Our story started back in 2015 Charlotte was teaching a sewing class at the Mustard Tree Cafe in Hurworth, Donna had a stressful 9-5 job and joined the class as a means to wind down, learn a new skill and get some much needed relaxation. The sewing group really hit it off and really enjoyed this time together where we did do some sewing, but more importantly we had a good chat and a giggle over tea & cake – which we joked that made us leave feeling much happier than when we got there! As the course was drawing to an end, we had a conversation about setting up a new little group, and started to put together a wishlist of the skills could learn, everything from DIY to Icing a cake, Painting to making a fresh Christmas door wreath and where Charlotte could join in and wasn’t always teaching!

Following this we did lots of planning, had plenty of discussions, drank more tea and ate more cake and finally we decided to just go for it and start our own little group and see where it lead.

In September 2015 Charlotte & Donna, along with lots of help and support from friends which became part of our newly formed committee, opened our door at The Mustard Tree Cafe in Hurworth hoping for 20-30 ladies to arrive that might like to join our little merry group… we don’t think we will ever get over the shock by the queue of almost 70 ladies that were outside waiting to come in!

After each meeting we were getting messages on our Facebook page from more ladies that wanted to join us, the waiting list just kept growing and growing!

Charlotte – Joint Founder

It was completely overwhelming and whilst it made planning our activities a little bit more difficult we embraced it as a challenge.

Initially we had some discussion about potentially joining the Woman’s Institute, but after running successfully on our own for 3 months we asked our members to vote, and they were largely in favour of us running as we were, as an independent ladies group and so we continued.

As a group we are made up of 6 regional CIC’s, a CIC is a Community Interest Company which is a not for profit organisation. Simply it means that any profits we make are channeled back into the local community, we do this via our Silver Members Groups (which you can read more about below).

After each meeting we were getting messages on our Facebook page from more ladies that wanted to join us, the waiting list just kept growing and growing.

So in June 2016 we opened another group in Darlington at a larger venue where we were able to accommodate the full waiting list and have room for a few more.

We posted a link for ladies to book online and were once again overwhelmed when all of the 90 memberships were sold out within 24 hours.

As we were fully subscribed we were able to launch group number three, Aycliffe Village launched in April 2017 once again was embraced by the community and after the first meeting had no spaces left.

Groups in Barnard Castle, Northallerton and Durham, Yarm, Middlesbrough, Richmond and Bishop Auckland quickly followed.

Then the pandemic arrived, 2020 was a difficult year for us like many groups and businesses, we were unable to meet at our events and could only stay in touch with our members virtually, IT was never one of our standpoints but it meant that we had to get to grips with Zoom and recording YouTube tutorials very quickly! Our carpark kit collections were one of the few pleasures we had and always a pleasure to see everyone at a safe distance of course!

We also channeled the power of our membership for the benefit of the community, our Silver Members Groups were set up for ladies over 60 that are socially isolated, bereaved, or caring for someone. During lockdown we spoke to them and their isolation and loneliness was magnified. We focused our efforts into making them some care packages full of activities and letters to keep them company until we could sew them again. We asked our members to help us with the deliveries and were overwhelmed with the support.

After our first round of care packages we decided to make this a monthly delivery for our Silver Members, and after feedback of handwritten letters saying how it had brightened their day we applied for funding to offer more packages.

We ended up delivering well over 3000 care packages across the whole of the North East with the support from our wonderful members, their partners, husbands and friends! It was a truly heartwarming scheme to be part of at such a difficult time. You can read about the individual projects on our Community Projects Page

After the pandemic when normal life finally resumed the demand for our groups was at an all time high. We had support from The Social Enterprise Support Fund to help us grow and recruit a team. We more than doubled in size and went from 12 groups to 25, welcoming around 1200 women each month. We also recruited hosts to help us at each group, until the pandemic Charlotte and Donna had mainly welcomed everyone at the groups along with our committee members. You can read about our hosts on each of the group pages, we feel truly blessed to have such a fabulous team around us!

Jumping to the present day, we have groups meeting between Gateshead and Bedale, we’re always looking for new venues and plan to expand into Newcastle & Sunderland soon!

In addition we currently have 6 silver member groups which are free for ladies over 60 who are socially isolated, bereaved or caring for someone else to attend.

We’d like to thank all of our tutors, hosts and committee as well as members old an new for a fun journey! Who would have thought all of those years back that Pimm’s and Needles would be so big and have taken over our lives like it has! We look forward to celebrating our 10th Birthday next year and excited to what the future brings.

We have a committee of around 60 ladies that help & support us at the each of the groups

Donna – Joint Founder

Our founders

Charlotte Pyrah

Charlotte Pyrah is textile designer, sewing teacher and author of several sewing & crafting books.

Mum of two little boys, Charlotte enjoys weekends away with her family in her vintage caravan, a good game of poker, mojitos and most things floral!

Donna Feeney

Donna is a designer / maker with a background in candle making, upcycling and Marketing.

In her free time Donna loves spending time with her cats and dogs.

Donna loves gardening and decorating and is addicted to visiting TK Maxx!