Wednesday, August 21, 2013

::Sewing:: through the year

All the best ideas come in the midnight hour.  One restless night a light bulb switched on - I have friends, like local flesh-and-blood friends, that can sew!   It's happened gradually, gaining a friend here, a friend there, but now I'm close friends with ladies who sew a little of this and a little of that, a couple times a year.  Why aren't we enjoying sewing together?

ICP the friends take over
friends that sew (last summer at the craft show)

Naturally, I hatched an elaborate plan - a year-long book club, quasi sewing club meeting monthly with a specific one-night sewing project planned by yours truly to coincide with a chapter in our book.  Because that's not too complicated.  Haha.

Little Dresses for Africa
proof that books and sewing go well together - little Dresses for Africa sewn last year

My husband was very skeptical.  "Do you really need more things to do?"  So I whipped out that trump card, "But I can share it on the blooooooog...."  Works every time.  I'm super excited that our very first meeting is on the calendar for September.  Lo and behold every one of my sewing friends actually wanted to join! 

Ok, so I figured I'd share my master plan with you all in case you'd like to stir up a little sewing club of your own.  You could totally leave the book part out.  Heck, you could change all the projects too, but at least here's a chance for that light bulb to flash on in your mind.  If you have sewing friends, enjoy them!  Plus, it's an opportunity for everyone to learn new skills.

::Disclaimer::  the book we're reading through the year is Christian and controversial.  That's a double whammy.  If you're not a Christian you may not like it, since it's pretty much about the Bible.  If you are a Christian you may not like it, since it's pretty much about applying the Bible, and that's something lots of Christians don't agree about.  So, I'm not telling you all to run out and buy this book.  But, I did tell my friends too!  I believe that in our small group we can talk about these issues while respectfully and lovingly disagreeing.  I figure the point is not to figure everything out, but rather to learn from and with each other.  I repeat, this book is not for everyone!  End disclaimer.

I recently finished reading Rachel Held Evan's  A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  In a 12-month journey, Rachel seeks to live out "Biblical Womanhood" based on a literal reading of the Scriptures. The book was an amusing, easy read, and rather eye-opening. It challenged my assumptions about how to interpret the Bible and made me a little uncomfortable, as I realized there are parts of the Bible that my spiritual tradition either ignores or escapes. The author, who might be considered a "liberal" Christian, is happily married and has recently become a hugely popular blogger. I also read her blog.

For our year-long sewing adventure, we'll meet monthly at my house to sew. While we sew, we can discuss one month of Rachel Held Evan's journey. I'll prepare a project that corresponds with the month's virtue, usually providing fabrics and doing some prep work to ensure we complete projects that night. Aria and I will be testing projects in advance, to search out sticky spots. 

Here's what I have in mind. Each month corresponds to a chapter in the book, in order:

September {Gentleness}
developing that Gentle & Quiet spirit, taking care with our words, refraining from gossip
sewing Fabric Dish Covers  to help us keep a lid on it

October {Domesticity}
getting serious about Cooking and Cleaning
sewing Embellished Dish Towels  because pretty details are fun

November {Obedience}
are women called to a special obedience?, texts of terror, selective literalism
sewing Pincushion for a thorny issue

December {Valor}
the Proverbs 31 woman (from a Jewish perspective!) and works of charity
sewing Wonky Cross Quilt Blocks (which I will finish as a quilt) to be gifted to an orphan through Threading Hope

January {Beauty}
female sexuality in the Christian tradition
sewing Pillowcases to dress up the bed

February {Modesty}
exploring modesty from different perspectives (including the Amish and Quakers)
sewing Simple Girl's Skirt because that's just fun

March {Purity}
female purity (from a Jewish perspective), especially as relates to menstruation
sewing Cloth Menstrual Pads yes, people use these

April {Fertility}
on motherhood
sewing Quick Change Trousers  for our babies or for gifts

May {Submission}
the roles of husband and wife
sewing Patchwork Potholders  it's kind of a hot topic

June {Justice}
women and girls of the world need our help
sewing Dresses for Africa to send to orphaned girls

July {Silence}
a woman's role in the church, silence in the spiritual life
embroidering a verse or saying of your choice creating space to listen

August {Grace}
community celebrations, reflecting on the journey
sewing gifts for each other we'll turn our embroidery into a bookmark or tote bag

dish covers, tutorial and photo by Allyson Hill

First up - dish covers!  As we go, I'll be sure to share projects with you and let you know how much fun we're having sewing together!  If you choose to start a little sewing group, I'd love to hear how things work out for you, and especially what projects you find work well for a one-night stand. 

