In a few of the past blogs I’ve talked about helping the women in Wanblee and surrounding communities set up a sewing circle and maybe even working with us on some projects in the future, sort of a sister group. Theresa has began to help a few women learn to sew by starting them out with making their first quilt. The goal is to increase the number of women involved with classes/sewing sessions being held at the Kennedy Center. I personally love sewing along with others as it’s a good way to learn new skills, share patterns and just get together and have fun. A sewing group in Wanblee could do the same and also give women a chance to build new friendships, discuss local news and become more involved in their communities. They could learn to repair their own clothing and even learn how to recycle or refashion the unfashionable clothing that sometimes comes in on the trucks. Sewing could be a source of income for women making and selling their wares, sewing regalia for Pow Wow’s and doing alterations for people needing a new zipper, etc.
Women could learn to sew and preserve the tradition of the star quilt. These special quilts are given out to commemorate births, deaths, graduation or just to honor someone special. I sponsored a Lakota family for many years and they honored me with a star quilt which is very dear to me and especially meaningful as the family had so little. Getting girls involved in sewing could teach them a skill which would help build their self confidence and maybe keep them from doing things that could be destructive to their lives. You can read more about star quilts here and see them here. I met an elder a few years ago that made a star quilt top every day. I’ve purchased a few of these beautiful quilt tops from other Native Americans that I need to have quilted.
This past week Rachel, president of Hope 4 Women International , sent a very generous donation of three new sewing machines to Theresa for the sewing circle. This organization strives to empower women around the world. This brings the total available machines to six, two of them belong to Theresa and her sister and one was donated last year during Janet’s visit with Jerome and Theresa. Carol Binnie Johnson from Dress A Girl Around the World– Tucson helped us in making the connection with Hope 4 Women. Thank you ladies for helping the women of Wanblee and please visit the sites of both of these great organizations and see all the wonderful things they do for women.
We can help the sewing group too by sending notions and supplies for them. Below is a list from Theresa of needed items.
- Bobbins, Class 66 and 15
- Fabric, any kind and color
- Needles, machine all sizes; hand sewing and quilting, all sizes
- Quilt batting and fiberfill for pillows, etc.
- Thread, hand quilting and general purpose, all kinds and colors but especially neutral colors and black and white for hand quilting.
- Yarn, any color
- Scissors, dressmaker type and smaller, thread snips
- Straight pins, all sizes, safety pins, all sizes; larger better for “pin basting” quilts
- Rotary cutting supplies: self healing boards, cutters, blades, rulers
- Tape measures, seam gauges, seam guides for the machine, yardstick
- Fabric markers, disappearing or other and quilting pencils for marking tops
- Quilting Frame, lap type hoop or PVC; If donating large floor type, let us know as want to check with Theresa re the space
- buttons ,snaps, elastic, zippers
SFK would like to also make a few things to get them started…..pin cushions, needle holders, trash thread holders and a sewing bag to hold all their supplies. First we need to get some basic supplies for the group project and then can work on a bag of items that each person might need to work on items while at home. Jerome said he would put together a thread holder to store all the spools of thread. Hopefully once the ladies learn to sew they can make their own starter supplies for new members joining the group. Check out this page and this page for some ideas for making these items. Also here are some sewing organizers and ideas of what to put in the kit.
We’re excited about this new venture and hope that with a little help and encouragement from us and Theresa’s teaching skills, this will be something that has the potential to change lives on the Rez. We’ll ask for pictures once the group is up and running. Let us know if you belong or have belonged to a sewing group and your experiences there.
This isn’t a monthly project and your donations can be sent here at any time. We thank you for your continued generous support to our friends in Wanblee.