Sewing for good with My Chance charity in Loughborough

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Hi gang, in case you were wondering if I fell off the face of the earth, the answer is no, here I am! Though this is not a me-made post (a few of those in the pipeline, coming soon), I hope you will allow me to share an experience that I enjoyed very much and which moved and left a strong impression on me.

Through various connection with which I won’t bore you now, I got in touch with My Chance, a charity in Loughborough, who was looking for a volunteer sewing tutor. Yes, I know, a bit far from home, but you will see it was all worth it. As you might have noticed, I love teaching sewing and I am jumping at any opportunity to run workshops or help people on a 1-2-1. So I was really keen to help, although it did take a bit of travelling on a bank holiday week-end (talk about travel hell…).

So last Saturday, 23rd May, I packed my sewing tools (and my overlocker!!) and headed to Loughborough to meet the lovely people from My Chance, to teach, you guessed it, sewing! Here’s my overlocker packed and ready to go (or rather be dragged)! Btw, totally recommend this nifty carry case (minus wheels, those were from an old shopping trolley).

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So here I am at 8.30 AM with my friend Malcolm, a wonderful person who works his magic to help link business, local authorities and charities locally, and the one who got me in touch with My Chance, roaming the streets of Loughborough on the way to Second Chance, the charity’s shop/workshop mini studio. Malcolm also took the pictures, check out his photography blog, he is incredibly talented!

The lovely Jen, with whom I had been in contact to organise the logistics of the day, greeted us warmly, with coffee and cookies, so excited to spend the day sewing and talking upcycling. She is also into sewing, and has just received a vintage Bernina (which she brought to the workshop as well), lucky girl! She is a trained illustrator, but has been spending most of her work life working with outreach groups thorough art.

But I’ve been yapping on and haven’t yet told you about the charity’s work…

My Chance is a charity business that is part of Youth Shelter in Loughborough and aims to provide positive activities for vulnerable adults in the local community. They run workshops in upcycling and creative activities using donated textiles and furniture. The aim is to provide meaningful activities for vulnerable adults and teach new skills that can lead to further training and employment opportunities. The upcycled items are sold through the Second Chance shop in Baxtergate to raise funds for Youth Shelter and reduce the amount of unwanted items reaching landfill. So totally up my (sustainable) street as well!

And then when I met my students for the day, Ava and Chloe (residents of the youth centre linked with the charity), I was completely won over. Ava was really interested in sewing and also designing, but didn’t ever get the chance to learn how to use a sewing machine. So we started with the basics and I was so impressed by how attentive she was, how she took it all in, taking notes, with such an obvious pleasure and interest! I am telling you folks, I think the bug has been instilled into yet another young creative mind!

We were also joined by Sue, who is a volunteer at the shop and friend of Jen’s and who wanted to come and learn new tricks, although she already has a great experience in textiles (she makes amazing felt!!), and a few others who dropped-in throughout the day.

Although Jen and I had prepared a structure for some upcycling projects, as well as a quick tutorial on zips and hems, the day ended up being really fluid, as Ava really wanted to learn more about fabric and sustainable options, and as you noticed, those are some of my favourite topics. Plus everybody got really excited about the overlocker, so I ended up doing an impromptu course on threading and tension and everyone got to play with it a bit.

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Here’s Ava having a go herself, upcycling an old t-shirt into a halter top! She was completely fearless, a good example for other even more experienced sewers who have ovelocker-blockers!

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Later in the day, Sharon, a school teacher and former pattern cutter, popped by with her daughter Georgina, who had her eye on one of the dresses on sale in the shop. Trouble was that the dress was a size 18 and she was a size 8, so we ended up doing an on the spot alteration to take it in. Long live Mr. Overlocker, he delivered successfully…

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Although maybe a bit chaotic, the day ended being such fun, especially since we were generously fuelled by Jen with tea and cake, plus a nice lunch at mid-day. Here’s the main gang: yours truly, Ava, Jen, Sue and Chloe, looking glamorous in her (fake) fur coat.

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I’m already talking to Jen about doing another workshop later in the year and I just had news today that the charity will support Ava to get a sewing machine, so she can further develop her skills!

So good luck to Second Chance (find them @secondchance0 on Twitter and on FB https://www.facebook.com/pages/Second-Chance/286912814765769), who are moving very soon into a new shop, filling a vacant lot in the town centre and hope to see my new friends very soon for some more sewing for good!

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