Lekazia Turner, embroiderer from Jamaica, 2022

2 Sister Stitch artisans supported by Manchester Aid for Kosovo, Kosovo

KOSOVO | 2019

SECTION OF DRESS: Birds of Peace

A touching account of surviving a war

Sister Stitch a group of female refugees who were among the hundreds of thousands who fled the country during the armed conflict in 1998-99. Now returned to their hometown of Podujevë these women are rebuilding their lives with the help of embroidery. The group is supported by MaK (Manchester Aid to Kosovo) who do huge amounts of valuable work for those effected by the crisis in the Balkans. With a remit to relieve poverty, sickness & distress, it works for recovery through education, justice, human rights, art, music, drama, sport and medical aid.

Feride and Fatime Hallili of Sister Stitch created a beautiful panel in white thread showing birds which symbolise migration, and the fact that all the women had to flee for their lives during the 1990’s. They have all lost friends and family members in the war. Thankfully they now feel much more positive about their lives, most now have young families and a much brighter future.

Erina Sheholli, Sister Stitch Co-ordinator in Kosovo, writes:

“I am going to write a little bit about this amazing project we somehow contributed.  

As a coordinator, I have seen the ladies of our group, "Sister Stitch", firstly working on some birds  then wall hangings and now working a piece for this amazing dress. Being part of this dress means a lot to these ladies as they have a story to tell, they can embroider, and they are good at it. They have not earned money for any other work in Kosova apart from their contribution to Sister Stitch as their lives were greatly affected by war. Also, what makes it even more special and powerful is that many different countries worked on this dress. And we were a part of it too. Kosovo is a small country with a big history, and we are more than proud to be part of this amazing and beautiful dress. I hope that the message of those birds will spread all over the world. We deserve to live free as birds.”

Fatime Halili, one of the artisan’s writes:

“I am very pleased for being part of this big project where lots of other countries took part. It is a great feeling knowing that we contributed on a dress where ladies from different countries worked. I would like to thank Pam and Erina for choosing us to be part of this project. I am grateful.”

The poem inscribed inside the 4 white doves:

Better one winter in your own country than 100 springs away.
The greatest wealth is to live content with little.
Be nice everyone - we live in peace now.
Love all, trust some and hate none.
A winter is a winter. Peace has come - love yourself first

Sister Stitch 2018

To contact sister stitch, please write to Pam Dawes: pamdawes@btinternet.com

To view the other Kosovar artisans, please see Kosovo 2021, also in the Artisans section of the website.


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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