Making While Black in White Crafting Spaces

I did this interview with Becky in 2019, and I wanted to revisit it in light of the events currently unfolding in the United States. However, after reviewing it, I decided there were other things to be shared. If you think that the pain and anguish the black community is facing over the recent murders of black men and women is a new thing, then you haven’t been paying attention.

This pain and the indifference of the crafting community have been rippling through the crafting, knitting, and sewing communities for years, making it challenging for black makers in white crafting spaces. Did you notice what I said there? White crafting spaces because that’s what the major sewing machine, pattern, and fabric companies seem to think: That black makers are allowed in these spaces. Read that again… because yes, I said allowed.

Those companies do not want to upset their white customers WHO they believe are their bread and butter. Black dollars are the extra and will always be there because where else would we go? In their minds, they’ve made concessions. They feature black makers in their social media accounts, and they engaged with a black brand ambassador or two. See, look, they’re paying attention to black makers.

However, when civil unrest breaks out, collectively they seem to say, let’s take a back seat, wait, and see how this plays out. Because eventually, that black sewist will need a spool of thread, a zipper, a yard or two of fabric, or that new pattern. So if we sit here quietly and wait for it to blow over, we will be all good. In the meantime, we will continue to collect the dollars from our main community—the white crafter.

But something went wrong this time. Not only were black makers fed up with this inaction, but white makers were too. In major sewing machine and fabric companies and retailers,  Facebook, Instagram, and websites, makers were leaving messages demanding responses to their sit-and-wait attitude. Emails, messages, and phone calls were made wondering, WHAT was their stance?

Understandably, black makers were hurt, angry, and frustrated with the lack of response by retailers with whom they spend major crafting dollars and have relationships. Out of those emotions, Black Makers Matter was conceived.

Black Makers Matter logo

Black Makers Matter is a collective of makers from various backgrounds, ages, skills, and yes, we even have a black male maker in the group. Listed below is the vision and mission statement of the collective.

Now, I know that in the last couple of days, several of the sewing machine companies have come out with bland, place-holder statements regarding Black Lives Matter. However, these statements are as unconvincing as their silence was… There is yet to be a statement from Joann’s or Hobby Lobby (if you’re still shopping there!), so I assume they’re sticking with their sit-and-wait stance.

However, I hope you will join this new collective of makers because ALL are welcome. We’re over 20,000 strong, and new initiatives will be announced on the blkmakersmatter Instagram page.  There is currently a survey on the Instagram page that makers are encouraged to complete.

Stay tuned as Black Makers Matter works to have a more inclusive crafting space—making it easier for black makers to be considered a part of the Making Community and to craft in white spaces.

Carolyn blogs at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. You can find her on Instagram at @diaryofasewingfanatic.