Lekazia Turner, embroiderer from Jamaica, 2022

Allthreads Community

SECTION OF DRESS: Australian Landscape

24 members of the Allthreads community in Brisbane create an intricate and highly skilled embroidery showcasing the best of Australia’s flora and fauna.

Kerryn Lightfoot
Debbie Mercer
Rhonda Searle
Carmel O’Meara
Sophia Morris
Chloe Simpson
Margaret Forbes Sonia Parker
Jan Stevenson
Deborah Muir
Marilynne Wallace
Carol Walker
Judy Hughes
Sherrie O’Grady
Juliea Regan
Diane Manias
Linda Simpson
Claire Burford
Lyn Gough
Coralie Harris
Ann Saunders
Lyn Roberts
Julie Radke
Elizabeth Marshall

The following words are written by Kerryn Lightfoot, owner of Allthreads Embroidery:

The Red Dress project was a great opportunity for Allthreads Embroidery as it not only created a closer and united community, it also allowed people of all ages and all skill levels to join in, have some fun, and make the most of this incredible experience.

From the very first day, we all knew our piece of red dupion silk was going to turn into something special. Our understanding from the onset was that stories about each country were being told and shared through the beautiful art form of hand-embroidery. These stories bring together various cultures, each with their own identity and experiences. We worked to create a design that would tell the world about the beautiful array of flora and fauna Australia has to offer. The design was a collaborative of ideas brought together and drawn up at a planning meeting, but which evolved as the piece was stitched.

The design began with a draft sketch of Uluru (Ayers Rock). As we wanted to incorporate our indigenous history, we created a pattern of wavy shapes and lines typically found in aboriginal art. As Australia is known as the land of sun and surf, we included a large sun and waves, to which we added the gum leaves and blossoms (our National flower) and the Great Barrier Reef. In the outback of Australia kangaroos are prevalent and so some kangaroos were included. At this point we needed some balance on the right hand side of the design, hence the rusty windmill– a landmark that is found in most areas of outback Australia.

Ladies from all parts of ‘our embroidery world’ joined in the process. Those with more experience embroidered the dimensional pieces of the gum leaves and blossoms, and the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the members of our beginner embroidery class explored new threads and stitches to create the iconic Ayres Rock (Uluru) in the middle of the piece. Many others contributed to the various other elements of the embroidery that made up our contribution.

Complementing the theme of Australian imagery, we thought it best to use Australian threads on our panel. Most of the design was stitched in Gumnut Yarns Stars (a stranded silk) along with some overdyed Cottage Garden Threads stranded cotton.  

This project included a commission payable for the embroidered piece and as a community, we thought it was important to donate the funds to the Leukemia Foundation and the Ovarian and Breast Cancer Research as part of our annual charity donation.

We truly thank Kirstie Macleod for providing us with this amazing opportunity to give Australia a voice in this project. This project inspired our community to see the beauty of people coming together to create a lovely piece of embroidery that was individual to Australia. This experience tells the world a very unique story from all parts of the world and we feel privileged to have had a small part in that story.

To contact Kerryn regarding commissions, please write to: kerryn@allthreads.com.


A huge thank you to all who have given their time, energy, enthusiasm, advice, experience and financial support to the Red Dress project over the years.

In addition to the institutions below, funding has been gratefully received from a number of private donations and 441 individuals around the world via 2 Crowdfunding campaigns in 2020 and 2022.

Nothing expresses more eloquently the feelings I suspect we share about the importance of embroidery in our lives, and the support we derive from the friendships made through stitch, than Kirstie Macleod’s Red Dress.
Caroline Zoob, Editor of Stitchers Journal 2022
This beautiful object highlights the common ground between individuals, bringing together different identities and uniting people, we are honoured to contribute to it.
Tiny Kox, PACE President at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg 2023
The Red Dress has become an icon of the international textile world.
Suzanne Smith, Textile Society 2022
The Red Dress in its final incarnation, a magnificent, regal robe, symbolises the empowerment of women through the creation of something beautiful, something which began with bowed heads and tired fingers but also with faith and joy, an openness and willingness to be a part of something which they could not see at that time but in which they could believe had meaning and worth connecting with other women around the world.
Lady Alison Myners, Chair of the Royal Academy Trust 2020
The Red Dress is in some respects similar to Mail Art, the populist artistic movement centred on sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of the Fluxus movement in the 1950s and 60s – but on a larger scale – the journey of the work is part of its identity, process, and in fact function. A signifier of the temporal and physical nature of the process inherent in the creation of the piece. The surface of the dress layered with embroidery slowly transforming into a specific topographical map – completely particular to the work’s journey – and reflective of the burgeoning sculptural landscape of the object.
Paul Black, Artlyst 2015
It’s her (Kirstie’s) red silk Dupion bodice and voluminous skirt created for the Red Dress that fully demonstrates her commitment to embroidery and the immense respect for the international community of makers.
Denna Jones. Embroidery Magazine 2010
...the fact that they could embroider what they wanted and that it is appreciated has given them some strength, some confidence that I didn’t feel so strongly before they created the embroideries.
Nicole Esselan, Founder of Kisany Africa, supporting artisans in DR CONGO and RWANDA who created embroidery on the Red Dress in 2018
This is both an extraordinary work of collective art and profound and eloquent social commentary. It is also an example of how potent the Attire language is capable of becoming.
Attires Mind (Fashion Blogger) 2020
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