Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge

“Buy less, choose well, make it last” is designer Dame Vivienne Westwood’s message.  With this mantra ringing in their ears, Cambridge Carbon Footprint is bringing the Sustainable Fashion Festival to St Barnabas Church on Mill Road on 17 November.


Clothing accounts for around 12% of global greenhouse emissions and is the world’s second largest industrial polluter.  As clothing becomes cheaper, purchasing of fast fashion has increased but 30% of the clothing in our wardrobes is never worn.  By choosing what we buy and wear with care, we can help to tackle climate crisis, environmental problems and exploitation of workers.

This Festival has a packed programme of events to help us towards a more eco-friendly wardrobe …..

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge AmaElla
Image credit: AmaElla

…..  a Pop Up Market and Fashion Show will include organic cotton lingerie and nightwear from AmaElla, socks which are guaranteed for 30 years from BuyMeOnce plus bags and accessories from Qhere who upcycle advertising banners and punctured bike tyre inner tubes into eco-friendly designs.


Sustainable Fashion Festival Qhere
Image credit: Qhere

…..  styling workshops with professional stylist Roberta Style Lee, founder of the Ethical Brand Directory.  You need to pre-book these workshops via the website.

…..  a panel discussion “Fashion the Future” with leaders from the sustainable fashion movement including the founders of AmaElla, BuyMeOnce, Petit Pli (who create ingeniously designed clothing that grows with your child) and Mamoq (a market place for sustainable, ethical clothing).

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge Petit Pli
Image credit: Petit Pli

…..  upcycling workshops so you can create a Christmas jumper.  Just turn up with your own plain jumper and they’ll supply the bling!

…..  a sewing themed Repair Cafe and Sewing Skillshare for repairs to clothes (best to book in advance to avoid a wait) or for one to one help with your sewing skills.

…..  a women’s wear Clothes Swapping Party, so bring along a few bits of clothing with accessories and shoes too if you like.

Plus you can get creative at the Kettle’s Yard drop-in and refuel at the cafe which will serve homemade cakes from the Cambridge Ladybirds WI.

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge Rakha
Image credit: Rakha

This is a brilliant free event for all Cambridge fashionistas and for anyone who cares about the huge negative impact that fast fashion has on the environment.  Full details of the day are on the website.

MAKE Cambridge Fashion School

Founded in 2015 by Kath Goodwin, MAKE Cambridge Fashion School offers fashion and textiles classes for children, teenagers and adults.  It’s based at The Cambridge Fabric Company on Peas Hill in the city centre, a shop brimming with beautiful fabrics, trimmings and sewing paraphernalia that I just can’t walk past without popping in!

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit:  MAKE Cambridge

The teaching area downstairs is a relaxed environment where no kit or prior experience is needed and students of all ages can master design and sewing skills.

Kath Goodwin MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

Kath set up MAKE after a long career in the fashion industry.  At the age of 9, she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer and indeed, can’t remember a time when she didn’t sew, learning the skills from her mother and grandmother seemingly by osmosis as she grew up.

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

After art college and fashion design studies, Kath worked her way up in the industry, learning the ropes as a Design Assistant at Coates and, following a move to Cambridge for love, setting up her own collection “Pure Design Studio” with help from the Prince’s Youth Business Trust.  Her label’s clubbing and rave fashion sold well here and in Japan.  Sponsored by the Fashion Council, Kath showed at London Fashion Week as a next generation designer before continuing her career with retailers including Top Shop, Tesco (she was in the design team that set up the F&F label), House of Fraser and Arcadia.  Travelling all over the world for work was exciting but by now, Kath had a young family which led her to rethink her work/life balance.

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

Kath has always loved to teach.  She’d enjoyed working with students on industry placements and internships and had also taught part time on the Fashion and Textiles Diploma at Cambridge Regional College.  She wanted to teach in a holistic way, with students learning how to design, measure, cut a pattern, select fabric and sew their own clothes, creating a piece that is totally bespoke to them.  So Kath set up MAKE on a shoestring, starting with after school classes for children that were full from the start, just by word of mouth and the magic of Facebook.

