A Mini Fashion Protest: Reading

Cast your minds way back to last Autumn, to a London Fashion Week held in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh and the Craftivist Collective and War On Want’s highly inspiring Mini Fashion Protest campaign.

Heavily pregnant and armed with my hand stitched mini protest banners, I headed to Reading’s bustling Oracle shopping centre, in the hope that my tiny embroidered words might make someone think twice about where the clothes they are buying might be coming from and who might be making them.

20140110-143404.jpg

This banner reads “Please show respect to the women who make your clothes. Let’s pay a living wage to all garment workers“.

20140110-143526.jpg
Exploitation: It’s not okay here, it’s not okay anywhere” This one was stitched not only in solidarity for those exploited abroad, but also in solidarity for many British retail workers who are paid minimum wage (not a ‘living’ wage) and have unfair working contracts.

One thing I have learnt about display mini protest banners is that it is hard to feel inconspicuous when putting them up there. My heart always pounds, my hands feel a little clammy. Add to the mix being eight and a half months pregnant (and unwisely wearing bright pink and red stripes) and these feelings double. Triple even.

But I really believed in this campaign and believe in conscious consumption, safe working conditions, fair wages, human rights and thinking about the environmental impacts of our consumer choices and we’ve not even touched on the emotive issues around child labour yet.

Maybe someone saw my stitched words by the Oracle riverside and briefly thought about some of those issues? Someone definitely saw them, as nearly five months later the cable ties holding my ‘exploitation’ banner to the bridge are still there.

Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops: A #minifashionprotest

Mini Protest banner at London Fashion Week AW 2012 Somerset House

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about ethical fashion, not only for myself, but also when I’ve been looking for clothes for the impending arrival of the Tiny Overlord. Many adult and children’s clothes seem to be made to meet fads and to be disposable.

Now I love my clothes, I see them as part of my self expression, but I don’t want my clothing choices to have a human cost. Millions of workers around the world suffer poverty wages and exploitation producing cheap ‘fast’ fashion for our shops.  In April, over 1000 garment workers were killed in Bangladesh when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, they were making clothes for major brands such as Benetton, Primark, Mango and Matalan. And this wasn’t an isolated incident – check out this shocking infographic.  But these unsafe working conditions are not the only issue associated with our love of fashion, there are also low wages, human rights abuses, as well as awful environmental impacts and we’ve not even mentioned the issues around child labour.

I don’t think people should have to suffer like this to provide clothes for my family and I, so alongside making ethical shopping choices, I’m going to be joining the Craftivist Collective and War on Want for a fantastic and beautiful #minifashionprotest.

Mini Protest Banner in Paper Dress Vintage Boutique

Regular readers of this blog will have seen the Craftivist Collective’s mini protest banners in action before, they are a wonderful way to make people think in a non-threatening way. This time I’ll be joining many other craft loving activists in making these beautiful eye catching banners and putting them in a public place for people to discover and to encourage people to consider the uglier side of fashion without feeling preached at.

Craftivist Collective mini banner kit

If you would like to get involved, it couldn’t be simpler: All you need is stitch a thoughtful and provocative slogan on to a small fabric banner and photograph it in a public place. Send your photograph to the Craftivist Collective and it will be included in an exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show’s Upcycling Academy in London in the Autumn, in the run up to London Fashion Week.

Not sure where to start? Then the Craftivist Collective have mini banner kits (pictured above) available here, there is also a video about how to make a mini banner here, ask the Collective (who are very friendly, especially if you are a bit shy – trust me!) a question on their Facebook page or check out where you can join other crafters to make your banners together at a ‘stitch-in’ here. Photos of your mini banner need to be with the Craftivist Collective by 5th October to be included in the exhibition.

I’m looking forward to seeing what we can create.

All photos in this post are by the Craftivist Collective.

 

More Pieces of the Puzzle: #imapiece

Have you been wondering about what happened to all those jigsaw pieces that were embroidered for the #imapiece project? Here’s a little update on what they (and I) have been up to lately…20130514-193224.jpgIn April I was honoured to be invited by Save the Children UK to attend a showcase of all the embroidered pieces (completed to date) for the #imapiece project. It was exciting and very moving to see all the pieces together, knowing that each one had been carefully embroidered by someone that felt so strongly about global inequalities and wanted to send a message to G8 to act.20130514-193405.jpg To see over 700 pieces together was really moving, knowing the time, energy and focused passion for fighting inequality that had gone in to each piece.

20130514-193344.jpg

I think this might be my new favourite piece, I love the play on words and its affirming message.

The showcase seemed to be really well received, people spent a lot of time reading the individual messages and admiring the whole impact of the jigsaw. It was a fantastic evening.

sarahcraftymag

Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective in Crafty Magazine

In more news, it is always a delight to see the lovely Sarah, founder of the Craftivist Collective, in her regular column for Crafty magazine. However, I got rather excited to see #imapiece featuring alongside her, especially because you can spot a lot of the pieces from our Reading Stitch-in in the picture. Fame at last lovely Reading crafters!

People holding the letters 'IF' in Hyde Park

But amongst all this excitement it could have been easy to lose focus on the reason we made the pieces and who their messages was ultimately aimed at. But when I went along to the Big IF rally in Hyde Park on Saturday, it was brilliant to see Save the Children UK showcasing some of the pieces and encouraging people to make some more. The Big IF Rally was timed to run alongside the ‘Hunger Summit’ that was held by David Cameron before the G8 meet later this month in Northern Ireland. It was wonderful to see the jigsaw pieces there as part of the rally, engaging people in thinking in the wider issues around food inequalities around the world.

