Local Non-Profit Ragfinery Taps into Sewing Revival


Submitted by Ragfinery

Sewing, along with the “resourcefulness mindset,” while mostly absent from the average household for a few generations, is making a comeback. The reasons for renewed interest in the needle and thread are widespread — from a desire for self-expression to being able to create clothes that fit well, to hit television shows like “Project Runway,” and a handful of environmental, economic, and social justice concerns.

Locally, the non-profit organization Ragfinery is tapping into that growing trend. With a shop full of donated fabric, scraps, and garments along with a calendar full of workshops to help crafters learn what to do with them, Ragfinery is banking on Bellingham’s creative bent and environmentally responsible leanings to create a successful business model.

Sewing Bootcamp at Ragfinery is a great way to develop a useful skill and fun hobby. Photo courtesy: Ragfinery.

“As far as we know we’re the first non-profit of our kind in the US,” says Ragfinery Manager, Shan Sparling. “At the heart of it all, though, is getting people on sewing machines.”

Sewing Bootcamp

This February, Ragfinery offers its first installation of a new “Sewing Bootcamp,” where students learn the basics of sewing by upcycling old clothes into new items. The class is held over three consecutive weekends and is taught by veteran seamstress Brigitte Parra, who also designs and creates many of the upcycled garments and bags for sale at Ragfinery.

“Once people learn how to use a sewing machine they get hooked,” Sparling says. “We get more and more people coming through our doors who have realized they can have a fun and satisfying experience making high quality and affordable clothing that really expresses their personal sense of style.”

ReUse Works (the parent organization of Ragfinery and Appliance Depot) Executive Director, Duane Jager, created Ragfinery two years ago using Appliance Depot’s successful “jobs from waste” model.

Ragfinery sewing workshops
Sewing Bootcamps are set for February. Contact Ragfinery to learn more about the workshops and how to sign-up for an upcoming class. Photo courtesy: Ragfinery.

“Essentially, we’re tapping into the waste stream to create jobs, support the local economy, and protect the environment,” Jager says. “The textile industry is the second most polluting industry behind oil. If we can get folks to create and mend their own clothing, that’s a huge success.”

Ragfinery accepts clothing and fabric donations that are then either repurposed into upcycled items or sold by the pound to local artisans. All sales support job training for transitional populations, which happens on-site.

If you have questions about Ragfinery’s workshops or community endeavors, call 360-738-6977 or visit Ragfinery.com.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email