mending communities, one sewing machine at a time

Where We’ve Been

The Sewing Machine Project is now working on a local, national and international level. We are proud and deeply honored to have impacted so many lives in so many regions.

Madison, WI

Here in Madison we work with underserved populations, offering sewing machines and basic sewing lessons. We began by working with newly arrived Bhutanese refugees, teaching sewing skills and offering machines as a tool to earn an income. Currently, we are working with Hispanic clients teaching valuable sewing skills. Students learn basic sewing and after completing the basic class and paying it forward they receive their sewing machine to take home. Students pay it forward in a variety of ways including helping in other classes as mentors and translators as well as making items for the community center to use for other clients (last semester students made fleece hats for the Center’s homeless clients). It is our hope that we can use this curriculum as a model to serve other populations in the Madison area and eventually in other areas of the United States.

New Orleans, Louisiana
The Sewing Machine Project has been a part of the New Orleans landscape ever since March, 2006, shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. We have delivered over 800 sewing machines to the greater New Orleans area, to individuals, schools, and community organizations. Additionally, we have delivered several machines to the Mardi Gras Indians, helping them to keep their colorful history alive.

Gees Bend, Alabama
In October 2007 and again in October 2012, we delivered sewing machines and fabric to the quilters of Gees Bend, Alabama. We are honored to assist the quilters in the production of their beautiful art quilts.



Sri Lanka
In 2005 the Sewing Machine Project sent 25 sewing machines to orphanages in Sri Lanka, offering the children a tool to learn a trade and the caretakers a tool to make clothing for the children.



We have donated machines to the ranchos La Joya and  La Cruz del Palmar in San Miguel de Allende in  the state of Guanajuato in the central highlands of Mexico. Up to 84 women work out of the cooperative, sewing goods to sell and support themselves. The women are gradually seeing the completion of a new sewing center on the Rancho where they live and once completed, the SMP will supply machines for their sewing center.

In 2009 we delivered 19 machines to Skenderaj, Kosovo. 16 of these machines were donated by Bernina, International of Steckborn, Switzerland. The Antigona NGO of Skenderaj will use the machines for custom garment sewing as well as to train new sewers to add to their group. There are so many war widows in this region and we are pleased to be able to help them to become self-sustaining through sewing.

We have shipped machines to the Apne Aap group in New Delhi, India. Apne Aap means “on our own” and this fine organization empowers young women by teaching sewing skills so that they will have a reliable source of income to keep them out of the sex trades.



Florence in LiberiaLiberia
SMP machines have gone to help a women’s technical school which offers a new tailoring program. They graduated their first tailoring class in 2011.


IMG_4958El Salvador
Habitat for Humanity workers hand deliver SMP machines to the “Strengthening the Community” project in the Getsemani Community in Ahuachapan, El Salvador. Sewing students are creating items to sell to support their families.



Mayan families sewingGuatemala
Our most recent international shipment was to Panajachel, Guatemala, arriving in February, 2013. 83 machines made their way to the Mayan Families group whose mission is to “Educate, Feed, Shelter, Heal”. They have a sewing program that just keeps growing as students learn new skills for supporting their families and communities.

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