Sew Solidarity challenge

I’ve decided to join the #Sewsolidarity movement. TRAID is a UK based charity looking to reduce our waste from clothes and support international projects to improve conditions for people working in the textiles industry.

I was lucky enough to visit a project partly funded by TRAID in Ethiopia last year. I was visiting on behalf of the Darwin Initiative – my day job. As part of the work I obviously had to do some reading up on TRAID and what they do. I’d never come across them before but I was seriously impressed. For the small amount of money (relatively speaking) they were achieving significant impact with small-scale farmers in Ethiopia seeking organic certification with H&M and C&A waiting in the wings to buy the cotton.

2014-11-12 17.11.11 IMG_5088

They’ve launched the #Sewsolidarity movement to mark the Rana Plaza disaster. 2 years ago on April 24th the Rana Plaza factory collapsed killing over 1,100 people and injuring over 2,500 others. The saddest saddest thing about Rana is cracks had been seen earlier that day and workers and been evacuated. The managers at Ether Tex threatened to withhold a months pay from workers who refused to come to work. These workers were on tiny wages, barely getting by and so for them the threat was too much – they had to go back to work. And as a result – many of them would die.

The garments being made in this factory were destined for clothes shops such as Primark, C&A, H&M, Mango, Walmart and many others. Shops that sell high volume of clothes at cheap prices. One of the reasons these clothes are so cheap is because the garment workers are paid wages so low they can’t afford to live:

So back to the campaign. Its a campaign for fairness. For equality. For ensuring the clothes that we buy are not causing harm to others in less privileged positions.

TRAID are asking you to take a piece of clothing made in Bangladesh (ideally from your wardrobe, a charity shop or a friend), or pick a brand which manufactures in Bangladesh.

Through this challenge TRAID want you to show you value these garments, and the people who have worked on it, by re-purposing it and giving it longer life. You might set yourself a major challenge with a complete transformation of one or more pieces showcasing your skills, or simply mend a garment turning it from unwearable to wearable in one short sewing session.

Share your progress through any of your online channels using the hashtag#SewSolidarity and then upload your finished piece on April 24th 2015. This could include:-

  • The original garment/s
  • The main sewing steps
  • The finished piece
  • Your reflections on stopping exploitation in the fashion industry and how we can support garment workers globally
  • Using social media to contact brands (you can share your reworked piece!), and demand they pay into the Rana Plaza compensation fund AND to ask them about working conditions and safety in their factories.

As for me – I went through my entire wardrobe and could only find this jumper that was made in Bangladesh. I’m struggling to work out what to do with it. I’ve scoured Pinterest and I’m considering either slippers, a cushion or a skirt. Trouble is the weather has just turned warmer and I can’t even think about wearing such a thick jumper. I may have to do a little visit to a charity shop this week…..


So what do you think – are you joining the movement? Do you try to avoid fast fashion? What on earth can I do with this big, clunky jumper??



8 thoughts on “Sew Solidarity challenge

  1. Wow! That’s a great challenge to be part of. I hate the culture of disposable fashion that we live in, and I do try to buy quality items and make them last. But I couldn’t say with confidence where they were made or how fairly the workers were paid. I’ll check out my mending pile and see if anything is from Bangladesh, as that’s an obvious place to start. As for your sweater, it’s tricky to know what to suggest. Dye it, maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took me ages to go through my wardrobe and find something from Bangladesh. Just going through was an experience though. I have things from Turkey, Cambodia, Tunisia and China and I barely buy clothes anymore!

      Dying it could be an option. Other thought is a pair of slippers and a bag. Anyway its the thought (and blogging about it) that counts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I stopped buying throwaway clothes a few years ago, not because I was concerned about how garments were manufactured, but more so because I didn’t value things if I paid just a few dollars. Most of my really cheap purchases wound up at Goodwill (American charity shop) before the season was out.

    My husband works in manufacturing and we’ve seen how Walmart, in particular, slowly damages the economies of small communities and businesses with their ‘make it cheaper’ hammer – I could write essays on it. Bottom line is that I am willing to pay much more for an item made of quality fabric and durable construction regardless of country of origin.

    I don’t know if I’ll do the challenge but will take a look in my closet.

    As for your jumper … Could you make a shrug? I do like the idea of a pillow, bringing warmth and comfort for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I’ve bought cheap and cheerful clothes in the past and given little thought to the souls that created them. I’m not anti-markets but I am pro fair markets. Hope you can join the challenge.


  3. If you don’t have an idea for this jumper that you’re really excited about, I would leave it in the closet until the inspiration hits. You can still pledge to give it new life when it really needs it rather than throw it away. I’ve pretty much abandoned unseasonal sewing, and I just stash things until the appropriate season rolls around again and I can revisit it. Personally, I’d go the charity shop route for now. Then you’re saving two garments from potentially ending up in the garbage and you could have something you’d want to wear right now. I’d like to take this pledge, but I won’t be able to get anything done by the 24th. I do have some refashioning plans in the works for garments that would otherwise go straight to Goodwill, though. Have to look and see where they’re made.


    1. Good idea – my favourite charity shop is having a closing down sale and there are some amazing things going now. Time is my constraint like yours though. Even if you don’t get something done by the 24th help spread the word. Fast fashion is hopefully going out if fashion.


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