RepositoryFalmouth University (GB 3241)
Ref NoFCP13
Extent77 volumes, 8 boxes, 3 O/S Boxes, 2 O/S Items
DescriptionThe Hazel Sims Collection comprises of over 60 books, 7 bound volumes of journals and 21 individual journals, booklets and leaflets on or relating to embroidery and sewing. Over 57 of the books have coverings and bindings created by Sims using fabrics, wallpaper and wrapping paper; many of these reflect the period in which the titles were produced or acquired. Those covered in fabric are often further embellished with elaborate examples of hand and machine embroidery with the texts further punctuated by inserts between the pages or concealed within the structure of the covers taking the form of pattern transfers, postcards, pattern pieces, letters, stitch samples and magazine clippings.

Also included in the Collection is a portfolio of embroidery with an embellished cover, incorporating applique, hand embroidery and shisha mirror work. The portfolio contains both samples and finished examples of embroidery by Sims including tablemats embellished with abstract stitched shapes, Indian style hand embroidered samples with shisha mirror and hand beading work along with a handstitched sampler in the form of a table runner decorated with images of buildings and samples of applique. There are also a number of loose sketches, stitch diagrams and other ephemera within this portfolio.

Other examples of Sims's textile work within the Collection include:

- A small handmade rag doll wearing a cream lace dress embellished with metallic thread
- A sample of hexagonal patchwork
- Samples of hand and machine embroidery and applique some mounted as cards
- 6 embroidered bags and pouches
- 2 composite waistcoats decorated with applique and embroidery
- 3 large wall hangings.

Further supplementary material includes:
- A postcard album
- A selection of photographs depicting her time as a nurse
- Photographs showing examples of her sewing including ecclesiastical robes stitched by Sims (accompanied by handwritten notes and samples of the fabric and thread used)
- A small spiral bound sketchbook containing sketches and watercolours which include a number of images of Dartmoor
- Correspondence
- A series of diaries covering the period 1976-1992.
Admin HistoryHazel M Sims (nee Brannan) (Dec 1921 - 2016) was born in Hampstead. Sims began stitching at the age of 4½ when she watched her Aunt embroidering and pestered her to let her have a go. Her Aunt gave her a drawstring bag containing a tangle of coloured threads which needed to be sorted - something that she would keep throughout her life - and so began a life-long passion for stitching. At the age of five she was sent to the Holy Trinity Primary School in Finchley Road, which was run by the London County Council who had a strong bias toward Arts & Crafts which included embroidery and fabric collage. By the age of nine when her family had moved to Harrow, Sims was already producing endless tablecloths and other embroidered items using traced patterns in her spare time. Her time spent in Secondary convent school education however, was less productive with needlework focused largely on dressmaking, with embroidery only a Saturday morning activity.

In 1943 Sims began training as a nurse working 12hr days/nights with one day off a week but still continued to embroider when she had the time. Shortly after this she married Gordon Sims in June 1945. It was around this time that Sims discovered the Needlework Development Scheme (NDS) a collaborative project between art and design education and the textile industry. After attending an exhibition at the Tea Centre at the Haymarket Sims was inspired to start experimenting with fabrics and stitches and began to design her own work. She joined the Embroiderers' Guild after seeing an exhibition and although there was no local branch for her to join she was an active member, Sims attended events held at Queen Anne Street and 73 Wimpole Street, took the Guild's magazine on regular basis, utilised the Guild's embroidery transfers and borrowed their project boxes. 1973 saw Lynette De Denne found a Branch of the Guild in Harrow, which Sims promptly joined and of which she remained a member of until she moved to St Mawes in Cornwall in 1987.

Sims retired from nursing in September 1977 and took on a mass of craft and embroidery projects. She attended classes at the Stanhope Institute in Camden taught by Julia Caprara (who later founded the Opus School of Textile Arts), Beryl Dean (who was renowned for her ecclesiastical embroidery) and Joy Clucas (who taught dress design and dressmaking and went on to teach and publish material on machine embroidery). For a time Sims also joined Constance Howard's 'New Embroidery Group' which met fortnightly at Southwark Cathedral. Sims went on to exhibit a piece of ecclesiastical dress titled 'Festival Cope' at The Embroiderers Guild 1976 exhibition of members held at The Commonwealth Art Gallery.

On her move to Cornwall in July 1987 Sims believed she had moved to an embroidery desert, but quickly discovered the West Country Embroiderers group through an exhibition at Truro Museum which she joined shortly after. Sims also re-connected with the Embroiderers' Guild attending local branch meetings in Truro.

Sims's passion for sewing and embroidery is shown clearly in the books on the subject which she collected throughout her life and reflects both a personal and wider evolution of techniques and trends in embroidery over the years. Sims's personal journey is shown in the numerous trial samples and notes that annotate this collection. Items range from historical texts showing work and techniques from previous centuries, to texts offering the opportunity to enhance practical stitching skills with the newest techniques and apply them to interior, fashion and art based projects. Sims's diaries often detail the discovery of these books through browsing in junk shops, on trips to the V&A or as gifts with Sims often commenting on their qualities and significance to her. Her continued connection with the Embroiderers' Guild can also be seen in the many books and magazines produced by the Guild in the Collection. Similarly, her connection with her former tutor and later friend Beryl Dean is shown in personally inscribed books and correspondence in the Collection.

Following a long period of ill health Hazel Sims died in 2016.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThese records are available for access, except for those containing personal information covered by Data Protection legislation.
ArrangementThere was no obvious arrangement for this collection prior to deposit. An arrangement based on format and biography has been given to these records with a chronological order used for materials within larger sections or series.
Finding_AidsFull box lists available in accession file.
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