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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

Sewing bee celebrates Sustainable September with donation of dresses to Africa

Members of an Ayrshire community sewing bee have donated to children in Africa almost one hundred dresses produced from pillowcases to mark The Prince's Foundation’s Sustainable September campaign at Dumfries House.

Members of the weekly sewing bee sessions at the estate near Cumnock produced 74 dresses by upcycling pillow cases donated by individuals and groups throughout Ayrshire, with the stylish garments to be dispatched to those in need via the charity Little Dresses For Africa.

Dumfries House’s Sustainable September campaign will magnify the focus on sustainability as a common thread throughout all of its education offering. More than 8000 people last year engaged in programmes and workshops on the estate.

Ashleigh Douglas helps run the Tuesday sewing bee for 26 regular participants, who used their creativity to hand sew 89 unique dresses of a range of sizes to suit all ages.

"Our amazing sewing bee group started with the aim of making a dress each for donation to Africa, but, before we knew it, we had produced almost 90 dresses for Little Dresses For Africa,” said Ashleigh, Future Textiles manager at The Prince's Foundation.

“We’re delighted that our donation will kick off Dumfries House’s Sustainable September initiative in a really fitting way, showing that, with a little imagination and effort, you can breathe new life into items that, on the face of it, are no longer needed or usable.

"We started using pillowcases donated by sewing bee members but, as the project went on, they spread the word about the upcycling they were doing and community and church groups began donating more and more pillowcases. We introduced a template for the sewing bee group to follow, and they used a range of materials and different techniques to add embellishments and decorative features that make each dress unique.

"It's great to give back to an amazing charity and to put to good use the skills honed by members of our weekly community sewing bee at Dumfries House."

The Prince’s Foundation, formed last year as a result of consolidation of Dumfries House Trust and other charities, is headquartered at Dumfries House. The charity’s Future Textiles training initiative was established in 2014 to help address a skills gap in the industry.

The house itself was saved for the nation by The Prince of Wales in 2007 and is now used to help people engage in learning experiences that promote confidence and personal development, as well as offer training in real-life skills to open up future employment opportunities. Last year, more than 8000 people engaged in educational programmes at Dumfries House.

The Prince’s Foundation is now the second-largest employer in East Ayrshire with more than 260 full-time and part-time staff across the house, estate and education and training programmes.


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