World Refugee Day And Our Work With ‘Our Common Threads’

With World Refugee Day today, Wednesday 20 June, we are keen to share with you some of our work that highlights how passionate we are about recycling and upcycling, as well as an organisation that does so much to help others.

Darwin Community Arts organises free weekly sewing and textile craft events, known as Our Common Threads, for women of diverse cultures and abilities.

The program evolved from My Sisters’ Kitchen, where refugee women from many cultures came together to cook and to share their food culture, with the aim to get them to meet other women in a similar situation to themselves and to become part of their new community.

In 2014 the women wanted to sew instead of cook and Our Common Threads was born. The program has grown to 3 weekly workshops for women of all cultures, ages and abilities. A diverse range of women attend, from refugees and new immigrants to those in the first few years of resettlement and from numeracy and literacy programs.  

Women also attend who are dealing with or recovering from mental illness, trauma and domestic violence. Some are disabled physically or intellectually.

Subtly, Our Common Threads helps women overcome social isolation, lack of confidence and shyness in speaking English and helps them bond in a creative, friendly, supportive environment.   

Materialised are passionate not only about recycling and repurposing offcuts and samples of fabrics but also about supporting worthy causes and finding charitable applications for unwanted fabric samples.

We send bundles of fabric so that they have plenty of material for their sewing classes and it is truly wonderful to see how they are repurposed into clothes and soft furnishings.

Their most recent new arrivals from Syria, Iran and Afghanistan wanted to make things for their new homes like table clothes, curtains, cushion covers, bed covers, bags and aprons. Even with their very limited English, many women have been taught to sew. It is very special to see women settle into their new lives and make friends with women of all cultures and religions and see their English and sewing improve.     

Through donations of fabrics and machines they have recycled, reused and upcycled many materials. Funds are raised through selling items at markets and pop-up events as well as raffling items and offering commissioned workshops.

“Much of the gorgeous contemporary fabrics donated by Materialised were made into cushion covers and bags, which sold out at our first market stalls in late 2017.” Dixi Joy Bankier, Darwin NT.

We encourage you to donate your samples to this fantastic organisation by contacting Dixi.

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