Crafty ways for a Diamond day; It's nearly here! With just a week left to prepare for the party to end all parties, consumer editor EMMA McKINNEY explores the 'make do and mend' ways to get streets ahead.
WITH the Queen's Diamond Jubilee fast approaching, families across the Midlands are gearing up to stage street parties to celebrate.
And no street party would be complete without traditional bunting, say crafts experts, who hope the Jubilee could provide the perfect excuse to encourage consumers to tap in to their creative sides.
A revival of wartime's 'make do and mend' mentality hit Britain less than a decade ago, when there was a surge in the popularity of knitting.
Then the Women's Institute got an edgy makeover, with the help of London's cool Shoreditch Sisters, and suddenly the UK was gripped by a new generation of people excited about making jam.
Hen parties became 'make your own fascinator' workshops and there was the emergence of sewing cafes and even craft nights in pubs. Then along came the recession, which saw many cashstrapped people making their own clothes, sparking a staggering rise in the British sales of sewing machines - up 500 per cent in the past year alone.
The haberdashery department at John Lewis in Solihull's Touchwood shopping centre has been feeling the benefit of the surge in crafting.
"We even sell sewing machines for young children now," says partner Shenaz Jodiyawallah. "I think sewing is a skill that was dying out, but now people want to go back to basics and learn how to make things for themselves.
"I think people have realised that potentially the next generation would have no idea how to sew on a button if they didn't do anything about it. We are finding people of all ages coming to us now wanting to learn how to sew, knit or crochet." Shenaz says you don't have to be an expert to produce your own craft work. "I think people would be shocked to discover how easy it is to make bunting," she says. "You can be a complete novice and produce something beautiful, it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. "You don't even have to sew anything, you can simply cut out triangles and use fabric glue to put ribbon across the top to form the bunting."
The haberdashery team are urging customers to visit the store to pick up top tips on how to make bunting, or any other handmade craft - including dressmaking; clothes alterations or curtain design. John Lewis is not alone - shops, businesses and organisations across the region are holding workshops and events to help people add their own creative touch to both the Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics. Youngsters can learn new skills at Edgbaston's Midlands Arts Centre, which is offering a Brilliant Bunting workshop for children aged six to 12 on June 3 from 1pm until 3pm. Meanwhile, the Pavilions shopping mall, in Birmingham city centre's High Street, is staging knitting workshops for beginners to mark the Olympics.
All work produced at the workshops will be used to create what has been dubbed as a "knit graffiti" installation, which will cover six pillars outside Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from July to September. The project, called K2TOG - Knit 2 Together, is aimed at welcoming the Jamaican and American Olympic teams, which are basing their training camps in Birmingham. The brainchild of textile artist Sara Fowles, of Kings Heath craft group Stitches and Hos, it will see novice knitters using 1,300 balls of wool to create the installation, which has won the Inspire Mark from the London 2012 Inspire programme. "We found out that the Jamaican and American teams were going to be using Birmingham as their base before the Olympics and I thought it would be really great to have a welcome for them," says Sara.
"The project will be knitted using six colours: red, blue, white, yellow, green and black, which come from the American and Jamaican national flags, and they are the same colours used in the Olympics rings logo. "Whether people can currently knit or not, we would love to see them come to the Pavilions and be part of a spectacular visual installation." The workshops are at the Pavilions every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 12pm until 6pm and every Sunday from 12pm until 5pm until Friday, July 27.For more information visit www.pavilionsshopping . com, knit2together.tumblr. com or www. www.stitchesandhos. co.uk
Getting streets ahead: Mail consumer editor Emma McKinney shows off a bunting with Shenaz Jodiyawalla, from the John Lewis Haberdashery Department in Solihull.