Sew and Tell: A Free MENDing Library

Wendy Becktold   Sierra Club


“Around 12 years ago, a friend and I were walking by an abandoned alley in San Francisco, and she asked, ‘If you could do anything with this space, what would you do?’ I had just found this old treadle sewing machine, so I said, kind of impulsively, ‘I would set up my sewing machine and just sew for the neighbors.’ 

“Somehow the stars aligned for this strange idea. The Luggage Store, a nonprofit art gallery in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, offered to let me use the alley next to them. I sew from noon to sundown on the 15th of each month.

“Eighty percent of the people who show up live in nearby low-income housing. I hem a lot of pants and patch a lot of holes. But I don’t say no to anything. Once I sewed a little pink dog collar. Often people sew with me–grandmothers who are losing their vision and can’t thread the needle anymore, people who live in cramped apartments and don’t have a sewing machine.

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