Scissors, buttons and other sewing items.

Sew-cialising at Love Your Clothes London

Emma from West London Waste Authority explains that sewing workshops aren’t just about repairs: they are community events.

Here in West London we’ve been running a series of sewing workshops as part of Love Your Clothes London, organised in partnership with Recycle for London and Love Your Clothes.

The interest in the workshops in the lead-up has been great but nothing compared to the enthusiasm on the day as I found out at the Harrow repair workshop this week.

Arriving at Wealdstone Library, I met sewing teacher Barley Massey from Fabrications. Barley has years of sewing and craft experience and runs lots of classes every week from her east London workshop. Signups had been very high for the event so she had invited an assistant along to help ensure everyone had the help they needed. Everyone arrived promptly and they were full of energy.

Barley Massey at a Love Your Clothes sewing workshop.

We 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 equally 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.

People commented that “The tutors are very helpful and there is a good atmosphere, a community feel where students help one another.”

As the session went on, attendees began working on the clothes they’d brought along to be mended or followed the planned workshop activity. The room was 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 had been lost. This wasn’t just a sewing course: this was 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.

People sewing at a Love Your Clothes workshop.

As the session wrapped up I was bombarded with questions as to when the next one would be. This really brought to light the demand not only for sewing skill workshops, but a skill sharing community group. Several of the people who had met at this event had already exchanged information or invited each other to knitting groups in the future. Others had asked me for information on some of the other workshops we are running and said I would see them there! Each one thanked Barley and her assistant for their incredible help.

As one happy person told me: “It used to be mind boggling using a sewing machine, but now I’m a lot more confident.”
Overall the workshop was 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!”

We can’t wait for the next ones!

More information on West London events.

Similar events are taking place all across London throughout October as part of Love Your Clothes London. Find an event near you.