The Made Up Initiative Launches


Ever bought a sewing pattern during a lunch hour, only to be surprised when the envelope drops onto your mat? It’s easy to spend money without thinking. Ever wondered if that £5, £10, £15 or £20 could be put to better use? Welcome to The Made Up Initiative!

Made Up logo iiLast December, I retreated to the Isle of Wight for a week of rest. I should have been switched off, zoned out and concentrating on myself. But as I tramped the beaches with a small dog, I thought a lot about sewing. There’s a palpable, almost physical ball of energy in the sewing community. This has been put to a lot of good use to connect with each other, build businesses, launch projects, raise profiles. I felt that this energy could be put to an even greater use, and that’s why I’m here today.

NLT_SupportingBadge_60Together with Love Sewing magazine, I’m launching the Made Up Initiative in support of the National Literacy Trust. Did you know that one person in six in the UK lives with poor literacy? Some children never have a parent read to or with them. Many households can’t afford books. Literacy can be a game of luck, and it’s a game with high stakes. It can make or break lives. With the help of my fellow creatives, I’d like to sway the odds.

I’ve set us a simple goal – to raise £1,000 in a month-long fundraiser, hosted at a Justgiving page. To give us some context, if less than half of my Bloglovin subscribers each donated £10, we’d raise over £40,000.  A person could easily spend £10 on a metre of fabric, that might go straight into a bulging stash cupboard, and probably end up donated to a fabric swap. Food for thought, eh?

So, let’s have fun! We have until 10 September to show the world what we can do.


How does The Made Up Initiative work? People can visit the Justgiving page here and donate an amount of money. (Two friends already have!) When you donate, leave a comment stating your self-set challenge. I don’t care how big or small it is. You can pledge to make a napkin or tailor a jacket, knit bomb your street or bake a cake. There’s no limit to what you make – it doesn’t have to be sewing or knitting. The point is, you’re making something to support Made Up.

Prizes! If you successfully complete your make by the deadline of 10 September, you’re automatically entered for a prize giveaway worth more than £300. All you have to do is blog about, or email me details of your completed project at didyoumakethat[at]fastmail[dot]fm. The winner will be randomly picked and the prize includes:

  • £50 voucher from The Village Haberdashery
  • Copy of the Aster pattern from Colette Patterns
  • A place on Tilly and the Button’s Learn To Sew Jersey Tops online workshop
  • All seven paper patterns from Sew Over It (for UK residents. For applicants outside of the UK, the patterns will be provided as PDF downloads.
  • Ten sewing books donated by Love Sewing. These will include Learn To Sew with Lauren Guthrie, Alabama Chanin Sewing Patterns, Sew Over It Vintage by Lisa Comfort, Quilt Me by Jane Brockett and Skirt A Day by Nicole Smith.
  • with more prizes to come!

Deadline? 10 September, 2015. We all have a month to make, starting today.

Oh no, I don’t have time to make anything. Hey, why not just donate some money anyway? It’s for a really good cause.

Stay Connected If you want to keep up on what your fellow Made Up Makers are doing, and behind-the-scenes details on how the Initiative is progressing, you can join my new Facebook page.


There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll save that for other blog posts over the coming month. Prepare yourself for blog buttons, surprise extra gifts, new mini-goals and prizes, inspiring interviews, thoughts around creativity and literacy and – oh, yes! What am I going to make? I’ve set myself the £10 challenge of completing the vintage Vogue 5098 I first blogged about over four months ago.


I have no idea if I can sew this dress in a month, but I’m darn well going to try. I want to help others love words as much as I do, and if I can do that with a sewing needle I’ll feel pretty darn proud of myself.

Do you want to feel proud, too? It’s easy. Become a Made Up Maker.

Justgiving page

Facebook page


You can see all the launch details in the August edition of Love Sewing magazine, available at all major supermarkets and WH Smith stores. With thanks to them for their support.

This entry was posted in knitting, sewing, sewing and knitting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

106 Responses to The Made Up Initiative Launches

  1. Hila says:

    Kewl bananas! Count me in. Off to look at my stashes.

  2. ohhyellow says:

    Great initiative, Karen! I’ll have to think carefully about what I could complete in a month – something worthy of the challenge, but not too ambitious!

  3. Sophie says:

    Hi Karen, this is a great idea, such a good charity to support, thank you for organising. As a sewer and the English lead in my primary school who regular uses the charity’s resources, I shall definitely be taking part! Sophie

  4. gingerella says:

    Oh this is such a great idea! The number of people living with poor literacy is sad; we can definitely put our love of sewing towards supporting such a good cause. It is amazing how much committing to a deadline and a challenge can strike such fear though. I mean, sure, I can make a dress in a day for a party I have that same evening but actually setting a challenge?! That is somehow scary! But I’m going to do it! My £10 pledge is to make my first pair of proper trousers using Simplicity 1696 Amazing Fit trousers, and hopefully they’ll be a pair which actually fit, amazingly!

  5. Miriam says:

    Karen you have such an amazing reach in the sewing community and I Love! That you are challenging us all (and making it fun). Literacy his very dear to my heart and I will gladly support your cause and set myself a challenge, here’s to far in excess of your goal. Wildly applauding you from Australia.

  6. Becca Porter says:

    This is such a great idea! I spent my childhood with my head buried in books, so to help others have the same opportunity and also make something pretty is a win-win 🙂 I pledge to make my first coat – the lovely Sewaholic Robson.

