The thoughts below were included in my most recent newsletter. Sewing is so much more than connecting two pieces of fabric with thread. From time to time I like to share what's on my radar with textiles, sewing and the making community. I love to hear your thoughts, so please join the conversation in the comments or on Facebook! If you haven't yet, join our newsletter so you don't miss any of our updates!
My senior year of college at the University of Rochester I took a class called "Women, Cloth and Culture". Up to that point I had never really found my academic niche at school. I was interested enough in my major (UR has an amazing psychology program), and I did well enough to get by, but nothing had ever really grabbed me. Nothing had made me stop in my tracks and think "Oh my god, THIS is what I really want to learn about". Then I happened upon this class (ok, that's a lie. I stalked this class in the syllabus for years until it was offered again and I was eligible!) and it was transformative!
The small class offered plenty of opportunity for discussion (something I avoided at all cost elsewhere but jumped in whole heartedly with this class) and started to make connections between my love of sewing and the greater world. Connections that I always knewexisted but I couldn't put my finger on.
We learned about Navajo Weavers, The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, and the Quilt of Gee's Bend (my personal favorite). About women who used textiles as a way to tell their story, as a way to support their families, and as an art form. We visited the studio of quilt artist Carol Taylor, which was my first introduction to modern quilting and the possibility that you could have a dye studio in your basement!
It was a formative class to say the least. And, while I still felt like the weirdo who dragged my sewing machine to campus to make quilts when I wasn't studying, I also felt part of something bigger.
I'm still enamored with how cultures and communities use textiles and sewing arts to connect with each other. This past week I had some time to read Hand/Eye Magazine, an online "journal dedicated to global creativity" with a substantial section on textiles.
You can find yourself reading these short articles for hours but some of my favorites included:
the Shepard Craft project that studies the vibrant crafts of the nomadic Gujjar and Bakarwal communities in India
Chibani Leather, a company in Ethiopia that makes gorgeous leather products while educating and employing "marginalized and vulnerable youth" from the community
the Social Justice Sewing Academy, an organization that uses art quilting as a vehicle for community cohesion and social change. I have followed them on instagram for awhile, but it was interesting to learn about the person behind it all!
And if you want a long read that's a little textbooky but totally fascinating, check out Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times!
I'd love to hear how you use sewing or your favorite textile/fiber art to connect with others whether it's in the present or the past, locally or globally! Comment below or join the discussion on Facebook!
PPS- So are summer camps!