Wisconsin’s Donated Sewing Machines Empower Women Around The World

By Andy Soth | July 14, 2016


Margaret Jankowski sees a common thread between all the services provided by The Sewing Machine Project … making a difference in the community.

As a lifelong sewing enthusiast, Jankowski was moved by the story of a woman living in Southeast Asia who lost her sewing machine during a tsunami in 2004. In order to help the woman and others who depended on sewing machines for their livelihood, Jankowski founded The Sewing Machine Project in the craft shop that she worked at in Madison.

She asked customers to donate old and used sewing machines, which she then sent to people in need around the world.

“Sewing machines are so important to people. It’s wonderful when people know that their machine will have another chapter and that it will go to help somebody else,” Jankowski said.

After Hurricane Katrina, Jankowski drove to Louisiana with her daughter and delivered sewing machines to people affected by the storm. Today, The Sewing Machine Project still sends machines to the New Orleans community.

Aside from delivering sewing machines to those in need, The Sewing Machine Project also offers sewing lessons in Madison, particularly to those in underserved communities.

Jankowski and The Sewing Machine Project also host public mending sessions. Anyone with material in need of repair can attend a mending session and have their clothing fixed.

“When I’m mending something for someone, especially people that I’m just meeting for the first time, to me there is something almost sacred about it,” Jankowski said.

Jankowski believes that The Sewing Machine Project has mended more than just clothes though, but rather entire families and communities.

“Whether we are sitting at a table and mending things for people, or we’re sitting down next to someone who is learning how to use a sewing machine, I can’t help but think there’s some little bit of mending going on,” Jankowski said. “I think everybody has the power to do that.”

Andy Soth

Andy Soth

Andy Soth is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project who grew up in a neighboring state but now loves Wisconsin because it’s like Minnesota without the smugness. 
2018-05-02T21:57:40-05:00Tags: , |

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