Sew-cialising at west London Love Your Clothes Workshops
In October we held a series of sewing workshops for repair skills in each of the 6 west London boroughs; Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond.
The interest in the workshops in the lead-up was great but nothing compared to the enthusiasm on the day!
The funding for these workshops came from Recycle for London and they’d chosen Barley Massey to run them. Barley has years of sewing and craft experience and runs lots of classes every week from her east London workshop. With around half of the sewing workshops oversubscribed, Barley had invited an assistant along to ensure everyone had the help they needed. Happily attendees arrived promptly (or early!) and they were always full of energy and excitement!
The workshops started with Barley asking everyone to introduce themselves, explain their sewing background and what they wanted out of the session. Although she had an outline of the activities I was impressed by the fact that she made changes to add in what people said they wanted from the morning. This was also well received by the attendees who were delighted that they could work on what they wanted with encouragement and help, whatever level of sewing skill they were at.
It was interesting to see the difference in focus between the workshops with some people wanting to know more about using sewing machines and others wanting hand sewing skills such as zip repair.
Lots of people commented that ‘The tutors are very helpful and there is a good atmosphere, a community feel where students help one another’.
The workshops began with basic stitches and what they can be used for on clothing. I’ve now got a sample showing lots of different types to keep me reminded of what I learned. As the session went on some attendees began working on the clothes they’d brought along to be mended and others followed the planned workshop activity.
At every workshop the room was always filled with people chatting about the sewing and life in general. It was so lovely to see people exchange their skills and admire one another’s work. It was also interesting to listen to conversations about why these skills were important and how it’s a shame they’d been lost. These weren’t just sewing workshops; they were a community event.
‘These workshops are important for the community, there used to be one and it was full and popular. They really do benefit the community’ said one lady.
At the end of every session I was always bombarded with questions as to when the next one would be. This really brought to light the demand for not only sewing skill workshops, but a skill sharing community group. Several of the people who had met at these events had already exchanged information or invited each other to knitting groups in the future.
As one happy person told me ‘It used to be mind boggling using a sewing machine, but now I’m a lot more confident’.
Barley and her assistant did a fantastic job, everyone was really pleased. The workshops were a great success, with high attendance and amazing feedback. It was clear that the attendees had all learnt some valuable repair skills that they could bring home and hopefully share with others!
A final word from one Harrow resident ‘I learnt lots, which gave me confidence to try new things at home. It was just what I was looking for!’