Happy sewing everyone!


  1. Ambitious! Looking forward to your post-book/sewing club debriefs!

  2. Great book and I love your book study idea!

  3. Books + sewing = best idea ever! Your ideas for the coordinating projects are superb--such creative connections!

    1. Thanks, Amy! I thought up ideas during some routine sewing that let my mind wonder.

      Also, while I'm at it, I hope no one is assuming that they know what this book and/or I think about obedience, the role of a wife, role of women in church, etc. This list brings up some totally controversial topics and you can bet it's not safe to make any assumptions here.

  4. Cute! You guys will have a great time.

  5. I think I might need to see what some of my friends think. It would be fun and a great way to do a little bible study too. Totally love it!

  6. SUPER inspiring. I kinda want to just participate all by my lonesome! I have a group of sewing friends but we all live apart so we have a quilt-bee-by-mail going on its second year. I might incorporate these ideas in my block month! Thanks for this. I might check out that book, too...although I'm not up for controversy this week ;)

  7. Great idea, and yes, you've taken it to a high level of "extra" but in a good way. My sewing group is far less structured: a few friends who get together every week or so as schedules allow, with whatever handwork we've got going (sometimes knitting or crochet). Any books involved are of the crafty variety; mostly we sit and chat and stitch and snack and enjoy a few relaxing hours with company. Sewing groups are wonderful, however you do it; highly recommend finding a few friends and starting one.

  8. I was just having the same idea about sewing with friends after spending a lot of time yesterday blog-reading and seeing how much fun and how happy one particular group of women looked. I belong to two q-guilds--a big one (400) and a small one (40) and we never seem to be having that good of a time. I think you could also do your project without the biblical stuff and simply have similar topics--living a productive life; family; and some of the other topics you listed would fit in nicely--justice, sexuality, and so on. I think that May (obedience) is going to be a tough month! When I first read your blog--I thought you were going to write a sewing book and your sewing friends would be making the projects as you wrote the book--that could work too.
    I was in a "regular" book club once and one of the books we read was a non-fiction quasi travel book about how really expensive things are made--things like hand-made umbrellas, panama hats, shoes--we're talking those that cost thousands--well, the book club was divided on the topics--the sheer excess versus wealth distribution and the book club dissolved in a very unpleasant way.
    I like the idea, though, of women getting together and sewing
    and developing a bond of friendship. i just hope it manages to be fun and does not turn into a deadly discussion that leaves everyone depressed. I think we all need to put more fun and joy into our daily living--and sometimes it can be a struggle.
    Did you meet all of these friends at church (my question mark doesn't work)so i will use # or are these random meetings#
    How many women# How will you work the sewing machines#
    I ike the idea of the embroidered sayings--it will be interesting to see what people choose. At one workshop we did a word--joy, love, were common. My word was:

    on a small quiltlet.
    If i write much more I'll have to get my own blog...

    1. Thanks for adding your thoughts, Sandra. You are a no reply commenter, so I'll just reply here. You're so right that you could do this whole thing without the Biblical angle at all and still talk about interesting topics like justice, family, etc. Great point! This post is really just a springboard to get folks thinking about how they might enjoy connecting with their friends.

      Our sewing group is just me and 5 friends, all of whom already sew and can bring their own machines. I will not be sewing my project at the meeting, but instead helping them as needed.

