“Stitch It Don’t Ditch It”: Edinburgh Street Stitchers

A team of “street stitchers” from Edinburgh’s Zero Waste Hub take to streets, parks and marketplaces with the promise of free and simple clothing repairs.

It all started in 2022 for the Edinburgh Street Stitchers when 67-year-old Mary Morton formed the growing group.

Intrigued by her son’s job in the renewable energy sector, Mary decided to take some online courses about the environment. Her eyes were opened to the devastating impacts of the fast-fashion industry, but she also saw the perfect opportunity to offer her sewing skills in aid of a more sustainable future.

Mary Morton, founder of the Edinburgh Street Stitchers. Mary is seen sitting in a community hall stitching a repair while wearing a dress covered in little patchworks.

Mary Morton, founder of the Edinburgh Street Stitchers. Image: @edinburghstreetstitchers

The fashion industry is responsible for an estimated 10% of global carbon emissions, which is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. The street stitchers believe the first line of defence is repairing small flaws in worn clothing items rather than just tossing them without a second thought.

Mary and other members of the Edinburgh Street Stitchers can be found sitting in camping chairs across the city featuring a “stitch it, don’t ditch it” chair-banners. Sometimes these are also accompanied by a QR code linked to free online repair demos.

"Stitch it don't ditch it" embroidered on a sheet which is displayed on a camping chair to attract passers-by.

Image: Belfast Street Stitchers Group

These Edinburgh volunteers are part of the Zero Waste Hub. The Hub was organised by a group of Edinburgh University students called SHRUB Coop in 2008 with the hopes of counteracting throwaway culture.

Street stitching is truly moving the needle

Street Stitching is a larger movement across the UK which labels itself a “joyful rebellion”.

On high streets across the UK and expanding around the world, people are congregating in chairs to sit and mend while waiting for others to approach them with repair requests.

Camping chairs are lined along a park path with street stitchers. A young couple have sat down on the path to join in and are stitching repairs of their own.

People will regularly join in, curious about what’s going on. Image: Mary Morton

In fact, in an interview with the BBC Mary said she recently helped sew a button onto a woman’s shirt in Princes Street Gardens, a sight which encouraged a couple to sit down on and start mending what they were wearing.

“They were from Sweden and they said they were going to go back home and start up in a group – and they did,” she said.

The list of groups available to join in the UK is extensive, including various parts of England and select areas of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Oversees groups are also growing in popularity having formed in cities across Australia, Germany, France, Sweden, Japan and more!

Visit the Street Stitching website to join a group or start one of your own!

Read more from our craft section


Hannah McLaren

I've worked at DC Thomson for six years! I began as an intern at My Weekly and The Scots Magazine, which was extended by a few months to help out at The People's Friend. I then covered maternity as Celebrity Editor for My Weekly, before I became Multimedia Journalist at The Scots Magazine. Currently I'm writing digital content across each title.