  7. JaneyB says:

    I bought a pattern yesterday lunchtime without a second thought so this certainly struck a chord. Off to make my pledge right now.

  8. Thimberlina says:

    Brilliant idea! I’m in! 😀

  9. lovelucie1 says:

    I’m in too! I’ll use something in my stash and donate the value. Great idea!

  10. LOL- i just started my halloween costume planning and fitting a pattern for a dinner party in early octoboer! here’s a push!

  11. Kristy says:

    This is brilliant, and I have just posted a new blog post about the cost of sewing and how I want to track it so this is a perfect challenge for me!

  12. I’ll be making Christmas gifts. I hope you don’t mind that I shared this on my blog. I love this idea. Consider yourself hugged by a fan!

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  14. TamsinW-P says:

    What a great idea Karen! I am never without a book and all my girls enjoy readiing too. My primary school PTA have spent the last couple of years raising funds to restock the school Libary and provide newer titles for each year group. It has been very rewarding seeing the childrens happiness when they have a whole new range of books to enjoy!
    I am going to have to think about my donation/challenge – I am in the process of dealing with breast cancer at the moment so need to pick my challenges carefully – but I will be supporting this very worthwhile cause.

    • Hi Tamsin – I’m really sorry to hear about the breast cancer. I am sending you all my love and hugs. (And I give very good hugs!) The beauty of the Made Up Initiative is that your self-set challenge can be as big or small as you decide.

  15. Alice says:

    Excellent idea! I’ll try to find some time to make this happen.

  16. Alessa says:

    What a fabulous project, Karen! I’ll head right over!

  17. Heidi says:

    This is lovely. I will be making a quilted table runner–my first quilted project.

  18. Bobbi says:

    I just started working after several years of unemployment and lots of people helped me out. This sounds like a great way for me to start paying it forward – and motivate myself to make something on the “to-do” pile. Besides, everyone should be able to read Harry Potter!

  19. Elle says:

    My grandfather worked in a bookstore after his retirement, and brought a book for me every time he visited, beginning when I was a chew-the-book baby. A life-long joy!

  20. cherrymade says:

    Fantastic initiative and so inspiring! As an avid reader, I can’t imagine a life without words. I have just started a love affair with sewing so this pledge is perfect for me. I have spent the day setting up a blog (a challenge for a techno no-no like me) and to start it will be part of my pledge. I’m so excited to have a place for chaotic thought and sewing techniques. Thanks for the inspiration x

  21. This is brilliant. I love to read and I love (learning to) sew, so this fundraiser is perfect! Now, what shall I sew….?

  22. Christine Underwood says:

    A brilliant idea! I love reading, and have often thought I’d like to help others get enjoyment from books. I also enjoy sewing, so it will be good after years of only making necessities, to sew something for me.

  23. What a fab idea. I am in. Books have meant so much to me my whole life. I can’t imagine life without them and how hard it must be not to have good literacy skills. Karen, such a fabulous thing for you to organise. Xx

  24. LLADYBIRD says:

    I’m in! I think this is an awesome idea and I can’t wait to see what everyone makes 🙂

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  26. This is such a wonderful idea. I’m in, just thinking about what my challenge will be. The written word is so dear to me, and the magic of books should be something all can enjoy. Love this initiative. xx

  27. Louise says:

    I’m going with boring but practical – work shirt(s) from Butterick 5526. And not because I fall asleep at my desk as I’ve stayed up all night to finish a book…. I need new shirts (and have done for over a year). This is a brilliant idea and it’s great to see how many people are already joining in!!

  28. Just the incentive I need to get busy on a 1776 costume I need to have done for an October event that I started months ago and then ignored before the bodice was finished. Thanks!

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  30. Books were my friends, always, I only ever felt lonely when I had nothing to read. Champion idea, I’m in.

  31. coolarama says:

    What an amazing thing to do. This means a lot to me. I’m dyslexic and have just started a blog to force myself too practice writing and get over the fear. For me a ‘quick blog post” can take a whole day!! I never managed to read a whole book until my late 20’s and struggled to read my children bed time stories. I didn’t pass my GCSE English until I was 27!!!
    Count me in.

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  33. Linda Wilson says:

    My daughter just started her dream weekend job in Waterstones. She devours books, imagine not having that joy of the written word, just in everyday life, that we take so much for granted! Count me in.

  34. Gill says:

    I’m in – I pledge to make a dress to wear at the Christening of my new great-niece, Grace Elizabeth Linda – and, as her godmother, to keep her provided with books and me-made frocks!

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  41. Trixie Lixie says:

    We would like to add a Trixie Lixie knicker kit to the prize list!

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  53. craftycreeky says:

    As someone who seems to hoard both books and fabric, count me in 🙂

    • mpostings says:

      You and I have a lot in common hardly room for people in my house any more only fabric and books. I thought getting via kindle might help but handy as it is it’s just not the same

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  57. Jan Carr says:

    Not quite the last minute which is when i usually do things but for this brilliant challenge will be making a replacement patchwork ‘mug hug’ i lost my first one festival volunteering in July. Karen, I have NO IDEA how you do all of this – am humbled.

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  67. Catching up on my blog reading post holidays so I have pledged post make, sure you wont mind (and I did both make and pledge in the correct timeframe). Great idea, thanks for setting it up.


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