“[Next Gen Designers] is a series of workshops to offer workspace, guidance and encouragement to youth interested in sewing, designing, embroidery, hat making, and costuming,” says local fashion designer Sheilagh McCafferty, who runs Next Gen Designers. 

Next Gen Designers has been hosting weekly workshops since January 19th, 2021 on 1020 Front Street, Sacramento. The workshops will be continuing until late spring. 

These weekly workshops on the surface level are a chance for Sacramento youth to heighten their sewing skills, but it goes much deeper than that. In an era where fast fashion is polluting our landfill, but also skyrocketing in sales, Next Gen takes the time to emphasize the importance of upcycling and establishing a Zero Waste environment within fashion. 

“If you can buy something for $4, brand new, what is it really worth? What did it cost to get?,” asks McCafferty hinting the dangers of fast fashion and sweatshops.

“When fabric is made, you want to use all of it. With mass produced clothing, they take a big piece of fabric and cut the pieces out at their convenience and it leaves a lot of scraps and waste.. that won’t biodegrade.”

Next Gen shines light on how simple an intimidating term such as “Zero Waste,” really is. For example, zero waste cutting. 

“We teach them fundamentals, such as instead of folding the fabric all the way in half, you can fold it two thirds of the way over using that fold line, and now you have a whole strip. Then you have this whole piece, you can get a whole ‘nother something out of it.”

McCafferty also brought up keeping “longevity in mind” when creating clothes. The idea of growing with your clothes, is the entirety of upcycling.

When asked why Next Gen Designers decided to focus on the youth specifically with their workshops, McCafferty began to tear up. 

“People can be engaged, whatever age they are… but the youth to see them actually engaged in their own imagination and creativity, with their hands in it, that’s the best reward right there.”

McCafferty continued, “I hope they find the value within themselves so that they can go on and be whatever they please. I hope they have what they need so that will take the next step. A lot of people give up because they don’t think they’re good enough. They need to know they’re valued.”

Next Gen Designers’ ultimate goal is defined by McCafferty’s finishing thought.

“Restore the value of human labor. Have pride in your work.”

For more information about Next Gen Designers’ workshops click here: Atrium 916 Next Gen Designers

Check out Sheilagh McCafferty’s website at Sheilagh.Studio