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
- Make a cling film pattern
- Create a body outline in order to understand proportions
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Museum or art gallery visit. Combine with a social event to discuss the application or learning
- 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.
- If you have appropriate outdoor space an Indigo dying party would be a lot of fun.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Ideal for larger groups
- Old sewing book/pattern/fabric swap. Everyone brings at least one of each and goes home with one of each.
- Ask an expert to talk to the group eg on historic costume, corset making, machine embroidery. Always offer to pay them for their time
- Watch a film or documentary about sewing together and discuss it
Good for beginners/children/young people
- Learn to use a sewing machine by making a pillow case
- SewChet teaches children to sew – she has lots of great ideas.
- 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?