Visitors to the Riverside Traders market in Whanganui last Saturday may have stopped to chat with Sarah Lancaster and heard about her Sew Love community workshops and pop-up sewing classes.

Her love of sewing and up-cycling prompted her to hit the road in her motor home named Cecil with her fabrics and three solar-powered sewing machines.

"I give the machines names that fit with their brands. I have Brother machines named Basil and Boris and my Bernina is named Georgina," says Sarah.

When she had to leave her sewing workshop in the classic St Kevin's Arcade in Auckland's Karangahape Rd last year, she was crestfallen but says she always had a mobile service in mind.


She started a Pledge Me page to raise funds to buy a vehicle and everyone who made a donation will be rewarded with mending kits, tote bags, workshops, superhero capes and parcels of sewing goodies.

After 203 pledgers donated $21,851- exceeding her target of $20,000 - Sarah was able to buy her camper van in December.

She wasted no time in setting off on a tour of the Coromandel, parking up at festivals, markets and opportunity shop carparks.

Sarah makes sewing look like fun but her work carries a serious message and she draws attention to the plight of poorly paid clothing factory workers in other parts of the world.

Sunday marked the anniversary of the 2013 collapse of the Sava Building in Bangladesh which killed 1130 garment workers and injured many others.

Sarah chatted to Whanganui people on Sunday and asked the question: "Who makes your clothes?"

"It is important to think about the clothes we buy and whether they have been ethically made," she says.

The Sew Love tours are supported by Sitka, an Auckland-based ethical clothing company that supplies Sarah with seconds for sale while she provides a free mending service for owners of Sitka products on the road.

Sarah's tour has taken her to Raglan, Hamilton, Otorohanga, New Plymouth and her next stop is Marton where she will meet a group of crafty women who supported her pledge page.

She will then make stops in Palmerston North, Levin and Wellington before heading to her home town of Thames for a bit of a "reboot".

Sarah's adventures can be followed on her Sew Love Facebook page where she has also posted the video of her Whanganui experiences.