A ‘baker’s dozen’ of girls in Fiji will soon be wearing brand new, handmade dresses sewn by attendees of a parish-based group who themselves are benefiting from making the garments.
Thirteen shift-style dresses are being made by members of Create, a weekly craft-oriented friendship group that meets in a sunny corner of the hybrid hall-church facility at St Aidans in Bryndwr.
“It’s like a support network for younger mums and the older people [who come] get to catch up with the younger ones,” says Create’s instigator, Sharon Button, who coordinates the group and provides some informal tutoring.
Up to 14 people in their early 30s to retirement age come along each week to learn craft-making skills and make a variety of projects. To help parents to concentrate on their handiwork, any pre-schoolers are kept distracted by toys and volunteer child-minders!
For the past month Create has been focusing on making the dresses, which are part of an international project to provide clothing for underprivileged girls.
“The craft is the vehicle for the social side of the group,” says a co-helper, Tracey Hastings. “I mainly help with the kids and cups of tea – not so much on the creative side!”
Since starting the group a year ago, Sharon has been enabling people to learn new skills, such as how to use a sewing machine, and make creative projects such as book covers, paper craft, gingerbread cookies, microscope-slide necklaces, snow-people out of socks, and card making.
“We try and mix it up a bit!” she says. “I keep projects quite simple. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere: you’ve got kids playing. It’s very stop and start!”
Sharon is a part-time vet nurse and mother of three. She got the idea for Create about 2 years ago and put forward a proposal to St Aidan’s vestry, who gave their endorsement.
“I was getting the ‘wee nudge’ [from God] saying now’s the time to get out of my comfort zone to do this,” she says.
Start-up funding came from the local community board and enabled the group to buy two sewing machines, an iron and ironing board, and other supplies. Some craft supplies are offered to attendees who can’t afford them.
Although numbers of people attending the group ebb and flow from week to week, Sharon is encouraged by the developing sense of connection and the reactions of people when they complete a craft project.
“I see how proud they are of their finished product – they think they never could have done that in the first place and now they’ve got there.”