Friday, April 2, 2010

Sewing Circle Ideas

From Jennifer Allen

Do you want to sew but can't find the time to do it? That seems to be a common problem with many ladies that I know.

I have wondered how the Amish or Old Order Mennonite ladies get all their sewing work done. I think one key to this would be their children are normally in a private school from what I know. Seeing my Mom homeschool my brother, sister, and I made me aware of her limited time. Being a stay at home Mom or a teacher to your children gives you little time for “extra’s”.

How do you find time to sew in the midst of a busy life? One solution would be sewing circles. Some time ago I was involved in a sewing circle. Here's how it started.

A friend of ours knew a number of ladies who wanted to dress modestly and sewed some of their own clothes. These women either had young children with very limited time to sew, or didn’t know how to sew at all. She began a sewing day once a month.

Here's one way a sewing circle can operate:

One family that needs clothes can be chosen. That family will be the focus of all sewing for the day. The lady in charge (or with a helper) would cut out the fabric and have everything ready to sew. An invitation would be sent out to all the ladies for a sewing day.

You come bringing your own sewing machine and supplies. Each lady can bring food for a potluck lunch. Tables with extension cords for the sewing machines need to be set up. Irons and iron boards run on the outer walls. Usually a church basement would work well for a sewing day.

Two women or older teenagers are assigned to care for the children present and prepare story hour or crafts for them. This team of ladies assigned to the children can alternate monthly.

All the sewing ladies work on the garments that have been pre-cut. It can be arranged in assembly line style such as one person working on sleeves, the bodice, etc. or each woman can be given their own garment to be working on. If it’s not finished by the end of the day volunteers can finish up on those clothes later at home. The key to this would be choosing simple patterns to sew on as you will have a variety of sewing experience in the ladies present. With a large sewing circle it may be possible to be finished with garments for one family in a day.

While this is one idea for a larger sewing circle of friends I must let you know a down fall of this arrangement. Everyone who was coming needed clothes sewn for their family. If you have 10 ladies coming, but are only able to sew for one family each month then you would have to wait 9 months to have help sewing the clothes you need. That's a little late!

I personally think only a very large sewing circle will work long term where you can help sew for others. Or if you have some ladies coming who do not need to sew for themselves and can help others. This type of sewing circle didn't last long term as each lady needed to have clothes for her own family and couldn't wait that long. It just wasn't a practical sewing circle for the problems mentioned.

Otherwise, the best way for any sewing circle in my mind is to bring your own projects to be sewing on. The key is to have someone watching the children so you can work uninterrupted. Again if you take turns each sewing circle day and have some crafts of games prepared it will help a great deal.

Sewing Circles can be done on a small scale. Two or three friends can gather together for the day and ask a grandma to watch the children present while they are sewing. Caroline and I have had sewing days where a grandma watches her children while we work. That helps so much! If you know how to sew and have daughters, teach them how to sew. Working together can be a joy instead of drudgery.

I like to set aside a certain week or two and get as much sewing as I can done in that time for a season. For example I would set aside two weeks in February where my main focus is getting the Spring sewing done. In this way I'm not sewing at sporadic times in the season.

I'm one who wears my clothes for quite sometime. Normally I add a few new outfits each year and try to weed out clothes that I haven't worn the past year or two. I try to find friends to pass these clothes along too. Sewing Circles can be a wonderful way to fellowship and help each other at the same time. I do caution if you seriously need some clothes to fellowship less and sew, sew, sew!:-)



At April 3, 2010 at 10:07 PM , Blogger Lilyofthevalley - Tanya said...

What has helped me, is a friend has come with her daughters and helped me sew on my sewing projects! I had everythin cut out and we jsut sewed away on it. She has more time to do her own sewing, since her children are older than mine. It sure helped me and I was so happy to have the help!

At April 3, 2010 at 10:10 PM , Blogger Caroline said...


That is a good idea! I have friends who have gotten together and done that. I personally think that sewing days work better when they are smaller. You seem to get more done...It also works great if someone is there just to watch the children. :-)

At April 5, 2010 at 8:49 AM , Anonymous Jennifer said...

I think smaller is better too. The key to all of this small or large to me is having someone assigned to watching children. When they are happy playing or doing activities Mom can get so much accomplished with her sewing. Or so I've noticed.:-)


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