Sew Confident Chorley: Getting green with the lean, mean sewing machines

Sew Confident Chorley's eco class in full swing
Sew Confident Chorley's eco class in full swing
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Fatbergs in the UK first burst onto the sewer scene in the early 2010s, coinciding with the proliferation in usage of disposable cloths in the form of things like make-up wipes, and earlier this year, the largest fatberg ever discovered was caught sludging its way along a sewer in Liverpool. It weighed 400 tonnes and was 250 metres long. It's still being broken up to this day.

Non-biodegradable solid matter is not only bad for the sewers, but bad for the environment. Aside from the fact that such products are thrown away and likely end up in landfills, they also leave a significant carbon footprint in their wake as a result of polluting manufacturing and distribution processes.

Sew Confident Chorley re-usable make-up wipes made as part of their new eco classes

Sew Confident Chorley re-usable make-up wipes made as part of their new eco classes

But, keen to show how things which are part of the fabric of modern life need not be so environmentally damaging, a Chorley sewing group are getting green.

Part of a national, award-winning sewing tuition franchise, Sew Confident Chorley on St George's Street is headed up by Dawn Elliot. Born in Fife in Scotland, Dawn moved to England at the age of 15, eventually becoming an office manager for an engineering company in Bolton before the urge to do something different kicked in.

Quitting her job, Dawn opened Sew Confident Chorley three months ago and hasn't looked back.

"It's gone really well," said Dawn, who lives in Westhoughton and runs the group with the help of 'nice little team' of four freelancers. "People who've come along have really enjoyed it."

Sew Confident Chorley

Sew Confident Chorley

Covering a wide range of haberdashery's myriad facets including everything from beginners’ tutoring and hand embroidery to quilts, soft furnishings, lingerie, dresses, and tote bags, Sew Confident is focused on reviving the tradition of hand-crafts in a warm atmosphere with like-minded people.

With people also embracing the therapeutic side of the venture, Dawn says she is 'absolutely loving' the change of career and while it is not easy, the job is wholly rewarding 'when you see what people are accomplishing'.

"I'm really loving meeting people and chatting to them - people say I'm dead patient, but that's what it's all about," explained Dawn, who was taught to knit by her mother and grandmother. "We don't want to be like the old-school home economics teacher who tells you off if your stitching isn't perfect. We're laid back - it's about the social aspect.

"A few people who have come to the classes have said they've had anxiety issues and difficulty getting out and meeting friends, and by the end of the class they're chatting to everyone," she added. "It's really rewarding: I've often been brought to tears by the odd message saying 'you've really helped me.'

"Having something to focus on when you're having a bad day, you need that. Be creative; do something for yourself."

Spearheaded by Colette Cameron, who works in Sew Confident's Glasgow branch, the group's new focus on eco-friendly crafting is set to be a hit with plenty already showing an interest. Classes will offer people the chance to crochet quirky plat pots from old t-shirts and make their own make-up wipes, kitchen roll, and tote bags as part of the Sew Sustainable programme.

"Colette's very into the environment and is always looking at how we can recycle, reduce waste, and reuse fabrics," said Dawn, 42. "A lot of people are more aware and are getting into reusing things and cutting down on waste, and we'll have classes where you can recycle and reuse to make quirky things yourself. People are into that sort of thing and want to give things they've made themselves as gifts.

"It's more personal," she said.

As well as tutoring the nimble-fingered crafty folk of Chorley, Sew Confident are also looking at doing something with Green Living Chorley, a group which is seeking to promote the benefits of an eco-friendly lifestyle, in the future. And with going green proving a hit, Dawn really is putting the 'sew' back in 'social'.

"I'm really enjoying the work, and I've got quite a few friends from it," said Dawn. "I'm absolutely loving it."