National Sew Creative Lottery Funds Sewcialise and Upcycle Workshops


Cambridge charities Sew Positive and Cambridge Women’s Resources Center (CWRC) have received £10,000 funding from the National Lottery to run a year-long program of workshops and events aimed at tackling climate change through to the recycling of fashion and textiles.

Melissa Santiago-Val, creative sewing. Photo: Keith Hepell

The program includes instruction in repairing and mending, recycling and reusing clothing. Workshops will range from using a sewing machine and making sustainable sanitary products to creative workshops on reusing clothes and finding charity shops.

The first set of weekly two-hour afternoon classes begins April 19 and runs for 12 weeks. Classes will be repeated in the fall and spring terms for new groups.

But the initiative will not stop after each quarter because participants will be able to join a “Sewcialise and Upcycle” group to pursue their skills and bring communities together. The program will culminate when the project wraps up on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023 with a fashion show and “swish and swap” event of items made during the program.

Participants will track the materials used in the sessions and record any modified, recycled, repaired or embellished items. This will allow organizers to calculate the impact of shifting choices to reusable products, sewing, mending and recycling. Participants will use “Impact Diaries” which are embroidered with icons to keep track of the changes they have made.

Sew Creative From left, are Laura Kirby, Melissa Santiago-Val, Jo Reves-Hairs and Margot Eagle.  Photo: Keith Hepell
Sew Creative From left, are Laura Kirby, Melissa Santiago-Val, Jo Reves-Hairs and Margot Eagle. Photo: Keith Hepell

Above all, it will be possible to calculate the value of manufactured items such as sanitary napkins or reusable underwear compared to traditional single-use disposable sanitary products.

Melissa Santiago-Val, CEO of Sew Positive, said, “This is our first successful National Lottery entry and we are delighted to be working with the CWRC on such an important climate change project.

“After COP26, there is an urgent need for everyone, including disadvantaged communities, to feel empowered to make changes to textile waste that can impact climate change. With fashion production being responsible for 17-20% of global water pollution and 80% of discarded clothing ending up in landfill, this project is of critical importance to people and the planet.

The course, starting April 19, is free for women experiencing discrimination, mental health issues, social isolation, working less than 16 hours per week and able to attend 80% of term sessions.

There is a maximum of 10 people per class. E-mail [email protected] for more details and to register.