On 13th September 2022 we turn a whopping 10 years old!
You’re all warmly welcomed to celebrate with us at our birthday party on Sat 17th September.
For each of the ten days running up to our 10th birthday, we thought we’d look back and share a year of our history. Stretch the ol’ memory muscle, why not!
Today, is year 0…
Stitched Up’s six co founders met in 2011, some introduced by mutual friends and others finding each other on Twitter, where we espoused our shared passion for clothing, style and sustainability.
After a year of working together as a collective, we made it official and registered as a co-operative in 2012, with a mission statement that we remain true to to this day. We ran pop-up workshops and clothes swaps across Manchester and beyond, including a very fun weekend of upcycling workshops at Shambala festival.
We 2012 was also the year we decided to find a way to create a permanent space to host our activities. The search for a premises began!
After a frantic month of painting and building, we excitedly opened the doors to the very first HQ at 517 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, in January 2014.
From this space we started taking donations of surplus, secondhand fabric and selling them on for creative reuse, and sold upcycled clothing and accessories made by talented local designersWe created our first public programme which included workshops like Pass Your Sewing Machine Driving Test and Upcycled Undies, our first Yard Sale and first Clothes Swap at our *own* venue. The programme also included events and talks, crafternoons, a Knit-A-Thon for the Wool Against Weapons campaign and a Mind Craft event celebrating the benefits of craft for mental health, raising funds for Mind.
In April 2015, we had queues around the block for our Fashion Revolution clothes swap and in May, were honoured to host a talk by the inspiring labour activist Kalpona Akter.
A few months later, we moved into a new home – just around the corner. Our new space was more peaceful, being tucked back from the road, and better still was all on ONE LEVEL, meaning no more lugging sewing machines and sacks of fabric up and down the stairs. However, it had no retail space so we could no longer sell upcycled clothing and fabrics.
Instead, we put our energies into our workshops and events programme, adding more great things including pattern cutting and upcycling projects. We continued to travel around Manchester too, running swaps and even dabbling in wearable electronics at some workshops with Madlab!
We spent the end of the year making ‘Scaff Bags’ bags for Unicorn Grocery, upcycled from plastic mesh used to wrap their building during renovations, which were a sell-out success!
In 2016 we created a Stitched Up fashion collection of repaired and reworked clothes, which were shown alongside some amazing sustainable designers at the Big Green Fashion Show.
We started Manchester’s first Repair Cafe in Chorlton and started our love affair with Shibori indigo dyeing with a workshop from the maestro Flora Arbuthnott.
We were commissioned to make some upcycled décor for the wonderful Real Junk Food Project and to transform old event banners into bags for MMU.
A crowdfunding campaign got us a custom bike trailer, made from recycled materials by our long-time friend and collaborator Alfred @ Maker_Of_Things. We used it to spread the joy of upcycling and repair at community events across the city including Envirolution and Trouble At Mill.
In 2018 we had a lovely visit from iCOOP, one of Korea’s consumer co-operatives’ federations, and hosted the first of many Knit Your Own Socks courses.
We took part as a team in the Big Sleepout to raise money for the Booth Centre, and braved the Six Items Challenge for a second year too, in aid of Labour Behind the Label.
We worked on a couple of great projects in 2018 too. The DRESS Project was a collaboration between The Horsfall, MMU Fashion Institute, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and Stitched Up. We worked with a group of young women from Wythenshawe to generate a creative response to ideas about how society expects women to dress.
With the Booth Centre sewing group, we created a collection of handmade garments featuring embroidery and applique detailing. We held a photoshoot of the collection at HOME, where the resulting photos were displayed.