Meet Olivia

What is your craft?

My craft is currently centred on memorial textile work. I make sweetheart pincushions using traditional methods for war commemoration, personal memorials and even weddings and births. Sweetheart pincushions originated during the First World War; convalescing soldiers were given fabric hearts stuffed with sawdust to decorate with pins, beads, buttons, cigarette silks and more. They were then sent home to loved ones. The story of this folk art really struck a chord with me and I wanted to make it work again 100 years later.

How did you get started and when?

I had been sewing and selling on Facebook page for quite a while but I was becoming concerned about stagnating in my craft. I am also a full time secondary school teacher and I wanted something new to challenge me, interest me and attract a new audience. In October 2016 I decided to combine my love of art with my interest in history (WW1 in particular) and began to plan my own exhibition; a series of 50 replica sweetheart pincushions, each dedicated to a Leeds Pal who lost his life on the first day of the Somme (July 1st 1916). It was a huge success and raised money for The Royal British Legion which I was extremely proud of. I have since been working on private commissions, a piece to honour the Barnbow Lasses, a commemorative heart for the Battle of Arras and I also have a big, big surprise to come but I can’t tell you about that yet!

Do you have a business name? What is it and how did you choose it?

My business name on Facebook has been Liv & Sew (a play on Olivia and my love for sewing!) and couldn’t part with it when I changed to ‘Memorial Textile Artist’. I might drop it one day but I think it has some familiarity to it now.

What is your favourite part of your craft?

Oooooh the planning stages! It normally involves quite a lot of research and I use Ebay a lot to find things like regimental badges, cigarette cards and so on. I use a sketch book to draw up my idea, make the heart and off I go! To be honest the design is normally quite organic and I adapt as I go along.

What is your least favourite part?

Stuffing the heart with sawdust! It is a nightmare and I always make such a mess!

Do you have a favourite thing that you make? Do you have a picture of it?

Here is my favourite sweetheart pincushion. I like it so much that I have kept it for myself! It is dedicated to Private Crawford Stokoe 15/855 who was killed in action on 1st July 1916.


Do you have a website or Facebook page? If so what is the URL?

Do you sell your makes? If so, how and where?

I sell them through my Facebook page and over email too at

What is your favourite craft product?

The standard medium sized (12×12) sweetheart pincushion stuffed with sawdust and finished with vintage items.

What is your favourite craft supplier?

Other than Ebay, my absolute favourite supplier its Betsy’s Button Shop on Facebook. I buy ALL SORTS from her as she sells not only vintage buttons but other bits and pieces too. I buy all my pins, cigarette guards and war items from various sellers on Ebay.

Personal Details


Olivia Young






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