University of Bolton students are creating new lines of fashion out of donated clothing recycled by a homelessness charity – to go into a new spin-off competition to GBSB entitled The Great Emmaus Bolton Sewing Bee.

Emmaus Bolton supports up to 22 homeless people by providing a home, work and training through its many social enterprises off Fletcher Street in Bolton. They include stripping down donations into usable fabric and haberdashery at an onsite recycling centre. These items then go on sale at the charity’s scrap store of recycled arts and crafts supplies.

To assist art and design undergraduates, Great British Sewing Bee contestant Damien Wilton will visit students at the University of Bolton to give an insight into the competition. He will share advice with the undergraduates on how to turn fabric that might otherwise end up in landfill into fashionable and sustainable garments, such as dresses, jackets and shirts, with the very best invited to enter a fashion show and competition at the end of the course early next year.

Damien, who now volunteers at Emmaus Bolton, famously created a stunning denim dress out of scraps during Recycle Week for the show, which now takes pride of place in Emmaus Bolton’s Scrap Store that the local celebrity opened earlier this year.

University of Bolton’s Art & Design Foundation Coordinator Rachel Dawson said: “The fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter. If we can change just a few of the students’ shopping habits while raising money for this fantastic charity and raise awareness of the great art and design resources available from its scrap store, this charity project will have been a success.”

A total of 58 students are taking part in the art of learning how to deconstruct garments, create patchwork by hand and by machine as well as how to embroider, construct and embellish clothing. All items will be based on 60 bags of recycled fabric and dazzling haberdashery given to the students by Emmaus Bolton.

The workshops in textile and fashion launched at the University on December 8th  with a lecture from guest speaker, the Director of Emmaus Bolton, Tony Stephenson, who presented on throw away culture and the impact of recycling and upcycling for communities.

Tony said: “At Emmaus Bolton we’re more than just a home for formerly homeless people. Our charity provides an opportunity for beneficiaries to gain training and work experience in areas that matter most to the environment both here in Bolton and abroad.

“I’m very excited to share the insights we’ve gained since we started operating our recycle centre earlier this year, which involves not just deconstructing clothes, but stripping metal and upcycling furniture. The results have been amazing, with some fantastic items produced by our customers and volunteers that are on sale in time for Christmas.”

Emmaus Bolton’s second-hand shop and scrap store, is open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.

University of Bolton’s Art & Design Foundation Coordinator Rachel Dawson shows recycling centre volunteer Shirley how dressmaking is done.
University of Bolton staff check out our scrap store for recycled resources for The Great Emmaus Bolton Sewing Bee series of lectures