Traffic stopping Pride design
Tasha Middleton of Sew Swansea was mega-busy in the run-up to Pride Cymru. Her task, to design a dress with a message for the parade, held at the end of August in Cardiff. Super stitcher, Tasha worked on the project jointly with Mr Flag, Swansea’s flag manufacturers.
According to Tasha,
The dress was inspired by the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress.”
The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress according to the project’s website, “was a project to raise attention to the issue that homosexuality is still illegal in many countries. The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress produced for Euro Pride 2016, is made of the 75 national flags under a bodice made of the Amsterdam city flag. The idea was to underline the importance of Amsterdam remaining open to LGBT+ refugees who are persecuted in their country because of who they are or whom they love.”
For centuries, Amsterdam has been a shelter city for people in other places; within the Netherlands, Europe, or the other countries in the world where people were not safe for either the ideas they had or the person they were.
“The dress also recognised that Amsterdam as a safe haven for LGBT+ and refugees, from the 75 countries represented in flags on the dress, is not self-evident and needs to be both cultivated and maintained. The dress helps encourage the people of that city to remain aware of this goal and to be committed to developing an atmosphere of openness and inclusiveness. The project organisers make the point that this goal applies to communities around the world and so the dress travels to raise this awareness elsewhere around the globe.”
Pro LGBT+ Dress design for Pride Cymru
Tasha said of the Pride Cymru project,
I was contacted by Charles Ashburner of Mr Flag, Swansea’s oldest flag manufacturers, who had been approached by John Fox of Pride Cymru looking for someone to make them a dress, from flags, for the Pride parade.”
John and the Pride Cymru parade team wanted a pro-LGBT+ version made for Pride Cymru 2017. Charles very kindly offered to donate the flags and recommended Sew Swansea to design and produce the dress.”
The flags represent the countries which are pro LGBT+ and are ending discrimination against LGBT+ people.
The parade team wanted something big and dramatic and I think that’s what I gave them. With a list of 30 pro-LGBT countries supplied by Pride Cymru, Mr. Flag provided me with all the flags I needed plus a Welsh Flag that John and I thought should have ‘pride’ of place.”
Design of the dress
The dress size is actually made up of a separate bodice with side zip and popper fastenings for ease of wearing and a huge gathered waist skirt with a 3m train that all sits on a lightweight cage skirt underneath to give the whole thing body and shape.”
The design on the big day
On the day of Pride, I met with John and Fanny Fierce and using Cardiff Pulse as a dressing room fitted Fanny in time for the parade.”
It was an amazing experience and as I walked alongside Fanny, through the crowd for the entire length of the parade I could hear all the wonderful comments being made about the dress. It was really well received with people stopping for photos and to tell Fanny how incredible she looked – at one point the BBC also stopped her for an interview!”
I’ll be sewing again for Pride next year, as John has already asked me to be involved again so you’ll have to wait and see what we come up with for 2018!”
Sew Swansea – workshops and support in the community
The artist/maker, Tasha Middleton runs Sew Swansea from premises in Orchard St. in Swansea. She brings affordable fun and relaxed textile classes, courses, and workshops to as many people as she can. Tasha has always been keen to support vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community. She therefore, runs workshops for groups and organisations out in the community.
What next for Tasha and Sew Swansea?
As for the now, I have a huge range of sewing and crochet classes planned for the next few months, including beginners workshops in machine sewing, crochet, hand embroidery and overlocker use. I’ll also be holding free workshops as part of Swansea Fun Palace on 8th October in either crochet or hand embroidery – possibly both! (While these sessions will be free, participants will need basics of crochet and hand embroidery to be able to take part)”
Pride Cymru is a charity with a remit to work for the promotion and elimination of discrimination. This can includes on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, and ability. The charity works towards this through the annual celebration of equality and diversity at Pride Cymru. The charity also works within the LGBT+ community in Wales and by co-production, engagement and partnering with organisations. They have a programme of projects aimed at supporting specifically the LGBT+ community. They also aim to develop links with the wider community. Their intention is to increase understanding and respect for all which will lead to a reduction in hate crime.
Sew Swansea is at Units 11, 12 and 34a Orchard Street Swansea. Visit the website at Sew Swansea. Mr Flag website is here. Pride Cymru is a charity and is involved in projects throughout the year not just over the Pride weekend: Pride Cymru.
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