Meet Lucia. Lucia has spent much of the summer on her sewing machine and playing with Lola, the much-loved family dog. And she’s combining her two favourite things in life for the greater good…
Ever since 11-year-old Lucia Cabezola Jeans got her hands on a sewing machine a couple of years ago, her family have got used to the sounds of a seamstress at work, coming from upstairs.
‘I started sewing not last summer but the summer before,’ says 11-year-old Lucia, who is half-Spanish and lives with her mum, dad and younger brother, near Norwich. And if a friend came round for a playdate? They’d sew!
‘I up-cycle clothes a lot,’ she adds. One of her favourite shops is the New-U boutique-style shop in Castle Quarter, Norwich, which offers quality pre-loved clothing and accessories for the whole family. Before lockdown, Lucia was popping in once a month and adapting her fashion finds. Transforming a denim shirt into a jacket in the space of two hours? No problem. A pair of trousers into yoga pants? No sweat.
And her interest in sewing/upcycling has gone up a notch this year. She spent much of her time in lockdown at her machine. As she was in year 6, she returned to school briefly before the summer holidays and had a light-bulb moment whilst walking to school with her mum. She would make it her mission to make masks for others.
Initially, she was making them just for friends and family, but they were so well received that she then decided to start a little business, with upcycling at its core.
She has scavenged charity shops, such as Barnardo’s in Norwich, for bed sheets to upcycle, or else the material has been donated. A recent trip to a handmade gift shop in Cumbria led to a donation of Winnie the Pooh material, for instance.
Doing her bit for the environment
As a family, they have all become concerned about the amount of disposable face masks going to landfill. So, wanting to do her bit for the planet, all Lucia’s marks are reusable. Although not PPE as such, they are all double-sided, comfy to wear and made from cotton.
And they have been selling well in Re. Source General Store, the zero-waste shop on Timber Hill, Norwich. The first batch sold out, so she had to replenish the stocks. Can she keep up with demand? ‘I can make 10 in an hour,’ says Lucia.
As if all that wasn’t enough, a proportion of the sales of her masks goes to charity. ‘I donate 20 per cent to the Dogs Trust,’ says Lucia. ‘I love dogs’. And in particular, Lola, the family’s one year old Sprocker spaniel.
Lucia has also branched out into making meditation pillows, made out of repurposed fancy dress, for example, and filled with organic peas – her mum and brother were the first recipients. Again, they can be found at Re. Source. Her top tip is to put some calming music on, put the pillow over your eyes and there you have it – the promise of instant relaxation.
Lucia turns 12 this month and is about to start high school for the first time. No doubt she will be wearing one of her own face coverings in communal areas, if it comes to it. And no prizes for guessing what one of her GSCE options will be, when it comes to it: textiles.
Lucia’s five top tips:
1. Make sure you have at least three or four face masks so that you’re never without – one in the car, one in your bag and a couple of spares at home.
2. Use reusable face masks to avoid so much waste and plastic going to landfill – you can wash them and use them time and again.
3. If you’re making your own face masks why not try using repurposed material so it’s even better for the environment? Duvet covers are ideal and I get mine from charity shops.
4. 100 per cent cotton is the best material for face masks because it’s tightly woven and has the least holes. For a double layer mask you can use brightly coloured material on the outside and plain on the inside.
5. It’s a good idea to sew your elastic inside the face mask then it’s more secure. You can add a knot to make it tighter.
Follow @lucia_sewz on Instagram