Sarah Maddison – Stitching my way through life

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Sarah Maddison – Stitching my way through life

To our amusement, Sarah started her talk by explaining how she chose the unusual name for her website and facebook page, “SixtyFourpackingcases”.   She then showed us photos of her two aunts and her mum all of whom taught and encouraged her to learn to stitch from an early age.  She made her first dress at the age of 11 and delighted us all by showing a Style pattern which several of us recognised.  Living in East Anglia at the time, Sarah enrolled on a City & Guild course at Suffolk College in Ipswich and her unfulfilled dream was to create theatrical costumes.

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As an Army wife, she travelled to various countries and a lot of the inspiration for her work came from her surroundings at the time.  Sarah was unable to work when she moved to Brunei, so for a year she decided to stitch and often her creations were inspired by the jungle.  Returning to Suffolk she got together with a group of friends and organised an exhibition.  The inspiration for Sarah’s work came from the legend of St Edmund and a sculpture by Elizabeth Frink. 

Military inspired work

Another piece that we were shown was based on a great uncle who died at the Battle of the Somme aged 20 and in researching this topic she discovered 35 soldiers who were killed more recently in Afghanistan at the age of 23.  The work is entitled 35@23.

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Sarah then went on to talk about the general things that inspire her work and included ancient landscapes like Stonehenge, Avebury, Glastonbury and the iron age fort at Danebury in Hampshire.  The moon, hares, crows and poppies also featured  in her work along with supporting text or poems.  In 2022 Sarah worked with a group to create an exhibition about Danebury Iron Age Fort Past and Present and this was displayed in the museum at Andover.

In talking about how to start a project, Sarah mentioned how she chooses between 2D and 3D and in planning a work about different Borneo tribes, she researched the wildlife, jewellery, tattoos and clothes worn by the people.  She made us laugh when she said, if it doesn’t go to plan – chop it up.  Great advice!

Bringing her talk to a close Sarah mentioned she now stitches with a group of seven other artists and they call themselves The Alchemist’s Needle. Researching their website I found a couple of names that I recognised – Alison Hulme  and Anne Hellyer who have both visited our group in the past.

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In addition to the presentation Sarah brought along a wonderful selection of her work together with samples of purses and bags which she offers as workshops.  There were also a number of beautiful pieces of jewellery based on Sarah’s work and cards for members to buy.  A lot of her work is done as commissions and you can find her website details below.

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Report by Ros

Photos by Ros with permission from Sarah

Sarah’s website:

Sarah’s Facebook page:

Sarah’s Etsy page:

The Alchemist’s Needle:

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