ReMode’s ‘Garment Workers Solidarity quilt’ was worked on collaboratively across a series of 8 workshops. It is currently up for raffle (ending 5th Nov!) All funds generated through the raffle will be donated towards ‘No Sweat’s’ Garment Workers Solidarity Fund, supporting striking garment worker union campaigns in the Global South (you can read more about No Sweat further down).
TO ENTER THE RAFFLE –
Please make a donation (minimum £5) through the ReMode PayPal (www.paypal.com/paypalme/ReModeRenfrewshire) with the reference ‘NO SWEAT QUILT’. Please support generously where you can! Each person may only have their name in the raffle once regardless of the donation amount. At the deadline we will randomly select a winner who will be sent the quilt (we will contact you through your email used for PayPal). The total amount fundraised will then be sent straight onto No Sweat!
More on the Quilting Workshops –
In the workshops we were inspired by radical and community quilting projects. For example, the Redwork quilts – through displaying hyper-intricate red-stitch signatures of sponsoring small businesses – fundraised for social causes important to their makers in 19th century North America. And contemporary quilters, Jess Bailey and Meadhbh Corrigan, who have used quilts to materially support ‘Land in our Names’ (a Black-led collective committed to reparations in the UK by connecting land and climate justice with racial justice) and the Glasgow Prisoner Solidarity Network (a small of people working inside and outside of prison to get support to those inside who need it most).
We wanted to make a quilt that connected our sustainable textile work in Paisley to those struggling and working at the sharp end of the globalised fast fashion industry to produce the world’s clothes: largely women textile workers in the Global South. Part of making this quilt was to acknowledge our relationship to them as sewers in the Global North and propose a relationship of solidarity rather than passive consumption. It was also important to create something that could tangibly support garment workers. These funds will support trade unions to have a greater democratic voice in managing their workplaces, fighting to be free from boss and supervisor harassment and to keep the wealth that they produce for their own communities.
As for the quilt itself, the fabrics are predominantly vintage ones donated to ReMode in years past – it is still possible to spot embroidered motifs and jacquard weaving in the patchwork. To create the pastel colour palette of red, purples, yellows and greys, the fabrics were naturally dyed using varying mixes of madder, logwood, pomegranate rind and coffee. Bamboo wadding was used to give the quilt warmth, and finally sashiko thread was used for the quilting stitches. The quilt is made up of many different traditional patchwork designs: sawtooth star, inverted star, pinwheel, checker squares and one very intricate 8-pointed star made of 64 tiny triangles!
We worked collaboratively for 8 weeks to make this quilt. The group was multigenerational and included some seasoned quilters and some who had never quilted before, allowing many skills and expertise to be shared throughout. The process was slow, intricate and thoughtful – from cutting out all of the squares and triangles, piecing them together and scrutinising how closely aligned they were, to hand sewing the final binding. Our attention moved from place to place through conversation and story sharing, but was necessarily always brought back to the placement of stitches, the movement of fabric, the combination of colours and figuring out the often complicated patchwork.
One of my favourite moments was watching the group deeply contemplate the final arrangement of all the square patches we had made. Some felt more drawn to a scattering and unordered composition so long as the colours felt evenly distributed. Others felt we needed a more orderly and methodical placement. We settled on an arrangement we all happily agreed offered continuity, balance as well as surprise – a very satisfying moment! As we got closer to placing the final quilting stitches the sense of pride and accomplishment at the beautiful quilt we had created together with our hands was amazing.
Many thanks to all those who worked on the quilt – Tracey Brown, Denise Childs, Evy Craig, Rae Halliday, Marina Logan, Leòdhas Massie, Jack Patton, Julia Robb and Lorna Ventry.
More on No Sweat-
“No Sweat is an anti-sweatshop campaign group that runs its own wholesale blank T-shirt company as a way of challenging the large corporations who talk a big game about ethics and sustainability, then carry on the same exploitative practices against people and the planet that have been continuing for decades.
For over 20 years No Sweat has campaigned in solidarity with garment worker trade unions around the world, helping them to build their power to fight for their rights. Global brands have a long history of outsourcing their garment production to countries in the Global South where wages are low and trade unions face oppression. By shining a light on exploitation these workers face and protesting agaisnt the corporations responsible, we can help workers change things.
A few years ago, we developed a new tactic in the struggle, challenging the brands on their own turf. We created a non-profit wholesale company that imports 100% organic cotton T-shirts that are made in factories recommended by our trade union comrades in Bangladesh, factories where they have a strong union presence and a collective bargaining agreement. We then put any profits we make into our Garment Workers Solidarity Fund and send money out to trade unions around the world that are fighting against sweatshop labour.
So far, we have donated to workers in Bangladesh who faced a loss of income during the Covid lockdown in 2020; to trade unions in Myanmar that were outlawed and forced underground; and to trade unions in Haiti that are fighting for a $15 a day minimum wage. These are all in factories that produce clothes for some of the giant T-shirt companies that we now compete against – so while they exploit the workers that make their T-shirts, we use the money made from our T-shirts to help them fight back!
Some people call this ‘ethical fashion’, but that term is so overused it has virtually lost all meaning. We don’t do ethical fashion, we do solidarity fashion.”