Case Study

Mission to Mend

mission to mend

In a disposable society, to repair is to rebelThe Economist, 2019

Mission to Mend has been an exciting part of the Celebrating the Stitch strand of WOVEN23, which aims to address pressing issues for people and the planet, drawing inspiration from the rich textile heritage of the area.

‘Make Do and Mend’ was part of the Government’s 1941 campaign urging people to repair, reuse and reimagine their existing clothes during Second World War rationing. And it is just as urgent today, when the need to keep clothing out of landfill and incineration is imperative! The average person is buys 60% more clothing than 15 years ago, while each item is kept for only half as long. Waste is prevalent in every part of the fashion and textiles industry, as a result of overproduction, overconsumption and problematic end-of-life solutions. The pressure is mounting on fashion brands and textile companies to lower their impacts on people, the planet, and animals. But we, as consumers and global citizens, also have an important role to play. 

Hosted across five locations in Kirklees: Golcar, Meltham, Mirfield, Holmfirth, and Heckmondwike, Mission to Mend brought together a series of hand sewing workshops for beginners in the communities, followed by a Repair Roadshow that celebrates local sewing talent, including community needlecraft groups, the textile industry and the nominated Stitch Heroes! 

Mission to Mend will continue to support a behaviour change across Kirklees over the winter of 2023. This programme has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with funding for Meltham provided by the Ashley Family Foundation.

repair roadshows

The team worked with community partners to run sessions in advance of the roadshows in 17 community venues. 

In all five areas we worked with community venues  including: 
Golcar Lily Day, Golcar Scout and Community Centre, Drop By Community Centre, Colne Valley Museum, St Johns Church, Heckmondwike Library, Morrisons Cafe, Rainbow Baby Bank, Unity Yard, Holmfirth, Holmfirth Co-op Cafe, Holmfirth Tech, Holmfirth Arts Festival, The Crossroads Centre, Meltham, The Fourth Fiend Taphouse, Meltham C of E Primary school, Kirklees Recovery College, Meltham

These sessions offered an insight into the local area, what people were interested in and how best to develop our Mission to Mend Roadshow for that area. 

The Mission to Mend Roadshows themselves were a wonderful opportunity to bring together like-minded stitchers and climate change activists, those interested in textile heritage and for those with no experience of stitch or textiles to try something new, meet incredible people with textile talents and learn something new. 

Roadshows were held at Meltham Parish Hall, Kirklees Recovery College, Mirfield, Heckmondwike Farmers and Craft Market, Green Park, Golcar Scout and Community Centre, Crown Bottom Car Park (next to Holmfirth Co-op). 

The programme could not have been possible without the help and support of community connectors, Councillors and wonderful support on the ground in each of the areas we worked in. 

Over the course of the programme we worked with a team of talented makers who helped develop workshops, demonstrations, talks and generally shaped the project with us.

facilitator biographies

Louise Goult – Textile Artist & Tutor
I am a textile artist narrating hidden stories and memories, protecting and honouring them through stitch. My work is conceptual and research-based using quirky facts. Materials are central to my work; it is essential that they further the narrative. I often select preloved or found items, considering who used prior to me and why.

Debbie Allsop – Lecturer in Fashion Design at the University of Huddersfield
I teach pattern cutting, manufacture, CAD, and textiles for fashion. My practice focuses on the creative skills involved in pattern cutting and clothing construction, considering how sustainable methods can preserve skills and promote the profile of fashion and textile careers.

Alison Morrish – Designer
I’m a multi-skilled designer with a passion for creating bold, colourful and fun designs that bring joy to people’s lives. With 25 years  experience of costume design and a love of travel, I have honed my skills as a freelance craft tutor, sustainable upholsterer and print designer, using fabrics made from ocean waste. My commitment to sustainability and creativity comes through in my work which I hope inspires others.

Kim Searle – Darn It! Workshops
I run creative workshops under the name Darn It! Workshops. I lead traveling sessions with a focus on sustainability, wellbeing and creativity. I strongly believe in the mental health and community building benefits of creativity. I studied Textile crafts at the University of Huddersfield with a focus on printmaking.

CarolAnn J Allan – Artist and Educator
I specialise in hand embroidery and my practice explores the importance of slow textiles and traditional skills; naturally dying fabrics and threads from mapping my garden. Sustainability is at the core; re-using fabric and threads for repair, mending and embellishment.  I have worked with various community projects in Yorkshire.

Katie Davis – Technician at Bradford College
I live in Mirfield and I have a BA Honers Degree from Leeds Arts University in Fashion Design. Went on to work as a Military Tailor up until my first child made me a mummy. I now currently work as a technician at Bradford College, which has nurtured my love for helping students with their sewing and pattern cutting problems. This has pushed me to venture out to see if this is something people want to learn or simply use me to improve their skills to get a more perfect fit.

Becky Davies-Downes – Professional Costumier
After 15 years experience as a professional costumier, I’m no stranger to making the odd repair. Having left filming behind, my work now focuses on the history and construction of clothing from 1940s wartime Britain, and on teaching sewing and mending with the ‘make do and mend’ scheme at its centre. 
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Ian Stevenson
I’ve lived and worked in Huddersfield, as a Building Consultant, right up to my retirement about 10 years ago. I have always had a great interest in local and family history and as a result have carried out a lot of family history research for The Huddersfield and District Family History Society members and in particular for some of our visitors from abroad who come to Huddersfield to see where their ancestors lived and worked. We call that “Ancestral Tourism” and many have ancestors with a textile link. I have also worked with “Discover Huddersfield” in the research and production of a walk and trail of the Lockwood area (Surprising Lockwood) and the research and production of the history of some of the theatres and cinemas of Huddersfield. (Greasepaint and Limelight Trail Act 2).

every child challenge

Our aim is to bring textile repair and mending skills to all for a more sustainable future. Every Child Challenge is part of our Mission to Mend strand and focuses on helping to teach young people essential textile skills.

In April 2023, WOVEN launched a social media poll to select the top five “must know” hand sewing techniques before leaving primary school. The most voted for techniques were:

  • Threading a needle & tying a knot
  • Running Stitch
  • Back Stitch
  • Sewing on a button
  • Sewing on a patch

In May of 2023 we made up and distributed 1000 textile repair kits to young people living in Kirklees. The packs contain materials and instructions to help children and adults learn hand sewing basics together so that garments can be repaired, worn for longer, and not replaced.

WOVEN has worked with Thread Republic CIC to develop an instruction leaflet and online film tutorials, providing step-by-step instructions for each of the five techniques in all the Every Child Challenge kits alongside the materials and equipment needed to get started with hand sewing.

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