#imapiece at the Big IF London

But #imapiece doesn’t stop there: If you are in Belfast this Saturday, there will be more #imapiece workshops at the Big IF Belfast.

And if you can’t make it to Belfast but still need some motivation on how and why you can get involved, check out the incredible work done by Anne Clark. A truly inspirational lady. I loved what Anne managed to achieve, it really makes you think about what more you can do yourself.

You can keep up to date with the #imapiece project with the Craftivist Collective. If you want to catch up on all of my personal #imapiece journey please check out my posts here.

The Stitch-in: #imapiece Reading

Craft. It’s often seen as a lonely and solitary activity, sedate and relaxing, an escape. And whilst it can be all these things, one of the beauties of the modern craft movement it that craft has become empowering, active, public and deeply social.

I’ve attended a few stitch-ins with the Craftivist Collective and I felt very strongly that I wanted to help spread the word about the #impiece jigsaw project, about inequality and about the impact the G8 could have on so many people’s lives. I really wanted to organise a stitch-in of my own, but as a new girl in a new town I wasn’t sure if anyone would come. But, with special thanks to Alabama Whirly, The Jelly Reading and RISC’s global cafe, on 29th January 2013 I nervously, but excitedly, hosted a stitch-in and the most wonderful group of local crafters met to sew beautiful, inspiring and motivating messages on jigsaw pieces…

The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading
One of the wonderful things about having a stitch-in in such a public place was, not only the conversations we had amongst ourselves, but also being able to talk about the project to other people. You don’t have to attend an event like this one to get involved  – you can still do it from the comfort of your own home – just have a look at all the details here.

A huge and massive thank you to everyone that came along, it was brilliant to meet you all and thank you for making me feel a part of my new local craft community. I really myself and hope you did too. It shows that we can all make a difference.


The #imapiece stitch in craft night at RISC Reading

(I’m linking my first stitch-in to Lakota’s Ta Dah Tuesday. Because it does make me feel kind of ‘Ta Dah!)

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race”

 Human on a bicycle protest banner

Today I needed a short break from jigsaw pieces. I’d made this mini banner a few months ago and decided to release it in to the big wide world.

Now I’m a little biased, but I think cycling gets an unnecessarily negative press. We are repeatedly told that cycling is dangerous, there is a danger of theft, that professional cyclists are cheats… People often overlook that cycling (in its many many forms) can be invigorating, beneficial for the cyclist and their surrounding environment, empowering and, most importantly, fun.

This mini-banner, displayed at Reading Station as a sign of respect for all the cyclists still traveling by bicycle in this cold weather, says ‘Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer  despair for the future of the human race’. The quote is credited to HG Wells, though there is some dispute about whether he actually ever said it. Either way, the sentiment remains.

Cyclists of Reading and the big wide world beyond, here at Little Stitch, you inspire us. We salute you and your pedal powered endeavours. More power to your pedals.

HG Wells Bicycle banner at Reading station

My mini banner kit came from the Craftivist Collective, you can buy your own one here.

Belatedly Christmas

The peculiar thing about keep a crafty blog is the difficultly sharing many of your crafty endeavours, with the risk that people will see what you are making for their present. So here, in late January, I am proud to present a Christmas post. Via some instagram photos, here’s what I was making in December…

IMG_0114

Stacks of christmas loot: Jams, chutneys, felt decorations and rosemary bags. The rosemary was harvested (with permission) from a nature reserve where I often run a project for work but I’m kicking myself for not also foraging some lavender. Next year, next year… The rather appropriate fabric is by Alexander Henry

IMG_0115

Everyone got their Christmas loot in these hand embroidered gift bags. The small hessian bags came from eBay and the crossstitch font and the idea for the bags came from Perri Lewis’s Material World book. I was also inspired by the famous Bloomingdales ‘Little Brown Bags’. Hessian is brilliant for cross stitch, I’ll definitely be using it again. The balsa wood decorations, which finished off the bags, were from Tescos.

IMG_0113

In the jars are Squash Chutney, made from homegrown squash (I swear by this chutney recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall). The beetroots were local and pickled at home and I also made delicious (trust me!) Tomato Jam, using this recipe from the Craftivist Collective.

And what did I learn about ‘making christmas’? Firstly, that next year I will start earlier. A lot earlier. I completely underestimated how long it would take me to embroider 9 bags and I was pulling late nights right up to Christmas eve. Secondly, that I will (if I can hide them from the Aussie) start putting jams and chutneys aside from summer onwards. As this will give me more variety to fill up people’s little gift bags with.

So over to you – What did you make at Christmas? Got any ideas I can steal for this year? I will start early, I will…

I’m a Piece of the Week

There has been a huge amount of crafting going on round here but, unfortunately, I can’t show you any of it online yet because it is Christmas presents for some of you out there (*gestures in your direction*).

But, despite my slovenly blog updating, I am extremely proud to be featured on the Craftivist Collective’s blog this week as their #Imapiece of the Week. So please head over to their’s to have a read about the Craftivist Jigsaw project and how I got involved in crafting and craftivism.

mewithjigsaw

Thanks to Sarah and the Craftivist Collective, I am ever so proud x