Friday, February 14, 2020

Sewing for a Cause

I haven't been making much in terms of wardrobe this month -- and that is because I've been very busy doing other kinds of sewing.

This month has brought me two great projects. The first is setting up a local Boomerang Bags group. Boomerang Bags is an organization based in Australia, with the aim of getting people to think about plastic use, textile waste and other issues of sustainability. Anyone can sign up to form a chapter, and they provide a great toolkit when you do sign up, so it's easy to start.

They focus on community created tote bags, made from only upcycled fabrics, that are then given out freely in the community. Many groups do charge a nominal fee or a donation, just to keep themselves going. Boomerang Bags can be found in local shops, libraries, or at craft or community fairs.

Our local Boomerang Bags group had our first informational meetup this month, and so I was busily sewing and cutting to get some samples made for people.

 I was able to cut 7 bags from 2 m. of leftover thrifted quilting fabric (though I'm a handle or two short so will have to cut those from other fabric!) I also used a couple of pillowcases, which are just about the right size on their own! I have two sheets in waiting, too -- you just have to make sure your fabric is sturdy enough for a tote. Curtains, tablecloths, sheets, quilting cotton -- even old clothes -- you can upcycle a lot of different things. Boomerang Bags provides a basic tote pattern, but you're welcome to use any pattern you like, as long as the bags are created by the community group (not pre-bought) and use upcycled fabric. I bought a few fabric labels to start, but our library MakerSpace is creating a stamp for me to use to start stamping our own labels!

It's basic sewing, but fun and it feels great to be forming some community connections this way. A sewing bee will happening in March so I'm going to be busy with these bags again for the next little while.

The next project that I've been spending a lot of time on is an ArtBuild for Amnesty International. I'm really enthused about Craftivism in general, and this seems to be a great fit. I've used some of these elements in our local Amnesty group before (making fabric bird postcards for Write for Rights days) but this is a bigger, coordinated approach.

There is a Day of Action on March 2 in honour of  Berta C├íceres, a Honduran water rights defender who was murdered in 2016. Our local group is making a banner that will be used on March 2 and then passed on to the Honduran groups to use as needed. My role was to get the image of Berta and our slogan prepared from the felt that we had ready. I used an image of Berta and traced it to make what looks like a paint-by-number pattern. Then I scanned it and printed it as a tiled poster (at about 375%) to make what is essentially a pdf pattern.

This resulted in a great image; close up it looks a bit odd but get just a little distance and you see Berta clearly. Next steps are to meet up with Amnesty members and put the banner together with lots of colour and messages. I'm really happy to be able to use my craft skills to help this project. It's a timely reminder that the earth and our environments are more important than money, and some people really do give all for those things.

After these projects are mostly done (at least the majority of my input is done) I'm planning to get back to the two sewing projects I've put aside. On to sewing up an Agnes dress (from Halla Patterns) and then cutting and sewing my floral Khaliah Ali tunic.

I'm so glad that sewing shows up in so many places :)


  1. Thanks for the Boomerang Bags information! Reusable bags are needed everywhere, especially in New York State where the single use plastic bag is banned on March 1st! YEA DOUBLE YEA, ABOUT TIME!

    1. Whoa, the whole state! Congrats -- yes, reusable bags are definitely a must for everyone. I am hoping people here will appreciate having more options :)

  2. You're an inspiration, Melanie! Can't wait to see the finished Berta piece.

    1. It is going to be lovely, and I hope will have that visual impact that will interest people in the initiative. It will be shared at a few events locally in the next month before sending it on.


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