The Significant Seams Artist Associates have long felt we have a responsibility to understand the impact of the textile industry and have each made choices in our personal practices to try to be a bit more ecologically responsible. Catherine West was even named a ‘Love Your Clothes’ Champion, by WRAP, the national ‘Waste and Resources Action Programme’ eight years ago for her leadership in textile reuse through art. Over the last few years, our associates have also noticed an emerging trend – more and more participants in our workshops have identified the Climate Crisis as amongst the issues causing them stress. Even in the midst of lockdown and global pandemic, a significant number of participants in the Quarantine Quilt project identified climate related themes in the patches they made: celebrating bird song, declaring ‘we need more trees,’ and expressing gratitude for the nature they encountered during their daily exercise.
Over the last year we have explicitly been exploring ways to be part of the solutions, and have run more eco-themed workshops and talked more and more openly about the environmental problems of the textile industry. Behind the scenes, we have now written our own decarbonisation plan, and decided our actions to fulfill it will be reviewed just as often as our finances. We also want to help those who look to us for advice and know-how – so we have now produced two documents to help individuals ‘Sew for Social Good.’
The first focuses on patchwork basics and colour theory through a patchwork tote bag. Colour conveys moods and tells stories. We anticipate offering a number of workshops to make these socially in the New Year. This is available for free download – or a professionally printed version with a sew-in label can be purchased from our online shop.
The second, released in time for Halloween costume-making – focuses on appliqué with lots of practical tips on understanding (deciphering!) fabric and threads, and picking the right stitch settings for success in machine sewing. It also has lots of information to inform, inspire, and engage people in more sustainable textile related behaviours. There is also signposting to groups and organisations to find a community of like-minded people. There is no need to feel alone in tackling the climate crisis!
We’d love your feedback on these resources.