Common Threads

Self Sufficiency for the Modern World

Self Sufficiency for the Modern World

Self Sufficiency for the Modern WorldSelf Sufficiency for the Modern World

Our focus is on making self sufficient humans by sharing sewing, cooking, time and money management skills.  Our framework is

About Us


Our Philosophy

Ukulele, abacus and lacrosse lessons are all worthy pursuits for young folks but will those skills serve them well when they (finally) leave the nest?  Children need to learn life skills too and with more and more families including two working parents there is limited time to impart these skills to those who need it most. Common Threads aims to fill this gap through the various programs we offer.  ​​

​Our programming focuses on 4 skill pillars.  Examples of the skills within each pillar are listed below.

Sewing - fix a button or fallen cuff, sew on a patch, make small decorative items (scarves, hats, pillows), hand bag or messenger bag, small quilt, stuffed animals, making clothes from a pattern, making your own clothing pattern, repurpose clothing

Cooking - healthy eating choices, proper food preparation and storage, meal and snack preparation, grocery shopping planning, feeding big groups / parties

Organization - telling time, estimating effort for various tasks, using “to do” lists, how to prioritize, how to delegate, reading a map, riding public transit, sending a letter, planning events (e.g. a party)

Money management - money recognition, how to make change, how to build and stick to a budget, how to save, how to use credit cards, differentiating needs vs. wants

Learning these skills should not be a chore (figuratively or literally). We aim to make it fun while allowing for self-directed learning for each child. Acquiring new skills builds confidence and provides kids with an opportunity to help with the "grown up" things around the house.​



Common Threads is the brain-child of Shawna Cotton.  A mother of two school aged kids, she has always firmly believed that her job as a parent - apart from love, support and laughter - is to make her kids self sufficient.  They will leave the nest, and they will need to know how to fly.  And cook.  And pay bills.  And be thrifty by rolling up their sleeves and DIY-ing it sometimes.

Shawna has been baking pies and sewing all manner of things since she was 8 years old. Mockingly nicknamed "Martha" (as in Stewart) by her friends in university, they are now old enough to see the value of these skills.   And sometimes they hire her to make curtains and doll clothes.

Shawna has lived a few professional lives too.  Trained as an actuary at university, she spent nearly 10 years building financial models for corporate pension plans.  She then veered left and spent the next number of years designing a better way to do things as a process engineer at Mercer and TVO.