Sedbergh Stitchers formed a group in 1993 with the objective of creating a canvas work panel depicting the landscape, historic buildings and social background of the area. The embroidery consists of two work panels, both of which are on permanent display in St Andrew’s Parish Church, Sedbergh.

The design was divided up into sections which were shared out between 15 stitchers to work on at home choosing their own colours and stitches. When the individual pieces were completed they were attached to the larger piece of canvas. The stitchers met once a week in one of their homes and used a quilting frame for the work. Eight people could sit round the frame, stitching, helping each other and catching up with the news.

Trees and vegetation were used as a background and as a way of disguising where the pieces were joined. The fells and sky, some of the figures such as the walker on New Bridge and the spinning lady in Railton Yard were worked directly on to the larger canvas. Appleton’s crewel wool on 10 holes/inch canvas was used for the pieces except for the Cloisters building which was worked on finer canvas. The coach and horses, the Romany caravan, some of the figures and flowers were worked in silk on fine canvas.

In 2004 the Stitchers decided to create a second panel. Each member chose a piece they wished to be included and a digital camera was used to take A4 photographs. The outlines were traced, resized on a photocopier and finally transferred onto canvas. The photographs were used as a reference and worked in the same way as the first panel.

Most of the important buildings in and around Sedbergh that were not on the first panel have been included in the second one. This panel also includes figures such as a the bandsmen, a fisherman, lady golfer and bowler which represent either past or present activities. In 2004 the ban on hunting was being discussed, so it was decided to include a huntsman with dogs to represent a traditional past activity.

A farmer riding a quad bike together with sheep being herded represents the farming community. A red squirrel is included in the hope that we can keep our population of reds in this area. A lady in a pony and trap records the fact that 100 years ago the usual way to get around was by using a horse and cart and not the motor car.

There is one unintended omission. When the stitchers started the second panel Book Town had not been formed and, although a logo had been worked there was no room left to include it on the panel. Unfortunately, there are no plans for a third panel, so it will have to go in the records. A record book of the Sedbergh Embroidery from 1993 to 2009 with background explanatory notes is held in the History room in the Sedbergh Information Centre.

Sedbergh Stitchers are grateful for the support of South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria County Council Neighbourhood Forum, Sedbergh History Society, Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust and Sedbergh Parish Council.

The Quaker Tapestry

If you enjoyed viewing the Sedbergh Tapestry you may also be interested in the Quaker Tapestry in Kendal which depicts the Quaker influence on the modern world through a series of over 40 embroidered panels.