18 fun things to do with a group of sewing friends

There is a delightful tradition in the world of sewing blogs that involves meeting up with other bloggers and those who follow blogs – the “meet-up”. My own experience has been so positive I wanted to encourage you, should you have a chance, to attend one. For example London Dressmakers (Barbara) have created an opportunity to make a cling film moulage in London this month.

What is a meet-up? Someone (Karen from Did you make that? is a great and generous organiser) organises an event and provides the logistics, sometimes a venue, sometimes snacks and a activity or two. And then, letting the organiser know, you just turn up. Often the meet-ups are focused on shopping for more fabric, or occasionally to visit an exhibition.

But not everyone wants to buy more stuff. And some people find large groups slightly intimidating. So I have devised a few meet-ups that are perhaps a little more intimate – for three to six people – and could easily be arranged in your local area or at home. These often involve eating and drinking. Here are some suggestions for a theme.

Ideal for smaller groups

  1. Make a cling film pattern
    Megan in cling film
    Megan in cling film
  2. Create a body outline in order to understand proportions
  3. Paint a large piece of silk together, then cut it up and take a piece each. At least one metre each would be good so that you have a chance to make a little top or a scarf. And to share your creations with each other.
  4. Bring a range of fabric samples (ideally the bringer knows the fabric composition) and do the burn test to work out what the fabric is made from. This is good fun and almost like wine tasting.
    Burn testing fabric
    Burn testing fabric
  5. Technique class. One person reads up and practices something such as bound button hole, rolled hem, sashiko embroidery, or bagging out a jacket, and demonstrates it to the group who all make their own sample. It may be good to have two or three sewing machines for this.
  6. Museum or art gallery visit. Combine with a social event to discuss the application or learning
  7. A UFO party. Bring your unfinished sewing or knitting project and get some help on moving it forward. Or someone else who will take away your item and make it their own.
  8. If you have appropriate outdoor space an Indigo dying party would be a lot of fun.
  9. Draft a skirt block together. I did this at work in the lunch hour and it was very successful. I find “teaching” a technique embeds learning as well as helping you to discover more about the vagaries of the female form.
    Skirt block
    Skirt block
  10. Bring a work in progress and fit each other. Megan is planning a complicated bias evening dress and I have offered to help with the fitting. This works well for two but four would also work, and gives the opportunity for more points of view.
  11. Bring a bag of scraps. Each person sews a square or two to the same dimensions, and possibly to the same harmonious colour scheme. Stitch together and give to a friend who is ill or someone who has had a baby.
  12. Improve your ability to sketch outfits. Each draw each other for three to five minutes a time, using a variety of mediums (eg pencil, felt tip, crayons, paint). I want to do this one. Anyone in the London area like to join me? I can’t draw but I would like to be able to express some of my design ideas on paper.
    Fashion illustration
    Learning to draw

Ideal for larger groups

  1. Old sewing book/pattern/fabric swap. Everyone brings at least one of each and goes home with one of each.
  2. Ask an expert to talk to the group eg on historic costume, corset making, machine embroidery. Always offer to pay them for their time
  3. Watch a film or documentary about sewing together and discuss it

Good for beginners/children/young people

  1. Learn to use a sewing machine by making a pillow case
  2. SewChet teaches children to sew – she has lots of great ideas.
  3. So does Ooobop who helped create rara skirts, slogan T shirts and floral headdresses with a group of teenagers at Pencil Atelier.

Although all of these activities include learning they have proved to be a lot of fun. My husband says he has never heard me laugh quite as much as when the ladies came around for the cling film wrap. And I now have some lovely friends in London who I know I could rely on if I ever needed help. These friendships make me feel safer and happier and bring people with similar interests together. Have you ever been to a “meet up”? What did it involve and was it fun? Any other ideas of things to do in a group? Any takers for speedy drawing from life?


15 Responses

  1. Marianne

    Great ideas! So far I’ve never heard of a Dutch blogger meet up so I’m thinking of organising one myself. I rather like the Australian ‘Frocktails’ where meeting for cocktails provides a good excuse to sew up a fancy dress!

  2. Giorgia

    Hi Kate! Funnily enough I have been working on my drawing skills too recently!

    Have you heard of the tecnique that allows you to mae your “own” croquis starting from pictures of yourself? I had a play around with illlustrator and some pictures recently and the result is not half bad. I printed off a bunch that I use as an improvised sketch pad for outfits and very basic technical drawings.

    My drawing skills are definitely poor but is a fun thing to do and useful if you make your own patterns. Also useful if you want to test a commercial pattern on your own proportions.

    I’m in if you want to meet up and work at it together/in a group!

    • Fabrickated

      Great news. My Illustrator skills are rather basic – perhaps you would be able to show me, and others, how to do that? I will email you and anyone else who says yes to this idea at the weekend.

  3. Stephanie

    These ideas are so much fun! To tell the truth I was always reluctant re. Internet-based meet-ups given bad past experiences (e.g. with an Italian-language meet-up that turned into only guys looking to meet women!), a writing blogger who turned out to be a bit of a con artist, etc., but sewing seems to be different. I didn’t have any local sewing friends until just the other day. I was in a meeting with a super-smart woman who also does quantitative modelling and who sits on a working group with me. She complimented me on my dress and I explained that I am learning to sew so the dress is OK but not great…and she whipped out a gorgeous shirt from her bag that she is making for her little son, complete with perfect flat-felled seams and stunning fabric and everything. I was totally happy! I envy you your London-based group.

    • fabrickated

      Goodness Stephanie – the Italian speaking pick up meet up sounds interesting (if you are looking for a boyfriend, as many are), but not so good for fixing your fitting problems! And how nice to meet another super smart sewists (that makes two of you then).

      • Stephanie

        As always you are way too generous with respect to my capacities. I hope I get a group of local sewing friends together so I can plan activities.

  4. Najah

    I want to try EVERY one of these, Kate! Thank you for sharing. I don’t have many local sewing friends, but this gives me ideas for converting newbies.

  5. Jane

    These are such great ideas Kate. I’m meeting up with Karen from The Draper’s Daughter next week as we’re thinking of setting up a local sewing group so we may well be using some of your suggestions in the future.

  6. Nina Waters

    Can’t draw well at all but would love to improve. Please let me know if you do organise a speedy drawing event. Thanks!

    • fabrickated

      Hi Nina – I havn’t fixed a date but I now have four of us who are interested which is the perfect number. Are you in London? And I was thinking a Friday evening. Let me know.

  7. Hila

    I love all these ideas! I would like to add one to the pot – a tracing party where a group of sewing friends bring by some of their sewing books/ sewing patterns/ vintage/ self drafted and you can trace some things that you have wanted to try but not necessarily buy antire book or its a vintage pattern or an OOp or just liking something else thats no in your collection and you arent sure it will be your cup of tea without wasting the money. Hila (@saturdaynightstitch

  8. Fabrickated

    Brilliant Hila – and doing things like that together is always fun in case someone needs help or forgets a bit. And of course once traced they could be circulated around the group.

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