Aaargh! What self-respecting girl doesn’t have a big ‘heap of shame’ in the back of their wardrobe? Clothes you bought originally because you liked something about them, only to reassess them in light of the fact that they either don’t fit – or there’s something else about them you dislike more.
Any of the following defects; the wrong sleeves, horrid neckline, too-long trousers, nasty buttons – can consign an item to the dreaded heap, never to see the light of day again - unless it’s shining through the window of a charity shop. And yet, the very existence of the heap of shame makes you wonder if you’re not quite ready to part with certain things…
If you’ve resisted throwing something away with the intention to one day ‘do something with it’ then textile recycling charity TRAID could be the ones to save it. TRAID are the only charity dedicated entirely to textiles and clothing. They collect unwanted clothes from around the country, handpicking the best to sell in their charity shops and creating new garments from the material of damaged clothes – for their recycled Traid Remade range.
The profits go towards funding international development projects across the global textile supply chain including projects to prevent child labour, to farm cotton without dangerous pesticides, to educate textile workers around their rights and basically give those working a manufacturing abroad a better deal.
TRAID had been putting on monthly sewing workshops for the public for ages, and got so much interest and were so over subscribed they opened a permanent creative workshop offering sustainable fashion courses in teaching sewing and ‘up-cycling’ skills. They’ve christened it the Sew Good Studio – and it’s housed above the TRAID charity shop in Kilburn, North West London.
You can choose between classes for basic sewing skills; mending, revamping and adjusting the items people brought along and now the studio offers more specialised courses to develop sewing skills further and even to learn how to make garments from scratch. Classes include Love Your Sewing Machine, Creative Alterations, TRAIDremade Masterclasses and Make a Peter Pan Collar. Find out more here.
I went along to one of the one-off sessions with an unwieldy jacket and had one of the funnest evenings I’ve had for ages. The groups are very small with lots of one-on-one help from the sewing teachers who are very skilled and super-friendly. Even if you don’t know which end of a needle to use, they’ll help you with every stage and teach you techniques so simple you can use them yourself at home. Best of all, while you get your sew on, you can have a brilliant gossip and meet some new people.
Although I didn’t manage to complete my ambitious jacket project in the time, it definitely whetted my appetite to go back and do so more sewing. It’s a skill that I’ve wanted to improve for ages, yet on my own I lacked the motivation and know-how. Rock up to TRAID and they’ll help you sort out your interfacing from your zig-zag in no time. traid.org.uk
Photography ©Rita Platts/TRAID