The Sewing Basket has a host of loyal followers from across NSW, Australia and is even known internationally.

Customers arrive in store on the hunt for that something special, unique or exceptional for their latest sewing or craft project. This social enterprise with a difference also has a rich history that goes back twenty years.

In 1998, when a fabric store in Eastwood closed, the remaining stock was donated by Diana Oakley to Don and Jo McKerrell. Over the years, Don and Jo’s daughter, Vicki, had attended school and training at Crowle Home for children with disabilities. 

Don and Jo McKerrell with daughter Vicki

Don and Jo McKerrell with their daughter, Vicki.

As part of the annual fundraiser to support the school, Don and Jo rallied together with other parents to create a special needlecraft sale from the donated stock.

Word quickly spread throughout the community and enthusiasts came from far and wide on the hunt for unique fabrics, patterns and handcrafts.

As more people heard about the sale, further donations poured in and the community began contributing from their own needlecraft collections.

“We’ve seen remarkable collections come in over the years that showcase the lifelong passion of people’s handcraft,” said founder of the original fabric store, Jo McKerrell.

“Our volunteers would treasure the items that were donated as some materials had even passed through many generations. It was a way for families to share a loved one’s craft with other enthusiasts and honour their creative work,” said Jo.

By the time of the second annual sale, there was so many donations coming in, and the sales so successful, that a larger shop was fitted out at Crowle to keep up with the increasing demand.

Following a merger with The Crowle Foundation and Achieve, a new retail shop opened up in Meadowbank in 2013 dedicated to fabric, needlecraft and more, which later became the name for the shop.

Today, The Sewing Basket has been modernised and transformed at a brand new integrated site in Newington and at another shop in West Ryde.

It still, however, operates under a similar model as it did all those years ago by relying solely on donations and support from the community and it is still run by a group of dedicated volunteers, like Don and Jo were for many years.

“We arrived from the country in 1964 to Crowle Home to help our daughter Vicki and it is without doubt one of the most incredible parts of our lives to see the advances and benefits for people with disability over the years,” said Jo.

The Sewing Basket also provides employment for people with disability who work alongside our experienced volunteers in the shop.

This provides supported employees an opportunity to earn an income, improve their workplace skills, and engage with the community.

The Newington and West Ryde shops are now open and donations to The Sewing Basket are gratefully accepted from Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm via the loading dock at the rear of the Newington premises.

Copyright © 2018 Achieve Australia

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