By Deb Court
    Make it, mend it!

    It’s one thing to dash into a shop and buy a shirt. Its so much more rewarding to make one shaped to fit you and made in a fabric that you have chosen. It’s a joy.

    I learned how easy it is when I started attending classes at the School of Sewing and Upcycling in Footscray. Under the patient guidance of Gaye Naismith I gained skills and confidence. I still attend SOSU classes. There is always something new to master and of course, I enjoy the company of fellow sewists. 

    Gaye Naismith is a Footscray local who started the School of Sewing and Upcycling ‘SOSU’ in 2015. Gaye’s first studio was a shopfront in Buckley Street Footscray. The shop window was filled with an enticing display of beautifully stitched clothes from recycled fabric. I was inspired. 

    The school has since grown and expanded its range of classes. It is now located at 9/131 Hyde Street Footscray. Gaye and a team of four fabulous teachers all share their expertise with students.

    Gaye is a self taught sewer and has been a dedicated textile recycler and op-shopper for many years. She starting with making and selling her own products made from recycled textiles. She was invited to run sewing workshops around Melbourne before starting her own sewing school. At the same time there was a groundswell of interest in patterns from independent clothes designers and a wish by many to move away from fast fashion. People were also becoming more conscious of the devastating environmental impact of fast fashion. Gaye regards sewing as a life skill. We all wear textiles and anyone can sew, she says.  Gaye finds inspiration in passing on her knowledge to others. 

    SOSU is accessible to everyone and is promoted as being gender diverse and for all ages and skill levels.   The SOSU teachers all share the  guiding principle of sustainability which is reflected in the choice of classes – using what textiles you have, repairing the clothes you have and appreciating the skills required to make them. Of course, this includes modifying that gorgeous op shop shirt you know would look great if only the sleeves were shorter.

    Some things you might learn at the School of Sewing and Upcycling are learning how to operate a sewing machine, tracing a pattern from a garment, fixing op-shop finds and mastering essential sewing skills. You can learn how to make a tote bag, a cushion, how to insert a zip. Classes are for beginners and experienced sewists. All classes run to school term times. 

    Gaye finds great pleasure in seeing a student complete their first project whether it’s a face mask, a zippered pouch or a shirt. They are so chuffed and filled with a sense of achievement, she says. Its the wonder of turning a flat piece of fabric into a three dimensional object. It’s also the wonder of turning cloth that has already had a useful life into something to be used and cherished all over again. 

    You can find out more from the

    Photo is Gaye with the SOSU teachers Mel , Jo, Gaye, Zoe and Ali in the SOSU studio.

    Photo by Clare Martin Lapworth 

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