Stitches: Our Textile Traditions

Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

“Stitches: Our Textile Traditions”, is the latest exhibit in the Trillium Gallery, located in the Spriet Family Visitor Centre here at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. The purpose of this special exhibit is to explore and present the rich tapestry of textile arts that exist in our community. Beautiful pieces loaned from local individuals are showcased alongside selections from the Fanshawe Pioneer Village permanent collection to demonstrate the richness and diversity of textile arts across history and cultures. Take, for instance, the three crocheted doilies in the photo below. From Ethiopia, Portugal and early 20th century London, all pieces employ the same technique and star pattern.

three doilies

The items displayed below also illustrate how textile themes and motifs carry across history and cultures. These three crocheted decorative coverings all feature flower motifs. Two from the Fanshawe Pioneer Village Collection (lower left) include daisy-like embellishments, while the one made in Bhutan (rear left), depicts a flower resembling a rhododendron, of which the country has over 46 species. The two “Good Luck” textile pieces demonstrate how sentiments and traditions carry over time and space. The decorative stitched vase ( rear right), was a parting gift for Mangali Gurung from her daughter when she left Bhutan for her new home in Canada three years ago.

colourful textiles

We are also honoured to showcase the aprons and market bags created by the talented women of “World Tailors”. A social enterprise that empowers refugee and immigrant women from far and wide, the group provides a unique opportunity for them to acquire valuable life skills, improve their English, and build supportive friendships.

World Tailors

Another part of the exhibit features some beautiful Indian saris which belonged to Mrs. Usha R. Sainani. A pioneering woman in her own right, Mrs. Sainani was the first woman engineer in India and was fiercely proud of her heritage. She enjoyed a successful career with Hydro Quebec, and went on to establish her own Geotechnical Consulting firm, working on such important projects as the James Bay Hydroelectric Project.


The exhibition runs until September 30, 2016, and includes textiles from the United Kingdom, Colombia, United States, Portugal, India, Netherlands, Italy, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and Ethiopia. The gallery is open Tuesday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is by donation, or included with the regular gate fee.