Is It Impossible to Sew Socially?

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Last week, I had an awesome skype session with my seamstress friend back in Montreal, where we basically had a virtual Stitch n’ Bitch.  We both worked at our sewing tables while we chatted over Skype, and it was fantastic!  It also got me thinking about how nice it would be to start a group in Stockholm dedicated to bringing fellow sewing enthusiasts together.  After all, it does get a bit tedious trying to explain sewing things to my fiance who doesn’t even pretend to understand what I’m talking about, and it’s challenging to call up my grandmother/sewing guru in California to talk shop or get advice with the 9 hour time difference. I think it would be amazing to have local friends with the same interests to talk about our projects, go fabric shopping with, or to simply hang out together, because everyone knows that seamstresses are kind, awesome people!

Back in California, I had my grandmother and a couple friends who were interested in sewing. In Montreal, my best friend is a professional seamstress.  One-on-one time spent sewing or watching the other sew and learning new things was productive enough.  Sewing alone is even more productive, and it’s a relatively solitary activity.  I don’t particularly need someone to socialize with while I am trying to summon my rusty math skills to alter a pattern or calculate the radius for a circle skirt. But I really miss the sense of community and having a shared interest.  People are always amazed when I wear something I’ve made, which feels fantastic, but I also miss having my seamstress friends who really get how little or much effort I put into something, and can spot somewhere I went wrong and offer a solution.  The online sewing community is wonderful for this and there are so many helpful people out there, but sometimes you just want to experience things in person.

And then there is the added challenge of portability.  Tasia of Sewaholic wrote an article on the subject, explaining that one of the greatest challenges would be working out how to take projects with you to meetings, whether it meant hauling your sewing machine around with you or having to spend time preparing a small handstitching project, which seems counterproductive to me.  So what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

It would be wonderful to teach people to sew, because it’s always good to welcome new people to a group who may be joining so they can deepen their interest in the subject, but I am not sure how I would do this without my own studio space and multiple machines. I imagine their are places like Kulturhuset that offer this sort of space, but maybe it’d be better if absolute beginners took a course on their own before joining the sewing circle.

I also had the idea to organize sewing related visits to cultural exhibitions such as a museum displaying interesting costumes. If I lived in a place like New York or Paris where these seem to be a regular thing (like the Charles James exhibit or the 1950s exhibit showing this month in Paris), this would be very easy.  But in Stockholm, I’m not so sure. I guess we could go to the ABBA museum and check out their costumes, or just go wild in the karaoke booth and disco dance floor (yes those are real things at the ABBA museum, and I highly recommend it).

As far as the possibility of portable projects goes, I love the idea of the needlework nights that Colette hosts in Portland.  It would be so much fun to sit in a cafe having fika and working on a little needlepoint or embellishing something on another project.  Only problem is, I have only rarely dabbled in embroidery, and would need someone else to share their knowledge in this area.  Maybe something small like making tailor’s hams would be easier, or it would be better to open it up to knitting like Colette does.

Another idea I considered was to have a pattern/fabric swap.  Now this is something I can really get down with.  We all have a stash, and one’s junk is another’s treasure, right?  I especially have a lot of smaller size vintage patterns which, let’s face it, I am never going to fit into and probably won’t bother re-sizing, so it would be great to swap those for something more useful.

If it’s challenging to work in actual sewing, maybe we could just get together, have some wine, and watch Project Runway. Or we could just get together over drinks, show off our latest makes, and hang out.  After all, at the end of the day it’s about building community with people who share the same interest.

Are you in Stockholm and looking for a community of fellow seamstresses? If you have any ideas for a sewing group, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think!  

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4 thoughts on “Is It Impossible to Sew Socially?

  1. http://madestockholm.wordpress.com says:

    I have thought the exact same thing… I’ve always been a bit envious of the sewing communities in places like London and Boston. I might even be able to host a smallish group. I have a big dining table and a couple extra machines if someone has issues with portability. Okay I have 4 machines and an overlocker…much to the chagrin of my man. It’s a possibility anyway. I also like the idea of the going fabric shopping or swapping patterns.

    • 4 machines and you just moved here? Wow! I am envious of your thrift store finds–I may need to frequent the Hötorget one more often, though my fiance generously bought me an amazing one over the summer so I don’t really need more.

      I’ve looked into starting a Meetup group and it’s good to hear that you would be interested. Only problem is meetup now charges people to organize, what’s up with that!! If you have any ideas for platforms where we could start a group, let me know, because I believe we should be able to have the same sense of a sewing community as those in London and Boston!

  2. sewbussted says:

    I have a difficult time actually sewing with friends, but we have a wonderful group here in Chicago that meets once a month. It’s like a support groups for sewists. We usually have a formal meeting with a speaker and then we do show and tell and have lunch. At the end of our year, we host a fashion show where we showcase the clothes that we make. People love it as they enjoy seeing clothes on real women rather than stick thin models. Good luck with getting a group together!

    • A support group sounds fabulous! I imagine it becomes less about sewing per se and more about friendship and community, but correct me if I am wrong! The speaker sounds like a great idea to help maintain the focus of the group.

      I absolutely love the fashion show idea! I agree, it is so much better to see the clothes on real people rather than models, and what a fun way to show off your work!

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