The Sewing Basket of today has a strong fan base amongst those who enjoy sewing, knitting, crocheting and craft.

The stores in Newington and Balmain in Sydney and Kincumber on the Central Coast are hives of activity – before and after COVID successive lockdowns.

Supported employees and volunteers enjoy helping customers make selections from the 100% donated stock of fabrics including vintage pieces, patterns, patchwork, embroidery materials, threads, knitting and crochet yarn, and more.

Business even stayed buoyant during lockdowns as craft and sewing was more popular than ever and the stores held online events.

How we got started

Today’s successful social enterprise started as a fundraising idea back in 1998 from Don and Jo McKerrell and some friends.

The couple wanted to create an annual fabric and needlecraft sale to raise funds for Crowle Home in Meadowbank, a residence and school for people with disability run by the Crowle Foundation. The couple’s daughter Vicki had attended training courses at Crowle.

The McKerrells talked to other parents and their contacts to source stock to sell. They received a huge boost when a fabric store closing down in Eastwood donated a large amount of stock.

The first sale was a great success and many more followed each year for a decade generating more donations as well as loyal customers.

In 2008, a dedicated shop called the Fabric Cave and Needlecraft Emporium opened at Crowle House. In 2009, the Crowle Foundation merged with the Achieve Foundation to create Achieve Australia. Two years later,>store moved to a larger site in Meadowbank and was re-named >Fabric, Needlecraft & More.

Eventually the venture was renamed The Sewing Basket and job roles were for people with disability to work alongside knowledgeable volunteers..

Incredible donations kept rolling in including materials that had passed through many generations. Donating is often a way for families to honour a loved one by sharing their love of craft and sewing with other enthusiasts.

In 2017, our volunteers were named Volunteer Team of the Year Midwestern Sydney Region at the NSW Volunteer Awards. And in 2018 the shop moved to more contemporary premises in Newington. A pop-up shop started in Balmain was replaced by a permanent store in 2019.

In 2020 a new store and adjacent sorting warehouse opened in Kincumber on the Central Coast. The Kincumber shop and 400 square metre warehouse created 20 volunteer roles and 25 paid roles for people with disability.

In 2021 there were more successes with wonderful online sales and events keeping customers engaged in periods of lockdown.

Read about what it’s like working at The Sewing Basket

Meet Amanda who loves being part of The Sewing Basket Team and was a finalist in our employee awards of 2021.

Nathan enjoys creating fashion displays, meeting new people and making new connections and colleague

Read about Yasmin who loves sorting, pricing and morning tea with colleagues

Studio 10 visits The Sewing Basket

A couple of our teams were even visited by morning media programs. ABC breakfast radio visited the Kincumber store to interview supported employee Allan and the Studio 10 television show dropped in on our Newington store to spend time with the whole team there.