Soft Craft as Media and Language
for Empowerment


3 Cross Stitched Clothing Articles—Shirt, Bucket Hat, and Crossbody Bag, 
and 2 Publications 

Graduation Project
Level 3 BA Design Communication

Soft Craft as Media and Language for Empowerment is a research project studying how craft can be used as an alternative approach to traditional activism in Singapore’s strictly regulated political climate.

Typestitch experiments with the translation of messages into textile patterns using the craft technique of cross stitching. The experiments explore how clothes can be used to represent and embody messages.

In contrast to the traditional activist use of protest banners to convey a message, the delivery through clothing is much more covert, maintaining the same level of exposure for the message delivered, while not compromising on the users’ safety.

Problem: The traditional activist’s method of approaching issues head-on, although does guarantee their voices to be heard, often results in negative outputs that cause alienation of the people they set out to persuade. In most cases, these acts of activism can be overwhelming, and for many, especially in the context of Singapore, they are simply not feasible. Given the political climate in Singapore where it is crucial to prioritize public order and racial harmony, it is considered taboo to openly perform such activist acts. This unfortunately results in the eradication of any representation of one such minority group—the LGBTQ+ community, as a result, LGBTQ+ individuals are cut off from the rest of the nation. 

Insight & Idea: Through experimenting with craft’s materiality, specifically the use of soft fiber material, my research explores methods in which I can embody the silenced voices of the LGBTQ+ community into craft’s soft material. With its non-threatening connotations, craft’s soft materiality can act as an equalizer to equip unrepresented individuals with an accessible medium to channel their voices, providing them with a sense of empowerment, while effectively countering the violent nature of activism.
 ︎︎︎ Click on images above to view articles
Extracted from a recent demonstration held in 2021 against transphobia in Singapore schools—three of the five student protestors were arrested under the Public Order Act. Placard messages from the three arrested students were extracted, then translated into coded textile patterns.



“trans students will NOT be erased”

 ︎︎︎ Click on images above to view article

Using a system of boxes and crosses in grids, I was able to create pixelated letters that could be easily translated into cross-stitched patterens. The resulting text varied in legibility with different combinations of boxes and crosses used. 
The stitched letters could then be further manipulated when stitched—either to have letters stuck next to each other, or have sentences stacked on top of each other in—all in the attempt to further encrypt the message it holds. 

This creates a coded textile pattern—only decipherable by the individuals in the community.

︎ Documentation of Creative Process Journal (CPJ) in progress...

Due to the project’s exploratory nature, it was critical that the presentation of the three physical outcomes were paired with documented in-progress works and past trial explorations.

Compiled into a mini publication, the journal records all details of the year long research.