Friday, February 20, 2009

African Sewing Circle.... Multicultural fun!

Yesterday i had a richly rewarding & fun experience, which left me feeling very positive, happy & elated about the world we live in!

I joined a group of African refugee women in Coniston (Wollongong, 2 hours south of Sydney) for a community "sewing circle" to share my fashion knowledge and expertise, and to have a good old chat about the joys of sewing, pattern-making, fabrics, designing & making things with your hands! I have personally been sewing since i was 11 years old, when i took over my Mum's old Bernina sewing machine, & i find it very relaxing and soothing (unless i am in a crazy mad rush for a deadline- when it can be a little more stressful!!!)

The weekly community sewing group is organised by SCARF (strategic community assistance to refugee families) and run by a lovely friend of mine, Sarah Chisholm and a group of hard-working volunteers such as the wonderful Dot & Virginia. They use fabrics, patterns & sewing machines that are either donated, or purchased by the women or volunteers (for more info - email

The refugee women, mainly from African countries such as Sudan, Liberia and The Congo, are encouraged to create their own simple designs for funky handbags, water bottle carriers, casual shirts and dresses, etc, made from groovy vintage or African print cotton fabrics. The idea is to build a sustainable micro-business for each participant of the project, in which the women can then continute their work and sell their products at local markets and festivals, to earn their own income and develop their sewing skills further. Currently their work is sold at the local South-Coast NSW Coledale Markets on Sundays... for more info, check out the website:-

Many thanks to Sarah & all the lovely ladies for inviting me to join their weekly sewing circle - i was in total admiration of ALL your work, your funky designs and your combined team effort to build an exciting future for these truly inspirational & hard-working individuals... hope to be back there again very soon!

xx Lisa