Three years on, Kath has expanded the range of courses, taken on more teachers and launched a new timetable of fashion and textiles classes for children, teens and adults, with a mixture of daytime and after school term time slots.  More workshops are being planned, including making children’s clothes, screen printing T shirts and upcycling vintage clothes.  And you can book MAKE for your hen party, baby shower or children’s party (from 8 years old) plus Kath offers bespoke courses for companies or groups in and around Cambridge.

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

So whether you’re wanting to design and make your own clothes, create beautiful soft furnishings for your home or give your kids the sewing skills that just aren’t taught in school any more, check out MAKE’s Facebook page for up to date course news and email Kath to ask about availability of spaces.

Facebook:  @makecambridgefashionschool


The Cambridge Fabric Company, 7 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PP



Mindfulness of Nature

Cambridge has so many wonderful green spaces and I love to see the small day to day changes in nature as I walk through them en route to the city centre.  Whatever the weather, it feels good to be connected to nature and to be aware of the turning of the seasons.

Last week, I met with Claire Thompson, who is running a range of Mindfulness of Nature courses, aimed at connecting us with the natural world through our senses and emotions rather than our thoughts.  “This in itself is therapeutic.  It’s not about solving a particular problem,” Claire says.  “It’s about enhancing our experience of life itself and exploring different aspects of what it is to be alive.  We’ve forgotten that we’re part of nature and if we don’t spend time in nature, we’re disconnected from something innate.”

Claire T headshot
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Born in England but raised and educated in France, Claire came to Emmanuel College here in Cambridge where she read Natural Sciences, graduating in Zoology, with her particular interests lying in animal behaviour alongside conservation of nature and plants.  During a gap year pre university, Claire worked in Andalucia, Spain, which not only improved her Spanish but gave her a love for the warmth of the culture with its passion for life.

Subsequent summer breaks were spent volunteering on a nature conservation project centred around Pucon in the Chilean lake district, an area of volcanoes, rivers, mountains and temperate rain forest.  This time in Chile had a profound effect on Claire and has shaped her career and well being.  It fuelled her desire to spend time in wild places and to work in nature conservation.  In her late teens, like many of us Claire had experienced anxiety and she found this time in the wilderness amidst the beauty and power of nature, together with a growing interest in mindfulness, liberating.  It calmed her anxiety and gave her a greater sense of purpose.  “Mindfulness gives you a choice as to where you put your attention,” Claire tells me.  “You are not your thoughts.”

After graduation, Claire volunteered in Mexico on a bird monitoring project in a nature reserve.  Returning to England, she worked in Suffolk for World Land Trust (an international nature conservation charity) before moving to Cambridge, where she works part time as a Project Manager with Bird Life International, co-ordinating a project supporting Mediterranean NGOs in their efforts to address illegal killing of migratory birds in the Mediterranean.

Claire T group in meadow
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Claire has also authored two books.  In 2012, she was commissioned to write “Mindfulness in the Natural World” for Leaping Hare Press as part of their series of books on mindfulness and last year saw the publication of her second book, “The Art of Mindful Birdwatching.”

Claire T Byrons
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Upcoming courses in and around Cambridge include “Introduction to Mindfulness of Nature” workshops at Byron’s Pool in Grantchester, “Introduction to Mindful Birdwatching” at Wicken Fen Nature Reserve and evening “Meditations in the Meadows” on Stourbridge Common.  In May, Claire will lead a three day retreat “Rewilding the Mind” in Snowdonia, North Wales.  Further afield, Claire is holding retreats and workshops in Austria (East Tyrol), the US (Rhinebeck), Argentina (Patagonia) and Chile (Chilean Lake District), the place where it all began for her.  Details of all these and more are on Claire’s website.  In a world where it’s easy, in the hustle and bustle of every day, to live as if we’re separate from nature, here’s a chance to reconnect.  I think we owe it to ourselves to take the time to stand and stare.