Creative articles about sewing

Social project: Sewing school for kids in South Africa

As you all know, this year BERNINA is celebrating 125 years of creativity! Within that context, BERNINA South Africa, one of our subsidaries, has come up with a wonderful project to bring sewing to our youngest future generation, to children. But, let me give the word to Derick Stevens, formerly with BERNINA South Africa for 40 years and now with Lotsha Ministries (, following his retirement from BERNINA RSA one year ago, who is the author of the following report:

BERNINA … 125 years of promoting sewing as an art form as much as a skill and still making waves at all levels of society worldwide.

This was the case when BERNINA International from Switzerland recently found themselves faced by a request for assistance from Lotsha Ministries in South Africa. Lotsha – the Venda word for “Welcome to the new day” – Ministries operates throughout Southern Africa specialising in prison ministry for the past 16 years. Based on experience gained with the re-integration of ex-prisoners into society – in this case female prisoners – the ever present problem of finding a job and setting yourself up in society again is a major problem, especially where high unemployment is at the order of the day. This is why the idea of a sewing skills programme was born, to be run initially on a small scale as a pilot programme from the Lotsha offices in a town called Parys in the Free State region of South Africa. A request for machines was formulated and sent to the appropriate person at BERNINA International and within a few days a reply was received, confirming the donation of ten machines for this project – delivery to be handled by the South African BERNINA distributor.

A children’s home for sewing and creating

The machines were delivered to the Lotsha offices in Parys, but before they could be put to use, a much Higher Power intervened. Lotsha was asked to conduct a course for inmates of the Nylstroom prison in the Limpopo province, some 310 kms from Parys. During the visit to Nylstroom, Lotsha representatives had the privilege of visiting the Abraham Kriel Children’s Home where they met one of the house mothers, Susan Loots, previously the successful BERNINA dealer from Balito in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, some 900 kms from Nylstroom. During the meeting with Susan, she outlined the drastic need for a sewing school at the Home in order to see to it that these kids have all mastered sewing as a skill by the time they leave school and the Home. After due deliberation by the Lotsha Board of Trustees, it was decided that the machines will serve a much more valuable purpose at the Home than the initial exercise in Parys.

The announcement was made to the Abraham Kriel Home and the whole project took the local community by storm, resulting in a professionally planned and equipped sewing school now being part of the Home, with Susan Loots as the chief instructor. The school and Susan’s courses are so much in demand, that a special course is now being offered to adults from the town it-self, wanting to master the art of sewing. This resulted in Susan and her husband Andre deciding to donate a Deco 340 embroidery machine to the school’s equipment pool.


A big “Thank You” from BERNINA International to BERNINA South Africa for this great initiative!

Caro from the BERNINA Blog Team

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  • Ben Cruz

    I would like to help. Is it possible to send books from Contemporary Fashion Education to help with the education?

    • Caro Behnisch

      Dear Ben, thanks a lot for your comment! And my biggest apologies for my late reply. We appreciate your help and the books are very welcome. I would suggest that you would correspond directly with my colleagues in South Africa. Could you send me an email to Then I would arrange the needful.

      Thank you very much and best

      Caro from the BERNINA Blog Team

      • Mavis Rabenyane

        Hi im interested with learning how to sew is the space available for me?

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