Quilt project helping cut old clothes out of landfill

Waipukurau initiative is also teaching life skills






Achance conversation in a local library has sparked a Waipukurau project that’s keeping kilos of fabric out of the landfill while teaching skills and warming hearts and bodies. CHB Libraries staff member Karen Tobin was at Te Huinga Wai — the Knowledge and Learning Hub — in Waipukurau, chatting with CHB Community Op Shop manager Nicola Freyer about the amount of donated clothing that was worn out or damaged and couldn’t be sold. Nicola started the op shop in March, with a strong intent to keep as much used clothing as possible out of the landfill and get it out into the community where it was needed. The holed, worn or stained items that could not be sold needed a new purpose, she said. Karen was aware that the Waipawa Op Shop was repurposing their damaged items as quilts for Operation Cover Up . . . maybe Waipukurau could do the same, she suggested. In the background, Neen Kennedy, founder of The Sustainable Ewe, pricked up her ears. This was in line with Sustainable Ewe’s ethic of recycling, growing food and sharing resources. She’d had a similar conversation or two with Nicola, but now a solution was taking shape: quilts. Last week Central Hawke’s Bay Libraries, Sustainable Ewe and the CHB Community Op Shop launched Repurposed Remnants, and a call has gone out for the many hands it will take to make it into a well-oiled machine. Repurposed Remnants has a job for just about anyone: Used clothing is bagged and sent out to volunteers to be washed and dried. The bags are then available to take home — or volunteers can get together at the Sustainable Ewe room in Racecourse Rd — for the unpicking process. The unpicked fabric is then ironed and cut into A4-size blocks — or half or quarter A4. Then it’s sorted into boxes and then the pinning and sewing begins. Volunteers can put their hand up for any job from washing and drying to cutting and pinning. Sewing can also be done at home or on sewing machines that are available at Te Huinga Wai-the Knowledge and Learning Hub in Waipukurau. The Sustainable Ewe room is also being set up with donated sewing machines and overlockers. No experience is needed, say the organisers. The sewing is in straight lines only and people will be available to teach sewing skills. As the garments are deconstructed the buttons, zips and fastenings are being sorted and saved, and will be available for reuse. Once sewn, the quilts will be filled with used blankets or duvet inners and backed with old sheets or duvet covers — anything of the right size will be repurposed. Working bees will start at Te Huinga Wai in Waipukurau on July 4 from 10am-2pm and the Waipawa Library on July 7 from 10am-2pm. “Come in for an hour, come in to look, come in for the whole session,” says Karen. Donations of thread, pins, scissors, sewing machines and overlockers are being eagerly sought, as well as old sheets. The finished items will be donated back to the CHB community through the CHB Community Op Shop, Warm Homes CHB and available to any support agencies. Inquiries to Karen Tobin at CHB Libraries or Christine Renata at Warm Homes CHB — phone CHB District Council on (06) 857 8060 or the CHB Community Op Shop, 5 Cook St, Waipukurau, and also on Facebook, or The Sustainable Ewe on Facebook.