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How Scraps Of Fabric Can Transform Lives

How Scraps Of Fabric Can Transform Lives

How Scraps Of Fabric Can Transform Lives

The Journey Of A Purse

It may begin with a favorite quilt block, an assortment of scrap fabric, or an embroidery design. It may be an unfinished project that is repurposed, or an upcycled item of clothing. But every Sew Powerful purse has a personal story that begins with an inspiration and ends with joy in the hands of a girl in Zambia. This is the remarkable story of the Sew Powerful purse and the purse makers who convert that dream to reality.

Shared Language Shared Love

Women who sew, regardless of the country they are from, have a common language—the language of textile artistry. All have access to a sewing machine and a stash of fabric and thread. Some have a drawer full of supplies, and some have a room full or more. Some stitch away on vintage straight-stitch machines, while some have the latest and greatest computerized machines. The fabric and thread in the hands of these textile artists is enthralling to behold. A few pieces of fabric artistically combined become a work of wearable art worn proudly on the shoulder of a girl living in extreme poverty, treasured for its beauty and purpose.

The purpose is equally beautiful, for the finished purse also serves as a special gift, providing feminine hygiene products discreetly. With access to such supplies, they don't need to skip school and stay home for a week or so every month. Those missed days of learning can translate into multiple weeks a year and enough lessons skipped to prevent many girls from passing school exams and progressing with their education. A lack of education not only means a missed opportunity for learning, but it also translates into fewer job opportunities, lower wages when jobs can be found, early marriages, poorer health, and typically, a repetition of the poverty cycle. More and higher education means greater job opportunities, later marriages, fewer children, better health, and increased opportunities to rise above poverty.

The number of women and girls affected by these grim statistics are staggering. In Zambia, a developing country in south central Africa, the poverty rate is one of the highest in the world, with 64% of the rapidly growing population surviving on under $2 a day, according to Habitat for Humanity. In addition, the birth rate is high—between 4-6 children per woman, with women outnumbering the men. A heartbreaking reality for many children is that they are often supported by one parent, grandparent, aunt, or even an older sibling, due to the high incidence of death from TB, malaria, or AIDS.

The Path To A Brighter Future

The future for children surviving in poverty in Zambia rarely offers a chance to escape it themselves unless they learn a life skill that pays a living wage. That is the mission of Sew Powerful. “Sew Powerful is a Christian ministry that exists to employ and empower people to pursue life in all its fullness. We do that by creating purposeful products that change communities-things like school uniforms, reusable hygiene pads, soap, and farm fresh food.

In Zambia, we employ our team with good paying jobs. Everywhere else in the world, we ask our team members to serve as volunteers.” Sew Powerful Volunteers serve in every job position from executive leadership roles all the way down to volunteer purse makers.

The purse makers begin with a free downloadable sewing pattern, offered on the website. There are two versions of the free pattern, along with a number of free machine embroidery designs for flaps, and a variety of “hacks” for making the pattern out of fat quarters, quilt style cuts of fabric, and other creative ideas. How the purse makers create their own unique purses are up to them. Some purse makers take pride in piecing a variety of fabrics together in a patchwork style to make a purse. A few seamstresses offer up samples of the types of handmade purses that they sell in their own businesses. Many purse artists create quilted, embroidered, or otherwise embellished purses that are one-of-a-kind. Some use special machine stitches to decorate the flaps and topstitch the parts. All use a variety of trims, buttons, laces, ribbons, and appliques to make these purses beautiful. Each one is a unique work of art. Each one will be treasured by the recipient.

Hear the stories of three pursemakers:

Together We Are Sew Powerful

The types and processes for purse making are as varied as the artists themselves. Recently, at Sew Powerful we, have been encouraging seamstresses who have an interest in sewing together to form a chapter that meets on a regular basis to encourage each other, socialize, and sew. This highly successful venture has resulted in new chapters springing up weekly; there may be one in your area, and if not, perhaps you might like to form one!

Sew Powerful has also increased its online presence with monthly GoLives streaming on Facebook and YouTube, featuring the purses received during the previous month and the beautiful note cards that accompany them. These live streams not only serve to recognize and thank the purse makers and are also a source of ideas and encouragement for all.

In addition, Sew Powerful has featured weekly podcasts highlighting the many talents and wide variety of backgrounds of some of our worldwide pool of seamstresses and supporters. Everything from engineers to architects to athletes has been featured in these extraordinary podcasts.

Join Us Today

Interested in joining our team? It costs nothing to join, but it brings an invaluable return for your effort. Of course, monetary donations are always welcome, too!

You can make a difference in the life of a girl living in extreme poverty. Partner with us and learn the true value of giving your time, talents, and treasure to improve the world.

More About Peggy Creighton: Peggy holds a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles in the Library Media and Instructional Technology field. She retired from education in 2013, and now spends time sewing, quilting, crafting, writing, and enjoying her grandchildren. She serves as SE Area Manager for Sew Powerful and as an admin for the Sew Powerful Purse Project group on Facebook.

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