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Sew With Pride, by Claire (@theoriginalclaireinkorea)

#sewwithpride for June

Like many beginner sewists, I only really discovered my passion for sewing during the first lockdown in 2020. I’d bought a sewing machine 4 years earlier after getting into watching Sewing Bee and thinking I’d love to learn to sew. I made some bunting for my best friend @sewingmara’s wedding and then got caught up in other life stuff – moving house, IVF, pregnancy and twins – and promptly forgot about it. But each year I’d watch Sewing Bee and look at my ever growing wardrobe of shop-bought clothes that never quite fitted me properly and think ‘I wish I could make my own clothes’. At 5’2’’ and a bit, and still 4 years later sporting a post-pregnancy tum, I generally struggled to find outfits that flattered my shape.

Fast forward to 2020 and 3 weeks into my new dream job, lockdown descended. Like everyone I was stuck at home and whilst I loved my job working for a charity, it was really stressful being on Teams all day and dealing with challenging issues like mental health and wellbeing, furlough, financial sustainability and moving crucial face to face services online. I also found the constant updates on Covid through social media really toxic and unhelpful.

So I came off Facebook and news apps and turned instead to Pinterest, where my attention gravitated first to all things colourful and patterned, and then eventually to simple items you could sew with almost no skill or experience.

I dug out my sewing machine and my first project was a simple toothbrush wrap made from an old towel and a fat quarter I found in the cupboard. It was basic, but I felt such a rush of pride after completing it in just one evening that was instantly hooked. I was, of course, terrified of patterns because they made literally no sense to me. But I started searching out pattern-free instructions for a skirt with an elasticated waist and tried to copy existing tops that I had, and soon started sharing photos of my makes with @sewingmara, who I knew had taken sewing classes some years earlier. It turned out she hadn’t sewn for ages either, but was keen to take it up again, so we started sewing together via Zoom, coaching each other and learning new skills together via you tube, Instagram and a growing library of sewing books.

At Christmas we set ourselves a goal to join the #makenine2021 challenge and document our makes via Instagram. My aspiration in January 2021 was to be able to make a dress – now in June, at the last count I had made 22 wearable items, including 8 dresses!

I’ve had so much fun sewing and it has boosted my wellbeing during the most recent lockdown. But I have also really enjoyed feeling a part of the Instagram sewing community. I’d stayed away from Instagram in the past after hearing so many stories of bullying and negativity, but all of interactions I’ve had with the sewing community have been nothing but positive and supportive. As well as #makenine2021, @sewingmara and I have taken part in #memadeMay and #sewyellowforendo – which as @sewingmara is an #endowarrior herself was particularly close to our hearts.

So it was a bit of a no brainer really when it came to the idea for #sewwithpride. @sewingmara was the first person I came out to when I was 15 and I was always really lucky that I had supportive friends and family. But through our connections with other LGBTQ+ family members and friends, we were both very aware that is not always the case. Even in 2021, there are still many LGBTQ+ young people who are either rejected by their family or for whatever reason are no longer able to live with their families. So its crucial that organisations like the Albert Kennedy Trust are able to be there to support those young people when they are vulnerable and experiencing a crisis – particularly during Covid and lockdowns, when home may not be the safest place to be. Through providing safe housing and support, AKT helps young people to focus on their futures and not miss out on opportunities for life skills, education and employment that will ultimately help them to become independent and resilient adults.

So throughout June we are encouraging people to #sewwithpride and create something using rainbow colours or rainbows and share it with us, then if you can support the Albert Kennedy Trust with a donation via our justgiving page, please do. By taking part you will not only be helping a fabulous charity, but you can also be in with a chance of winning these awesome prizes:

A digital sewing pack from @in_a_haystack – in addition they are offering 20% off you first digital pack for any new subscribers if you quote #sewwithpride when you sign up.

Fab rainbow-coloured Kylie and the Machine labels from @sewmuchmoor – who is also offering a 10% discount on a lovely range of rainbow fabric and haberdashery items when using the code ‘rainbow’ at the checkout.

A rainbow themed Birchbox stuffed full of pamper items, including a full size Jecca Black Glow Drops worth £16.

You can find out more about the amazing work that the Albert Kennedy Trust does here.

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