Top Notch Sewing Centre

by Caroline in Orpington, England, United Kingdom


raised of £1,500 target
69% 14 hours left
Flexible funding – this project will receive all pledges made by 30th March 2020 at 1:00pm

Anyone can sew! Come along and learn a new sewing skill, hire a sewing machine, join a social group, and make something unique!

by Caroline in Orpington, England, United Kingdom

Welcome! When the concept of Top Notch Sewing Centre came to me, I thought, “So many people would like to learn how to sew and customise or repair their clothes, but they don’t have a sewing machine or can’t sew”. I aim to satisfy this need  by starting a sewing centre where people can learn to sew, advance existing knowledge and hire a machine without having to buy one. In Orpington there are no fashion fabric shops or places to learn to sew.  

I have a degree in fashion and 20 years of experience but I need support to get my business off the ground. That’s where you can help! I am privileged to be part of a competition by Crowdfunder & Natwest in their “Bring it 2020” campaign to encourage women in business, where great prizes can be won for the best ideas & most backed businesses.

I am lucky to have always known what I wanted to do in life; I wanted to work in fashion! Born in Zimbabwe & raised in Zululand South Africa, one learns to be thrifty & my mum taught me to sew as a child. This was essential as I never found what I liked in the shops! As a teen I would make my own clothes or customise what I had, and went on to study fashion. I always dreamed of coming to London, and by luck or talent I won a fashion show which gave me that step up; a ticket to London! 

Since moving to the UK in 2000, I have worked predominantly as a pattern cutter for high street stores, as well as a designer and garment technician. As a pattern cutter, I  work with designs & body measurements to ensure clothing fits correctly and looks great.

Six years ago I began freelancing to give me some flexibility for my family. I also have heart for Mother Earth, charity & community, so I thought what better way to encourage the local community than by sharing my skills? Sewing has a proven track record of being good for the soul and mental well-being.

How Sewing Can Support Your Mental Health- BY LYDIA SMITH, a UK-based journalist, says this:

Loneliness has huge implications for our health, and social isolation is growing in the UK, with 2.4 million adults feeling lonely, according to the Office for National Statistics. Joining a sewing group is a good way to meet people. Creating something with your own hands provides a sense of accomplishment that can boost mental health.

Also, here is a fantastic article by Sumaiya Ahmed, an immigration attorney with a non-profit organisation in New York City. How sewing improved my mental health — and restored my professional ambitions:

Anyone can sew!

You don’t need to know how to sew and you don’t need your own machine! Classes will teach how to use a sewing machine, to sewing basic items through to more complex clothing, as well as pattern adaption. One-to-one tutoring will be available, as well as having an expert on hand if you want to hire a machine for your own projects. Clients can also customise clothing, recycle textiles & buy sewing patterns and ethical fabrics.

The Sewing Centre is aimed at anyone wanting to learn to sew. It will be a way to socialise, learn new skills, make your clothing fit better and last longer, or just to make something totally unique!

Clare Hunter writes in "Threads of Life: a History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle". The calming effects of sewing can help people express and heal themselves: There have been many studies exploring the relationship between creativity and well-being: the benefits, particularly for those suffering from mental illness, of the mesmeric immersion in crafts as a relief from inner turmoil. I know for myself that it is what I turn to to cope with anxiety and at times, grief - published by Hodder & Stoughton.

Tape-measures will become your newest accessory!

As my business is in the early stages, I would need to invest in stock and machinery for clients to use, which is the aim of Crowdfunding. I need to raise money to ideally buy 4 more sewing machines and 2 overlockers, at the cost of £200+ each. I also need to purchase a stock of sewing patterns and fabrics for my customers to buy, as well as fabrics to use in the classes and workshops. I have already contacted wholesalers, focusing on British based businesses and eco-friendly suppliers.

I will be starting the Top Notch Sewing Centre from my home in Orpington, Greater London, and I hope to progress to have a retail space with a cafe area, fabric shop and fully equipped workroom. I also plan to have a website with fashion & sewing blogs and a gallery showing what clients have made. This however will only come when finances permit.

I hope that my business will inspire you to invest in me, and I would love for you to join the Top Notch sewing community locally or online, and please share with friends and contacts!

You may check out my work on my Instagram and Facebbook pages, linked at the top, or @ topnotchsewingcentre. Previous work is also featured @ topnotchpatterns via social media.

Here is a video of some dressmaking done for clients, including wedding dresses, and uniforms for Baker Girl Beauty salon in Bromley, Greater London.

How will the money be spent?

I aim to spend about £800 initially on 4 sewing machines & an overlocker. 

I will spend £350 on basic fabrics and trims to be used in classes, with eco-dressmaking fabrics and trims to sell. 

Another £350 will be spent on sewing patterns for clients to buy for classes or personal use. 

When will Top Notch Sewing Centre open?

The sewing centre aims to open in early May 2020, with social sewing groups starting in April 2020. 

Where do I find a time table of classes?

Time-tables will be posted on Facebook initially or you may request one via email. Hopefully a website will follow in the near future where timetables will be shown. 

Can I take a sewing machine home?

Unfortunately no, the machines are available to use on the premises only, where you will be given a tutorial of how to use them and have help should you need support.

How do I book?

You may send a message via social media or email to attend a social group or class, or to  book a machine to hire by the hour.

What if I have allergies?

I do have a cat (though she is a rescue and will usually keep her distance). Please inform me of any other allergies when booking any classes. When snacks are provided then gluten-free and veggie options will always be available!

Please feel free to leave a comment, message me on FB or Instagram, or email Caroline at

Thank you for your support...


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£30 or more

3 of 6 claimed

Sewing workshop voucher!

A £30 donation will get you a free sewing workshop! These are intensive sewing classes where you will get to make a customised outfit, including a pattern which you keep.

£5 or more

Feature on my pages and personal review!

A £5 donation will get you or your business a feature on my Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages, as well as a personal review. All details need to be supplied so I can give accurate information including links.

£5 or more

1 hour free machine hire!

£5 will give you 1 free hour to use the sewing machines and facilities at Top Notch! Tea & coffee included...

£10 or more

0 of 10 claimed

10% off!

A £10 donation entitles you to a 10% discount on patterns or fabrics for sale!

£15 or more

0 of 20 claimed

Customised tote bag!

Donating £15 will earn you a limited edition tote bag; your new bag-for-life!

£40 or more

0 of 4 claimed

Sewing Book!

A £40 donation will get you a free sewing book from those in stock. Any of the books stocked by Top Notch will guide you through sewing or patterns, suitable for beginners to more skilled machinists.

£199 or more

1 of 4 claimed

Fund a sewing machine!

If you are able to fund a sewing machine, you will get your name/ company name on a plaque on the machine itself, as well as free use of the machine at Top Notch! The machines I am looking to purchase are the Janome J3-20. Thank you in advance.

£200 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Fund a basic overlocker

If you are able to fund a basic overlocker you will get your name/company name on a plaque on the machine, plus free hire of the work room. Thank you in advance.

£269 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Fund a gathering overlocker

If you are able to fund an advanced overlocker with gathering foot, you will get your name/ company name on a plaque on the machine itself, as well as free use of the workroom at Top Notch! The machine I am looking to purchase is the Janome 9300DX overlocker.

Let's make 'Top Notch Sewing Centre' happen

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