The Giving Challenge: The People’s Sewing Army

Two bright green plush elephants face each other, against a neutral background.
@notfancynancy’s contribution to The Community Transitional School, a school for homeless children.

What if you could be part of a movement that has saved 20 kilos (44 pounds) of scrap fabric from our landfills? What if you could join an army that has made 437 needed gifts, 437 moments where people were touched by a stranger’s kindness? And all of this is just the beginning?

An array of brightly colored squares made of many scrap fabrics, which were donated to the Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center.
@thriftina_nyc’s contribution to the Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center, a safe place for LGBTQIA+ teens.
Stuffed animals--a cat and a rabbit--made of various scrap fabrics are laid on a beige carpet. The stuffed animals were donated to The Community Transitional School.
@bakes90’s contribution to The Community Transitional School, a school for homeless children.

The People’s Sewing Army is a collective of sewists who make magic with their scrap fabric and bomb organizations in need. It’s by the people, for the people. Our mission: we reuse our sewing scraps for good causes. Our values: We love the planet and the people on it. 

A small quilt made of scrap fabrics is shown; the quilt was donated to The Portland Audubon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
@electic_farrell’s contribution to The Portland Audubon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a surgery and rehab center for injured wildlife.
A row of bow ties stretches across a table; there are many colors of ties. The bow ties were donated to the Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center.
@soapstealer’s contribution to the Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center, as safe space for LGBTQIA+ teens.

It’s simple to join. Just follow @thepeoplessewingarmy on Instagram. Missions are posted on the grid, and details are listed on the blog. If you decide to accept the mission, you use your scraps to make what the mission dictates. 

A pair of stuffed animals--foxes!--sit together against a black background. The foxes were donated to The Community Transitional School.
@cursesnocoffee’s contribution to The Community Transitional School, a school for homeless children.

Once your project is completed, you then mail it to the organization in need. You are responsible for shipping costs, however you decide what you can afford to ship. The power rests with you.

Four small scrap fabric flags sit against a white background. Two of the flags are the Pride flag, while the other two are the Trans pride flag. These flags were donated to The Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center.
@beckssews’ contribution to the Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center, as safe space for LGBTQIA+ teens.

And that’s the beauty of it: what you put into the sewing army is entirely up to you. You control when you want to participate. There is no obligation. You simply act when you are moved to do so.

Four small blankets are shown, stacked on a wooden surface. The blankets were donated to The Portland Audubon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
@foxthreads’ contribution to The Portland Audubon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a surgery and rehab center for injured wildlife.
A pink, white, and orange bow tie is shown, along with a matching pocket square. The bow tie and pockets square were donated to The Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center.
@encodedstudio’s contribution to the Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center, as safe space for LGBTQIA+ teens.

And without much effort:

you’ve moved an adult to tears;

made a homeless teen feel loved;

thrilled a group of children with their first toys;

caused volunteers to smile;

and embraced our beautiful planet.

A doll, made from scrap fabric, sits against a white background. The doll was donated to The Community Transitional School.
@sewingwitholives’ contribution to The Community Transitional School, a school for homeless children.

After all, making is magic. And giving is power.

Two stuffed teddy bears, one in light blue and the other in navy, are piled together on a white background. The bears were donated to The Community Transitional School.
@doobis71’s contribution to The Community Transitional School, a school for homeless children.

Care to join us?

An unoccupied cage at an animal shelter is shown, but it has a bird perch, food, water, and a liner quilt inside. The quilt was made with scrap fabric and donated to The Portland Audubon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
Volunteers love the new cage liner quilts for recovering birds at The Portland Audubon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a surgery and rehab center for injured wildlife.

To read more about The People’s Sewing Army check out our previous post — Sustainable Sewing: What to do with too much.


Denise Archer is the founder of @thepeoplessewingarmy. Her personal garments and projects can be found @pimp_slapped. Denise is always on the hunt for vintage Issey Miyake patterns.


Dear Reader: Our goal is to build community and make everyone feel welcome. We support crafting as an inclusive and welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders, orientations and sizes. Regarding sewing challenge themes, we ask that you take each challenge as you see it fitting in your life, and express your involvement how you like, at the given time. Our challenges are for the pure enjoyment of participation and the love of community. Extended Mission Page Here.