One Millie, All Nations
We are based in Paisley - 'the town that thread built', so it was befitting that for the Refugee Festival Scotland 2022, in partnership with Journeys in Design: Our Linen Stories, Sewing2gether All Nations reflected on the rich textile heritage of Scotland and that of New Scots, with an exhibition of hand sewn ‘Millie dolls*’ representing textile workers from all over the world, and the legacy of grandmothers, mothers and sisters who have passed their sewing skills down from generation to generation.
We held a series of workshops to sew and personalise the dolls, created using the linen tea towel pattern designed by illustrator Sue Shields. We gathered stories from across the globe of our memories of family and homelands, and the creative traditions we still hold dear to our hearts. Our Exhibition of over 30 completed dolls was hosted in Paisley Central Library. There were also Talk and Walk events associated with this project; 'Creative Journeys For New Scots' talk and 'Linen Routes Through Paisley' walk with The Urban Historian.
We were filmed for a short report on Reporting Scotland 🎥 and the story appeared on BBC News online "Sewing group gave refugee a voice after 10 years in the UK". We also had a full two page spread in the Paisley Daily Express, with a summary online.
*Linen mill workers – ‘Millies’ – formed the backbone of the first industry to emerge from Scotland and Ireland and much of Europe: hard-working, multi-tasking and super-skilled. At the peak of linen trading in the early 20th century, tens of thousands of women were employed to support the economy of a continent. Though a tiny fraction of jobs persist, many of us have a Linen Millie amongst our families or those of friends. (Our Linen Stories)