Amelia’s Magazine | TRAID ‘Sew Good’ workshops – free for all!

P1142268Imagery throughout courtesy of Rachael Oku

On the 14th January I was kindly invited to the first ‘Sew Good’ Lock In of the New Year by TRAID’s Head of Education, information pills erectile Lyla Patel. Having heard about the workshops some time ago I was keen to pop along to one and find out firsthand if they really do teach you to ‘Sew Good’.

P1142275For those not yet in-the-know TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) is a charity working to reduce landfill by collecting and reusing residents of the UK’s unwanted clothes, visit and raising funds to fight global poverty by reselling them in their trademark shops. 2010 is a special year for the charity as it celebrates its 10th birthday so there are sure to be lots of events taking place that you can get involved with throughout the year.

P1142276Armed with my SLR digital camera and a notebook I headed to the TRAID flagship store on Camden High Street with a childish excitement at the prospect of being in store after hours. As I entered the store the friendly retail staff were busy tidying up whilst the workshop was in full swing, symptoms with each of the four ladies in attendance talking Lyla (and her assistant Yuqian) through what garments they had brought with them and how they were hoping to re-invent them. With ample supplies of yarn, buttons and every other embellishment you can think of I was transported back to my childhood – feeling very much like the wide-eyed kid in the candy store.

P1142274Christiana making a start on her shirt.

Christiana came to the workshop after hearing about TRAID at an Ethical Fashion Forum event last year. She brought along a selection of four shirts with the hopes of combining her favourite elements from each by creating one stellar wardrobe staple using an oversized men’s shirt as the base.

P1142280Lyla helping Christiana fit her shirt after removing the sleeves.

P1142279Laura cutting out her birds…

Laura came to the workshop looking to rejuvenate an old hoody, with hopes of making it look a bit more quirky. After talking it over with Lyla she decided to use a lace trim to hide the existing logo on the collar coupled with the addition of some bird shapes to decorate the back. Laura heard about the workshop through the website as she originally wanted to bring along her class of 17.


P1142282Mojca pinning her lace before sewing.

Mojca brought along a simple black V-neck cardigan that she was hoping to revamp into something a little less basic. Channelling the Victoriana look she chose to add a lace collar to the cardigan in the form of a ruff which looked absolutely stunning.P1142285Last but not least I met Michelle who was looking to reinvent a black t-shirt as she didn’t like the V-neckline. To mix things up she added a purple band of fabric inside squaring off the neckline and adding a bright splash of colour.

P1142288Lyla overseeing Michelle sew on the machines…

After meeting and talking to Lyla about this great scheme I learned that the ‘Sew Good’ workshops began at the beginning of 2009 and are fast growing in popularity, although TRAID have experienced their fair share of setbacks along the way, most notably with the theft of two sewing machines that had kindly been donated. This means that there are currently not enough sewing machines per student, so if anyone out there has a sewing machine they’d like to find a new home for look no further!!

P1142277Lyla Patel, TRAID’s Head of Education said, “We run our workshops in TRAID shops so everyone taking part is surrounded by inspiration from our fantastic pre-loved and vintage stock. The techniques taught make clothes last longer, diverting clothes from landfill and protecting the environment. Its fun, it’s ethical and there is nothing like basking in the glow of something that you have made yourself.”

P1142283By running free ‘Sew Good’ events TRAID are aiming to help people take control of their wardrobe and extend the life of their clothes by teaching basic mending, adjusting and remaking skills that will hopefully stay with them for life. With the free workshops open to everyone, regardless of their skill level there’s really no excuse for not popping down and getting into the ‘Make Do and Mend’ Spirit. Did I mention that it’s Free?

With places limited to six per session it is essential to book in advance, which you can do by contacting the lovely Lyla ( For those teachers among Amelia’s readership, you may find it useful to know that TRAID also run workshops for schools within the capital.
Monthly Saturday Workshops (11am – 3pm) at TRAID Shepherds Bush, 154 Uxbridge Road, W12 8AA
January 30 // February 27 // March 27 //April 24 //May 29 // June 26 // July 31 // August 21 //
September 25 // October 30 // November 27

Quarterly Thursday Workshops (6pm – 9pm) at TRAID Camden, 154 Camden High Street, NW1 0NE
January 14 // April 8 // July 8 // October 7

To mark the 10th anniversary, supermodel Erin O’Connor visited a TRAID funded project in India improving the lives of women textile workers and created a stunning photographic story which is being exhibited next month (1-10 February) at the Richard Young Gallery.

Categories ,Sew Good, ,traid

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