There are lots of great community-level organisations in Manchester. One of them is Stitched Up. Sarah, from the organisation, answers our questions below….
1. Who is “Stitched Up?” When did you begin, why? How many folks are involved now?
Stitched Up was established in 2012 to inspire people to dress in a more creative and sustainable way. We share skills and resources and host events that make sustainable clothing choices fun, social and accessible. By ‘sustainable clothing choices’ we mean keeping clothes in use for longer – reusing, swapping, ending, upcycling and making your own clothes. We encourage creative expression through clothing, embracing the positive impact of ‘making’ and craft on mental wellbeing, bringing people together to foster community cohesion. We educate people on the negative impacts of the mainstream fashion industry and empower them to make a positive difference.
There are four of us in our female lead team, including myself (Sarah) Workshop facilitator and Bookings Coordinator, Bryony (Co Founder) Outreach and workshop facilitator, Jo our Volunteer and events assistant and finally Caitlin our Workshop facilitator. We are also supported by our wonderful volunteers (aprox 61 volunteers each year)
Our full mission statement is online here: http://stitchedup.coop/about/
2. What was Stitched Up doing and planning to do back a hundred years ago – in February, before we all learned the word “coronavirus”?
2020 was going really well for us. We were putting together some really exciting additions to our public programme of workshops, had just started a new project with Revive, a charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers, and we were starting to plan for a move to a bigger space. Back in February we had also started another project, our Bee Well Crafternoons – an NHS funded project delivering weekly skill building workshop to those facing mental health challenges. However after a short hiatus we have quite luckily managed to go online for this project to still be able to deliver some kind of support to those on our Chorlton and Gorton groups.
3. Tell us a bit about the facemask project – when did you start work on it, what is the overall aim?
I myself had started to make masks for myself and my housemates looking into the best types of materials we could use but we had also had enquiries from the Kindling Trust and Unicorn Grocery for making masks for their workers. We had tested out a fair few designs and researched into suitable materials to help the wearer prevent spreading the virus – we are still researching into effective filter fabric to give the wearer some more protection.
The overall aim of creating masks is to have a reusable and sustainable option for the public as we still want to keep teaching our ethos. We have also released a downloadable PDF mask pattern and instructions for people at home to create their own, which can also give people a creative and affordable project to work on. You can find our mask pattern here.
4. Relatedly, how can people support you? Cash? Old clothes? sewing skills? Something else?
For us, like so many events-based organisations, pretty much our entire income disappeared overnight. We are simply unable to carry out most of our work, since almost everything we do centres around bringing groups of people together to share and learn things. We’re missing seeing you all at our HQ so much! We’re having to think on our feet in order to survive. Behind the scenes, we’re working on bringing some elements of our work online. And we’re putting together a super exciting workshop programme to go live as soon as we reopen, including natural dyeing, pattern drafting, upcycling, holiday clubs and more.
In the meantime we currently have 11 days left of our crowdfunder pay it forward project where all donations can be transferred onto workshops when we reopen! Other ways to donate are through our Paypal. We are so grateful for any support and understand that this ‘lockdown’ has affected everyone financially so if you could help share our message and share any creative projects you’re working on, as we would love to see!
5. What are the major things that you’d like to see happen in (Greater) Manchester once some kind of “normal” returns (this can be about transport, food, clothing, you name it!)
I think we can all safely say that our attitudes are starting to change with what has been happening globally, as selected clothing brands are closing their warehouses to protect their workers we are hoping this thought process continues when it comes to consumer shopping decisions. Who made my clothes, what conditions are they working in and how will that effect their quality of life?
This virus has brought so many questions to us all, what do we need to do in order to support our workers and ourselves, what could have been done differently and how to learn for the future? Most importantly how, as a society can we help each other? I hope that these questions move with us back to ‘normal’ life.