How the travelling sewing box is changing lives

Photo by: Sebastian Vidal Bustamante

When I first came up with this project, my intention was simple: To provide a safe and warm space for Latin American immigrant women in NZ to tell their stories, to share their journeys of migration and to sustain their language while stitching their  memories into a piece of cloth that keeps growing and extending.

What I didn’t expect was to witness the transformation that would take place within the group and within the women themselves as the project evolved from week to week. I know first hand that when you arrive in a  new country, no matter the surrounding circumstances, you are forced to evolve, develop and review your position in the world. In my case this generated a main shift in my own identity which created a horrible sense of dislocation, disengagement and an identity crisis which took me many years to overcome. This project gave me the opportunity to make other women’s journeys a little bit better and to share my own story of migration with them.

It was very moving for me to witness all the energies in motion as these women stitched their lives into our cloth. It was very moving also to experience that the stories and memories which were being stitched were creating new memories as the craft process was happening, and in doing so, new connections were being made, new processes were being learned and new possibilities were being conceived in front of all our eyes.

It was a privilege to work with these women, it was a privilege to work with ALAC and its wonderful team and a fantastic start to the cloth that will keep extending, will keep growing and will keep travelling as the travelling sewing box project travels from city to city in NZ and beyond!

Meet the amazing group of Latin American immigrant women from Hamilton, NZ. Wow, what a fantastic, talented and committed group of women.


The group working together, connecting individual stories into a bigger community piece.


Profiling emerging sustainable fashion designer Sofija Butler

Sofija Butler

For sustainable fashion designer Sofija Butler, clothing is about reconnecting the lost lines of connection between designer, maker and user, and between user and garment. For her graduating 2017 Masters collection (Masters of Fine Arts specializing in Fashion Design and Sustainability, Whitecliffe College of Art and Design)  Sofija fully explored the area of what really makes the user engage at a deeper level with a piece of clothing. This is how she did it:

Collection name: “At the Edge

Sustainable design strategy: Emotional Durability; meaning clothes that will be cherished, loved and cared for by the user, creating lasting connections between user and garment.

Process: “At the Edge” required a shift in the usual design thinking process. A prototype collection was created and handed over to be worn by a small group of knowledgeable fashion users who shared their feedback. They reported on how wearing their chosen garment affected them on several levels, in relation to their emotional, physical and general well-being. This feedback was used to create the final collection which was designed with empathy in order to generate clothes with real emotional durability.

Transparency: Inherent to her slow design process is the development of a transparent supply chain which has seen Sofija sourcing materials from Guatemala, USA, China and New Zealand.

Materials: Up-cycled denim waste from Guatemala, G.O.T.S ( The Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton  from USA, ethically woven silk from China and 100% New Zealand wool, processed within the North Island and overseen by Sofija herself.

Where to buy: The collection will be available to pre-order via from mid-January.

Marmoreal Jacket $1229, Marmoreal Trouser $639

On-shore silk dress $639

One of a kind Oyster Jumper NZ wool $700