Community Sewing Project

Community Sewing Project

Manchester, United KingdomManchester, United Kingdom
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Stitched Up Co-Operative Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation of six women, whose mission is to inspire people to adopt a more sustainable and creative wardrobe approach. Stitched Up provides fun, ethical, creative fashion, craft and textile workshops for people of all ages.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Our project provides new ways of solving larger problems, such as climate change and pollution, through small steps such as learning recycled crafts and sustainable sewing skills. The combined waste from clothing and textiles in the UK is approximately 2.35 million tonnes, of which 74% (around 30kg per person) is sent to landfill, causing problems such as carbon emissions, toxic pollution to our soil and water.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

As an effective waste management strategy, upcycling is the practice of taking discarded or 'useless' goods and transforming them into products of greater use and value, often through the use of creative design and skilled craftsmanship. In contrast to this, recycling is a process that downgrades products almost immediately into low-quality end-uses. Sewing and upcycling skills workshops, showing communities how to effectively maintain and repair garments, work to change behaviour and encourage people to make small changes in the way they consume, teaching new skills and bringing together like-minded individuals; who all want to work together to change society for the better, to make a big impact overall.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

During our November 2012 workshops, participants were invited to bring along any clothes or textiles that they still used, but needed a new lease of life, or mending. We discussed possibilities for upcycling or refreshing the items, either through mending or changing the item's appearance using appliqué and other embellishing techniques, or changing its functionality or style – for example turning a pair of jeans into a miniskirt. There were also opportunities for participants to learn more about the environmental and economic issues of clothing and textile waste, and to gain an understanding of the implications in throwing clothing and textile waste in the refuse bin through group discussions at the beginning and end of sessions.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In November 2012 we delivered 9 sewing classes, developed to build the sewing skills and confidence of local Manchester residents, to help them be able to mend, re-fit and re-style their own wardrobes. The total number of residents engaged at the sewing classes were 91, and 98% of the residents attended felt they then had the skills and confidence to start upcycling and 83% were inspired to buy second-hand and upcycled clothing. For the next stage of the project, we propose to run 24 upcycling and sewing workshops, hold 6 drop in upcycling sessions, host monthly clothes swap and stitch clinic, host two themed social evenings for local crafts-persons, engage with a minimum of 48 local residents through all services, establish a reclaimed haberdashery service in shop, recruit 3 volunteers to support project and re-use or divert at least 100 items of textiles.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our products and services are:Retail Shop, Reclaimed Haberdashery, Clothes Swaps, Workshops , Sewing Café – pay-per-hour sewing machines, Networking Events, Awareness-Raising Events As well as running the shop, we will continue to travel to deliver paid workshops at other organisations, venues and events, such as festivals, museums and schools, empowering others with the skills, knowledge and desire to become socially responsible consumers.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are currently several other groups in Greater Manchester offering sewing workshops based on garment construction which are very expensive. We feel this excludes low income sectors of the community as there is no provision for affordable workshops. Low cost and free workshops that have been put on by us and others have been well attended and reactions have been entirely positive. During our current economic situation services are being cut and places to go and learn and meet up people are diminishing. Our project fulfils both these needs, as well as teaching practical skills.

Founding Story

Stitched Up is a group of creative, passionate, earth conscious fashionista-revolutionaries. Our shared passion for fashion justice brought us together to form an all-women ethically-minded non-profit co-operative on a mission to inspire people to choose a more creative and sustainable wardrobe. Our name reflects the way we feel the fashion industry treats us, its workers and its shoppers. Our workshops, clothes swaps and styling expertise encourage people to upcycle, create and stitch, empowering, enlightening and engaging people of all ages and backgrounds. It is great to see the difference we can make once participants have created something by themselves, and feel an enormous sense of achievement. We also place great emphasis on our
About You
Stitched Up
About You
First Name


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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Stitched Up

Organization Country

, MAN, Manchester

Country where this project is creating social impact

, MAN, Manchester

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

In November we provided the 9 sewing classes for the award winning Watch Your Waste Week for Recycle for Greater Manchester and we have also received some funding from the local council Community Waste Fund to set up a pop up workshop space in a retail unit, in order to promote textile recycling activities, to provide sewing and clothes upcycling workshops, operate a drop-in centre and run social gatherings and educational events that provide an alternative to the high street consumerism that has become so prevalent.

Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Healthy environments., Human wellness and vitality.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Healthy environments, Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

Being able to offer fair-trade sustainably sourced refreshments in our sewing cafe would create a completely ethical and socially responsible business. Offering additional workshops in growing your own food would also add to the well being and self-sustaining ethos we are promoting through our workshops to mend and create your own clothing. The added capacity to offer all these services would enable us to become a centre for improving the quality, efficiency and sustainability of the everyday lives of local communities in the Greater Manchester area and the UK.