Amazing handmade items on display at Christchurch Mansion for limited time

Published25th January 2023

Until 17 March 2023, visitors to Christchurch Mansion will be able to see a colourful display of clothing and other items created by the Suffolk Refugee Support sewing group. 

The sewing group have created amazing things using donated fabrics, wool, thread and sewing machine, transforming these into items into a collection of dresses, hats, toys, and other items on display, with information alongside about what inspired the creation.

The group took their inspiration from Ipswich Museums’ own period costume collections, including handmade crochet Victorian toys, Tudor dresses, and celebration clothing from around the world.

Dressmaking, sewing and embroidery are skills learnt by young people in many of the countries where members of the group were born. Girls learn to embroider and sew from their mothers and grandmothers as inherited skills. Several members of the group can cut a dress from fabric with no pattern, simply by eye. The intricate embroidery on display is also created with no pattern!

Kandi from Afghanistan is a member of the sewing group and used to make dresses there before moving to Ipswich. She says: "The sewing group is very important for us - it helps to improve our sewing skills and to learn UK culture at the same time as improving our English. It gives us the opportunity to work with different people, learn about different cultures. and be creative."

Councillor Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Planning and Museums, adds: "The quality of the embroidery and skill of the seamstresses in the Suffolk Refugee Support sewing group is superb. It’s a privilege to be able to showcase their talents in Christchurch Mansion alongside existing displays for visitors to enjoy until 17 March.”

Rona from Afghanistan says the sewing group changed her life. "Every week I look forward to going to sewing group. The ladies who come together are from all around the world. We are far away from where we were born, but we feel like we are at home.”

The group also sells items made to raise funds to buy more sewing machines, find out more at:

Image credit – Ipswich Borough Council