and talks on local social history.

To complete the Big Sock challenge, people, voluntary and community groups and businesses of Northern Ireland are asked to contribute materials to the project such as fabric (preferably red and green), old calendars, cards and other stiff paper to make templates and sewing accessories.
Volunteers are key to the success of NI Big Sock and people are needed not only for sewing and making the paper templates but also for spreading the word about the project using #lovetoSEW on social media. Volunteers can also act as collection points for materials across NI, contributing the space to join the sections together towards the end of the year and handcrafting small gifts for the completed stocking.

During the campaign launch, Carál Ní Chuilín, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, said:

I am delighted to launch the Big Sock campaign today at Parliament Buildings. Sewing is a fun past-time and also shows great skill and tradition here in the north.

The Big Sock Campaign is a fantastic project and I would encourage everyone to get behind it to help us achieve the Guinness World Record and on our journey towards a creative capital of Europe in 2030.

Dr Pamela Enderson said:

Northern Ireland is famed for its linen production and shirt making, yet today children leave school without ever learning how to sew. NI Big Sock aims to put sewing centre stage again and bring local communities closer together by giving them a common purpose – breaking a world record! The response to NI Big Sock has been overwhelmingly positive so far but we still need more people so why not get involved in something BIG this year and help NI become a more creative place?

Carál Ní Chuilín at NI Big Sock launch

Full list of ways in which people can get involved:

  • To donate fabric (preferably red and green) either from scraps from sewing projects, sample books or items such as duvet covers, pillow cases, shirts etc., that are suitable weight for hand sewing.
  • To donate calendars, old cards, flyers or other stiff paper (90gms+) that would otherwise go in the recycling bin as this can be used for making paper templates.
  • To donate sewing accessories such as needles, scissors and thread for use at public events (to encourage passers-by to make a hexagon to add to the project).
  • To act as collection points (in various places around NI) so as people can leave material donations.
  • People to cut out the fabric hexagons – draw around a template and cut out. Templates will be provided.
  • People to hand-sew the fabric on to the paper templates – folding and tacking are the only skills required!
  • People to hand-sew the hexagons together using whip stitch.
  • Help in publicising this record breaking effort – producing flyers, taking photographs, articles and features in the media or generating interest via social networks.
  • Invitations to feature the patchwork sections at community events – e.g. fetes, exhibitions, conferences, where people could spend a few minutes cutting out or sewing a hexagon and thus contribute to the project.
  • Workspace to join the various sections together (towards the end of the year).
  • Small hand-crafted gifts to put into the completed stocking.

For the latest information on the project, see the NI Big Sock Facebook page.