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Our Producers

Our producers are the heart of Common Thread. Our members and other community organizations refer people to us who have experience sewing or who want to participate in Up To Speed, our sewing training program. We meet with new sewers to get a good idea about their hopes and concerns so that we can work together on making their participation a success.

Our teacher and coach provides basic, intermediate and industrial sewing training. She also coordinates production with other members of the management team.

Our production system is flexible and accommodates people’s preferences and strengths.

  • We coordinate a series of operations by participants to make our unique products. Some of our producers do one or two operations; other make complete items from start to finish.
  • Sewing class graduates thrive in the factory-type setting in our corner of The Flag Shop.
  • Some people in our network like to work in a team; others prefer to work on their own.
  • Some people like to work at home.
  • The members of the Afghan Women’s Sewing and Craft Co-op have their own workshop and complete Common Thread contracts there.

Our people and their stories ... 

In her own words here is Umi’s story.

I have a mental health challenge. For example, when I am watching TV or reading, I can’t concentrate. Before Common Thread, I looked for a job for two or three years. I tried volunteering four hours at a time, putting things on shelves, but I was so tired I couldn’t walk properly. I worked at MacDonald’s for over a year, but it was too busy for me. I couldn’t find anything.

My employment counselor at the Mental Health Team told me about Common Thread. We looked at the website and it seemed pretty neat. I met with Jenette [from The Kettle’s SEED Program] and Michelle and signed up for intermediate and industrial sewing classes. Michelle is an understanding and friendly teacher. We work one-on-one with her and with a small group where she shows us how to improve our skills.

I’ve been at Common Thread for almost a year. I work at The Kettle and at the Flag Shop where Common Thread has equipment. The Flag Shop makes banners and flags. I like the things they have in their retail store. We work at the back of the factory where it’s calm.

I do serging for Common Thread and I’m the best serger we have. I try to do it the best I can. I don’t talk much with the other sewers. When I am working I come in, say “hi”, and then sit down to work. I have ear phones and listen to music.

I really enjoy the atmosphere in The Kettle space and at the Flag Shop. It’s flexible and there’s no rushing. You do one thing at a time and I can work at my own speed without a lot of pressure. There’s no office politics. The money I earn from Common Thread allows me to pay my credit card and other bills; it helps with food and gas

I’ve made some friends here. We had an appreciation day around Christmas time last year where we met with everyone who works at Common Thread. There was a lot of food and people socialized.

Working makes me feel more useful and I enjoy it. 

Women at work at the Flag Shop upcycling banners into banner bags
Producers at work

“It was amazing to see how the skills and confidence of Kettle members involved in sewing tote bags increased with direction and mentorship. Their enthusiasm and pride is contagious and show how people recovering from a mental illness can play a productive role in society. “

 Jenette MacArthur
SEED Employment Program Coordinator
The Kettle Society