Taking a shape from an old doodle!

Over the years I had thought about changing my career path and I always knew I wanted it to be in the creative world, and having relatives on both sides of the family (on the Singaporean and Swiss side) who are dressmakers meant I was surrounded by a world of fabric and stitch from an early age which I absolutely loved.

I had done various classes over the years and learnt to make my own clothes, done pattern cutting and lace making etc., but it wasn’t until after I had taken a couple of day classes at the Royal School of Needlework and I discovered the Future Tutors Programme that it became clear.  And that is when my embroidery journey really started.

I am now in the third and final year of this programme and I have discovered with embroidery that I like to experiment.  I have learnt many traditional techniques and once I have understood how a stitch works – I want to see how I can turn that around and use it in a new way.  I have also been playing with how to design a piece, for example I have experimented with painting fabrics and allowing that to tell me how a piece turns out.  I have also been trying out a process where I take an old doodle and pick a shape from the many lines that are there, and the possibilities are endless, and this becomes my design.

This is why I decided to stitch my golden doodle on the red dress.  I wanted it to be unique and elegant and I thought the gold would show up well.

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful collaborative piece.

Contact: Instagram: @sonias_stitching


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.

The Red Dress is one of the most power pieces of clothing I have ever seen
Angelica Colleluci, Head of Design & Productions at Ozwald Boateng
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
I can't remember when they embroidered that piece of silk (2018?) but I feel that something has changed since. 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. Last year, I sent them a drawing and asked them to “interpretate" it the way they wanted; again it came back with a lot of emotions, another beautiful story. Thank you for giving them this opportunity
Nicole Esselan, Founder of Kisany Africa (supporting artisans in DR CONGO and RWANDA)
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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