This June marks three years since I relaunched Sewcialists with a particular focus on inclusion and intersectionality. My first post used the word “we” a lot, but really it was just me, wondering if anyone would think the project was worthwhile. I’m grateful every day that so many people have joined as readers, authors, theme month participants, and Instagram followers!
Where did we come from?
The Sewcialists first began in 2013, when the word was coined during a Twitter chat to combine “people who love sewing and social media”. Pretty quickly a bunch of friends and I created this website, hashtags, a blog aggregator, and more. We hosted regular challenge months, from the colourful (Red October and Blue February) to the wacky (Grunge Month and Viking Shieldmaiden Month)! From the start, it was a grassroots group effort by sewists who happened to include a range of genders, nationalities, orientations, languages and more. We went on hiatus in 2015.
When I restarted the Sewcialists in 2017, I had two goals: Build community through accessible theme months, and start talking about topics that few people were discussing in the sewing community. The theme months are easy, in a way: We choose a topic that works for all seasons, genders, sizes and budgets, and invite you all to take part. The big discussions are harder, but right from the start of the Who We Are series we were talking about white privilege, racism, ageism and more.
Where are we going?
The current wave of protests about racism in America and elsewhere reminds us that it is our responsibility to do more. More listening. More self-education. More reflection, and more action. In the short term, we are re-posting interviews and personal essays from Sewcialists who are Black, so that we can take in their experiences and learn. As individuals, our mostly-white and white-passing Editorial and Copy Editor team is reading and studying to be better informed. Finally, we invite People of Colour in our community to reach out if you would like to write for us and express your experiences and opinions — we promise to amplify your voices if you want to speak out.
In the long term, we pledge to make sure that discussions on racism don’t end when the news cycle ends, just as we actively try to make sure that our posts regularly reflect sewists who are LGTBQ+, plus size, over 50, disabled, chronically ill, and so on. Systemic change is a long path, and we need to stay the course.
We will make mistakes as we figure out the way to lean in harder, while still creating a safe space to foster change. I truly believe in our mission to change hearts and minds with honest and open discussion, but I’m aware that gentle approach comes from my personal bias as a teacher. My way is not the only way, and I truly hope that before 2020 is over someone starts a more radical sewing community to balance our slow and steady approach. Perhaps you will be the one to start it!
Finally, thank you.
Three years ago it was just me, wondering if Sewcialists would work. Since then, we have had over 450 posts and nearly one million views! None of that would be possible without our hundreds of community authors, the many volunteers behind the scenes, and all of you who contribute by reading and commenting. THANK YOU!
Gillian is co-founder of the Sewcialists, and blogs at craftingarainbow.com . She teaches ESL and loves her cats.