      We met at various places from non-religious women's groups (Holistic Mom's Network) to the homeschool co-op to church. All of these ladies are Christians, which is part of why the book feels like it would be a good fit. Still, I'm sure we won't all agree on each issue. I feel like all of us truly love and respect each other, which creates a safe environment for disagreeing. I am humbled when I realize that other women, who are also wise, disagree with me. We can all learn from each other. I feel that such discussions create space for God to work.

  9. I own that book and I mostly loved it. i am a big RHE fan. i discovered her in 2010 after her book Evolving in Monkey Town popped up on my Amazon Vine list. It was like she was reading my mind with that book! From there, I found her blog. Living where we do in Texas, I have not met a single other person to have these convos with in real life. That's not to say they aren't here, I just haven't found them. So that can be lonely. Her blog has been pivotal in my own faith journey as well as my husbands and she's filled a gap that we haven't been able to fill locally.

    i can't wait to check out the projects you're working on.

  10. Don't knock us cloth pad users. I <3 and use them proudly! :)

  11. Ha, when I saw one of the chapters was fertility and then you were making Quick Change Pants my first thought was that they were for the grown ups. Oh, they're for the babies, not the baby making part. Silly me. I probably need to get my mind out of the gutter and read that book!

  12. What a great idea, Rachel! Very inspiring...indeed.

  13. You are so funny. And awesome. And hyper-planned out :) Even though I'm not religious any more I totally want to come to your club. I miss discussing these kinds of things, even though my perspectives have changed. Sounds really fun! (Although you lost me at cloth pads. Ick, haha)

    1. It would be very interesting to have you and your different perspectives, Jessica! Hyper-planned out is also my middle name =)

  14. I want to join your club too! You are really making me want to move and be your neighbor. I love the way you matched the projects with the chapters. Super-Smart Rachel.

  15. Hahaha that quick change pants comment!!

    Now I want to go read this book, sounds interesting.

  16. I did read her book and enjoyed it, but it wasn't as mature as I expected. I felt I was further along on the journey than she is, especially after reading her blog. With age comes wisdom, as the saying goes. I really enjoyed Jen Hatmaker's book "7" and her blog, which I read about the same time. JMO.

  17. Looks like a really interesting book - I think I'll pick up a copy and check it out. We're moving to a new state and I am hoping to make some real-life sewing friends there (or convert my non-sewing friends who already live there!) and start something like this. Thanks for sharing this !

  18. I love this idea and how you've planned everything out! Going to add the book to my list and share with some friends. :)

  19. I just love this whole idea! I've been thinking about it for two days and just bought the book after reading a few reviews. Thank you for the introduction to what I am sure will be a thought provoking read! I'm excited to start the book and hear about your monthly projects!

  20. huh, i'm not at all religious, and yet the thought of a yearlong project appeals to me. even one like this where you make connections between virtues and sewing projects. cool! i'm really looking forward to seeing where this takes you. coincidentally i just started listening to a discussion of this book on the "mormon stories" podcast, and it was interesting to me that a group of (albeit liberal) mormons were talking about, and really loving, this book!

  21. A monthly sewing date with a project for all to finish that evening sounds fun. I'd skip the religious book 'though but that's of course up to everyone what to do. The idea you came up with is nice 'though. I'm sure you will be having fun.

  22. Sounds like a wonderful journey for you and your friends. I love the projects you've chosen to match the virtues - a "thorny" pincushion for obedience - you bet :)

  23. What an awesome idea! You go girl!!

  24. You have amazing, boundless energy . . .

  25. Hmmm, makes me feel a bit uncomfortable too, but then I clicked over to her blog and really appreciated her latest post on homophobia. Might have to get myself a copy, or at least read her blog a while.

  26. Check out the days for girls site - days for for patterns and a worthy cause to donate cloth pads. Love the sewing group idea you've put together.

  27. I love this. Can't wait to read about each meeting.

  28. I just wanted to let you know that there will be a few of us in South Florida that will be doing this along with. We are having our first meeting in October but close enough. Thanks so much for sharing so much.!!!

  29. I'm not a religious person, but the virtues you will be discussing can be applicable in every woman's life. I really admire your energy and organization, and hope your sewing/book club will be successful.


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