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Our History...

Some of the Federation's HISTORIC TEXTILES that mark important milestones.


Minutes from Beattock Institute

"A Committee Meeting was held in Broomlands on Wednesday evening.  Mrs Bertram Smith presiding.  It was decided that a committee be elected at next general meeting on 19th May to carry through the arrangements for Drumlanrig Rally.

A circular letter about the Rally was then produced and it was decided after some discussion that Beattock Institute enter a patchwork quilt as community work, each member getting a square of linen to work their initials or name on.   Miss Jardine was elected convener of this, and Miss Burtis to help her.  A sample of what the squares are to be like will be shown at the next general meeting."

The committee thought that it would be a good plan to raffle a quilt after it had been exhibited and give the proceeds to Sir William Younger towards the very discerning cause, the recreation fund of Lochmaben Sanatorium as Sir William Younger has shown a very keen interest all along in the Institute. It is not recorded who won it.


In 1986 when Jane Stevenson was President, she was contacted by a lady who bought and sold linens to say she had this quilt, which she would sell back to us as it obviously belonged in Beattock.    This was put to the members and it was decided to buy it, so for £60 we got it back. Since then we have had it on show at significant birthdays like our 90th in March 2011 and again in 2016 for Beattock’s 95th year


Beattock quilt 1.jpg
Beattock quilt 2.jpg
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Map of the Federation including names and locations of Institutes. The Banner was embroidered in 1953 by Mrs Jennie McMillan, Federation President 1959-1965.

The first Institute was Dalton, founded in 1919 and closed in 1992.  The longest surviving Institute is St Mungo founded in 1920.  The youngest Institute is Georgetown founded in 1982.


This wonderful banner was created for a competition and is a hand crafted banner of our national SWI song "Home and Country" which was song at meetings to the tune of "Scots Wha Hae"

Kirkmahoe song banner.jpg
70th anniversary banner made by Jannie H


Made by Jenny Hyslop of Mouswald Institute


Made for the SWI Centenary Garden Party in 2017 which the Federation celebrated at Comlongon Castle. Each Institute's name is embroidered on the pennants.

Graham Edwards Photos of the event can be viewed here

Bunting made for centenary garden party.


Excerpt: May 2016 SWI FACEBOOK PAGE

We've had an interesting request for help from Susan Brewer an author and collector of dolls, who has added to her collection with a small doll exquisitely dressed in superb detail by members of Dumfriesshire SWRI back in the early 1950s.
It is named the Festival of Britain doll, Dumfriesshire Bondager doll, and details on its box suggests there may have been similar dolls from other regions.
Susan says: " I see hundreds of costume dolls, but I am so impressed with the detailing in this doll - her bonnet, for instance, has been finely wired a couple of times at the peak as well as at the back to keep it in shape - and all the stitching etc is so neat. I bought this lovely doll recently and would love to find out about her history and why the SWI were making dolls for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Thank you for all your help.”


Institutes were asked to look in their minutes


Excerpt from Kirkmahoe minutes of 1951 - 13th March at a committee

meeting, discussion took place as to the proper method of dressing the dolls which had been issued by the Federation and 9 members volunteered to undertake this.


8th October at a monthly meeting - the Federation delegate, Mrs Bamphylde read her short report on the last meeting. The subject was the Bondager dolls and it was agreed to purchase 4 at the cost of £2. The money to be taken from the funds. The dolls to be sent to sick children in hospital."

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Federation Shows Results 2003 - 2018

Federation Shows Reports 2003 - 2018



Golf Competition Results 1975-2020



Short Mat Bowling Competition Results 1992-2020

Short mat bowling shield.jpg


The Centenary Keepsake is made up of drawings from each Institute depicting their Institute, with a map of Dumfriesshire in the centre, our Centenary logo, and with all institutes marked.

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This is the South West section of the centenary quilt with all our quilted squares attached to it. There are 3 additional banners.


"SATELLITES" by Shirley McKean

Satellites is a goldwork, embroidered picture by the late Shirley McKeand, Evelyn Baxter Scholar and member of Collin SWI. The second picture shows Anne Kerr, SWI President, unveiling the picture at the Centenerary Afternoon Tea in June 2022.

Shirley McKeand 1935-2020

The Dragon Lady

Shirley was born in Ripon and by her own admission was a straight talking Yorkshire woman, despite moving to Middlesex when young then north to Scotland after she married Neil McKeand.

She passed an entrance exam to Kilburn Polytechnic in 1948 where she was offered a 3 year course in tailoring. So began an amazing journey in needlework. She held various posts until she was employed by “House of Worth” producing couture garments for individual clients.

She moved to Ayrshire with Neil, had 3 sons and eventually they moved to Dumfries. Shirley was a member of Collin SWRI.

Shirley mastered many needlework techniques but Goldwork was her favourite. In 1997 she was awarded the SWRI Evelyn Baxter Scholarship in Metal Thread Embroidery with the late Helen Gibson. Shirley was an excellent teacher with the SWI, the Embroiderers Guild and at local authority evening classes. She was generous with her knowledge and shared a great sense of humour.

Shirley took on conservation work and making church vestments.

The “Ninian at Whithorn” panel of The Great Tapestry of Scotland was all her work. She embrodered a stunning crewel work called “Mort Cloth” which adorned her coffin in place of flowers.

It is fitting when we hear of astronomers seeing further in time and space that Shirley's Goldwork picture “Satellites” is being donated to the SWI National Archive. It was on show at the Dumfriesshire Federation Centenary Afternoon Tea in May and will be displayed at the Federation Show on October 21 and 22 before going to Edinburgh.

Shirley is remembered by her grandchildren as Dragon Granny as this lady who was small of stature but big in personality usually wore her own beautifully tailored outfits often embriodered with dragons.

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ann kerr with centenary keepsake.jpeg
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