Meet the Belles!

Blog post by Johanna Wilson, Social Media Officer

Goodbye 2016! It’s January and many of us have set new resolutions for what we want to achieve this year and are looking to try something a little bit different. It’s also the beginning of the Women’s Institute membership year, so what better than a skills swap, a chance to try something new and find out a bit more about the Borough Belles? It was great to see so many new faces coming along to find out more, as well as long-standing Belles!


January is also an exciting time for WI members as it’s the month where everyone gets a chance to vote on the new shortlisted resolutions. This process with Women’s Institute groups around the country taking part will decide which resolutions will get voted on by members at the Annual Meeting in June, and which issues we will be campaigning on and taking part in next year. The shortlisted resolutions are:

  • Alleviating loneliness
  • FGM: More awareness for more action
  • Equal access for all who need specialised maternal mental health services
  • Provision of appropriate welfare and safe spaces for women & children in refugee camps
  • Supporting women’s refuges
  • Plastic soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our oceans

Every member new and old received their voting slip, and we’ll be sharing more details of the results soon!

Once we’d had our introductions, everyone got stuck in, trying their hand at a few new skills…


Calligraphy (sort of) 

At Shawn’s table, we were greeted with sheets of elegant looping letters and paper hearts. Shawn did a calligraphy course before she got married, sure that her new skill would be used for everything… and promptly realised that while calligraphy is beautiful, fake calligraphy is quick (and you don’t get calligraphy ink everywhere). Try practicing words in a calligraphy style using sheets as a reference point. In calligraphy, the line is thicker on the down stroke, so to create the look, draw another line to parallel to the one you want to thicken, and then colour it it. Perfect!

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Corsage Making

For those looking for a handmade accessory, Alison talked us through making our own corsages. There were lots of intense faces as we stitched, pulled and rolled to create beautiful brooches. If you want to have a go at making your own, you can download a guide here.

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We have some keen crafters at Borough Belles, and Christel showed us her crocheting skills. It was easy to get lost with the stitching and looping, but Christel was on hand to help correct those who’d gone a bit awry. Although there sadly wasn’t enough time on the night to show us how to make a crocheted beanie, instructions can be found here!

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Napkin Folding

For those who were looking for something that can be done quickly but that looks great, Katie’s skill was napkin folding. She went through a few folds that while simple, looked wonderful on the table. It was good fun, although apparently becomes less so when you have to do it for big events!

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And last (but not least), on a table packed with a rainbow assortment of paper, Amelia talked us through origami. In keeping with our friendly mascot, she showed us how to make cute origami bees in minutes. She also asked us to make some strange shapes out of paper to go towards an electra, which she then brought together after the meeting – it looks fantastic!

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After a busy night of sewing, folding, shaping, crocheting, writing and chatting, we all went home with a new skill and something we’d done ourselves – a great start to 2017!