The Giving Challenge: The Sewing Basket (Mini-Interview)

I live, work and sew (not necessarily in that order) in Sydney, Australia. A while ago, one of my friends asked if I had been to the new sewing shop in my suburb (you have no idea how excited I was).

It turns out, the new shop was a “pop-up” version of The Sewing Basket. I had heard of this place — a fabric shop stocked with donations, with an aim to support the employment of people with disability. It was hard to work out whether I was more excited to have a great reason to de-stash and donate, or about the fact that I could buy fabric in walking distance (we all know which one it was really…).

I cruised along there one Saturday and came back with a pretty reasonable haul. I offset that by giving them back a whole bunch of fabric that someone else will be very pleased with — I had bought it on a whim, or a long time ago before my tastes settled and was just never going to use it. It felt great to give it away but to somewhere with a purpose.

Two people wearing pink aprons stand looking at a ticket inside a shop.  There are knitting needles in front of them and fabric behind them.  A sign with The Sewing Basket logo on it is in the background.

When we embarked on the Giving Challenge, I knew a quick interview / article about the Sewing Basket was on my to-do list. It’s such an amazing enterprise and a great way to give back while indulging in fabric: win-win!!

This was an email interview, so there aren’t “voices” like usual, just a few questions to explore the concept and how it works!

1. How did The Sewing Basket start? 

This social enterprise with a difference also has a rich history. It began with a donation of fabric in 1988, when a local shop closed, to be sold as part of an annual school fundraiser. From there it grew into a shop, a second shop and now a pop-up.

The Sewing Basket also provides employment for people with disability who work alongside experienced volunteers in the shop. This provides supported employees an opportunity to earn an income, improve their workplace skills, and engage with the community.

There is more information on the history of The Sewing Basket here: https://achieveaustralia.org.au/a-treasured-collection-of-fabrics-and-wares 

2. What are the main aims of The Sewing Basket and how are they realised? 

The Sewing Basket’s aim is to provide supported employment for people with disability, offer local volunteering opportunities for enthusiasts and supporters, and supply our donated fabrics, patterns, embroidery stock, and haberdashery, plus more. We are a sustainable shopping solution for our customer while providing people with disability the opportunity to live a full life in the community.

3. Are there future plans to expand or alter the concept? 

At The Sewing Basket, we currently have three shops located in Sydney: Newington, West Ryde and an Inner West pop-up shop in Balmain. We hope to further expand our social enterprise and offer even more opportunities for people with disability in the future.

4. What is Achieve Australia (the organisation behind The Sewing Basket)?
Achieve Australia is a for-purpose community organisation that has been providing services and support for people with disability in New South Wales since 1952. Our passion is social inclusion for people with disability and our purpose is to build extraordinary lives, supporting people with disability to be well, have a home, choose a career, learn new skills, participate in the community and enjoy a full life.

Achieve Australia offers a range of essential services for people with disability and their families, including community living and drop-in support, short term accommodation and respite, community and lifestyle services, wellbeing, employment, and support coordination.


Thanks to Heidi from Achieve Australia for answering the above questions for me! Is there anything like The Sewing Basket where you live? Do you have charity shops or organisations that take donations?


Chloe is a Sewcialists Editor, who lives and sews in Australia. She blogs at chlo-thing.com and can be found on Instagram here


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