Suzanne Kelly from Stitch! Crafts & Classes on how the Palmers Green social enterprise is helping children learn more about the clothes they wear
In a time when the global clothing industry is under increasing scrutiny and sustainable fashion is becoming a hot topic, Stitch! Crafts & Classes has been teaching the benefits of upcycling clothes and garments to local schoolchildren.
We have been running workshops with year eight students at Broomfield Secondary School in Palmers Green, something made possible by a grant from the #iwill Fund, a joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, supporting young people to access high-quality social action opportunities.
The #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations, who all contribute funding, to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people. The purpose of these workshops has been to help young people think about the clothing industry and its effects on people and our planet, raising awareness of issues related to fast and disposable fashion with the aim of opening their minds to the option of a more sustainable approach.
Some alarming statistics include the fact that 2,700 litres of water are needed to grow cotton plants, dye and finish a cotton T-shirt, and that it will take 200 years for clothes to rot away in landfill. The tutors at Stitch! have been passing on practical sewing and mending skills to help children refashion their clothes and creatively transform existing clothes into upcycled garments and accessories, while rethinking how they buy new ones.
They have also been encouraging and supporting the children to show others what they have learned, so that they can have fun refashioning clothes and understand ways they can reduce their impact on the environment. The aim is to inspire and equip the group to be champions of sustainable fashion and of clothes upcycling, so they can campaign on these issues in their peer group.
Aimee Morris, head of art, design and technology at Broomfield School, said: “Students have loved taking part in the Stitch! upcycling workshops. It has been a great opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends and learn about environmental issues, while making links with our local community.”
Stitch! Crafts & Classes is a social enterprise based in Palmers Green (within the Post Office building in Green Lanes). As well as selling fabric, haberdashery, wool, craft kits and gift from local makers, we run classes in sewing, crochet, knitting, darning, quilting and kids’ crafts.