Community, Fundraiser, Stitch-A-Long, Textile Alchemy

Stitch-a-Long 3.0 – The Skinny

By Crispina ffrench

This is the Story of Stitch-a-Long 3.0 with Crispina (Sondra and Mary Margaret too).

Last April I hosted my first ever Rags to Riches Textile Upcycling Summit - 3 solid days of the most DELICIOUS awesome sauce EVER!  Over 20 leaders in the Textile Upcycling arena gathered virtually to present their experience and share their gifts to an audience filled with delight and attention from across the world.  (Rags to Riches Textile Upcycling Summit will be back in 2023)

ONE of those amazing change-makers is Mary Margaret Pettway.  Mary Margaret is a Gee’s Bend quilter and in my opinion, Gee’s Bend is the birthplace of North American Textile Upcycling.  

So, it is obvs imperative that any Textile Upcycling Summit, pay homage to our heritage by featuring Gee’s Bend and honoring the generations of inspiration this remarkable community of fine art quilters continues to share.  

Mary Margaret and I had our share of hiccups getting her Summit presentation prepared.  We had to work around wonky tech issues based in terrible connectivity, a time difference, a car accident, AND we were matched up kind of late in our Summit planning process by another Gee’s Bend Quilter who came upon a scheduling conflict.  Yet still, we were able to make it happen - as a matter of fact, Mary Margaret was our only presenter who joined the Summit live and everyone LOVED meeting her and having a completely candid presentation

Through all the frustrations and disconnections there was always a bright smiling voice on the other end with a can-do, happy to help demeanor.  We got to be friendly.

During one of our conversations, I learned that Mary Margaret doesn’t have sufficient workspace.  She quilts in her small, multi-generational home where she doesn’t have room to spread out a bed-sized quilt.

When she shared her conundrum with me, in my head I was kinda horrified. 

See, I pulled this quote from the Souls Grown Deep website: 

Hailed by the New York Times as “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced,” Gee’s Bend quilts constitute a crucial chapter in the history of American art and today are in the permanent collections of over 20 leading art museums.

How could this be? 

With work in the permanent collections of 20+ top-notch art museums across the world yet these artists don’t have sufficient workspace!?  Nevermind her lack-luster connectivity and limited access to reliable transportation.  Isn’t it time that we are able to celebrate those who have given so much by offering them comfort so that they can carry our heritage to future generations?  Isn’t it time that Gee’s Bend Quilters have what will enable them to make more of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced?

Holy Crap, you guys!?  We have the power to change this.

Who wants in?

A Stitch-a-Long is in order!

After the Summit, I asked Mary Margaret if she would be into the idea of helping me run a Stitch-a-Long to raise funds for her Quilting Studio - and she said, ‘Well Sure!’

Between my asking, and her, ‘Well Sure’, there was a bunch of things to workout and explain that helped her understand what I was actually talking about that will help you understand too.

This is Stitch-a-Long 3.0.

Stitch-a-Long 3.0 (SAL 3.0) is a collaborative creative textile upcycling FUNdraiser and YOU can participate!  

It will be team taught by Sondra Primeaux, of UnRuffled and our trusty, creative and awesome Stitcherhood Community Manager; Mary Margaret Pettway, fourth generation Gee’s Bend Quilter, Public Speaker, Design Collaborator, and Board Chair of Souls Grown Deep, and Me, Crispina ffrench, your host here, at Rags to Riches Textile Upcycling Summit, and RTRTU Podcast too.

Anyone can join.  

Hand sewers of all skill-levels are welcome to join and make a 12”x12” quilt square that will be incorporated into a quilt made in Gee’s Bend.

Once squares are complete and returned for next steps in our quilt making process, donations will be sought.  We are planning an expansive marketing campaign and requesting all participants to help with this aspect of our collab too.  100% of the proceeds will support Mary Margaret’s quilting studio.

SAL3.0 costs $97 to participate, and one can also purchase a kit to make a quilt square, the cost for participation with a kit is $197.  Kits are only available until Sunday 7/24/22 at midnight.  (We have to compile kits and then ship out in time for our community sewing circles/lessons.)

Each participant will hand stitch a single 12”x12” (or 30.5 x 30.5cm) quilt square and we will teach you exactly how.

Participating stitchers are asked to commit documenting their process by taking photos and sharing their images along the way in our private SAL 3.0 Group in Stitcherhood. We even provide a list of shots to capture from unboxing a kit or taking ‘before’ pictures of materials used to compile a kit, to dropping completed SAL 3.0 squares in the mailbox.

Once the quilt squares are complete, they are mailed to UnRuffled, Sondra Primeaux's Austin TX studio, with the provided shipping label, where they’ll be photographed and compiled into a quilt top.  

Next stop - Gee's Bend!  
Our SAL3.0 Quilt Top and a couple gorgeous lightweight wool blankets donated by a friend to use for batting, will be carefully packed in a box and sent off to Mary Margaret who will do the actual quilting in Gee’s Bend.

HOW do the squares actually get made and what is the project timeline?

Great Question!

Right now YOU can join Sal 3.0!  Register here to participate with, or without, a kit from my studio.  (Kits will no longer be available after Sunday July 24, 2022 at midnight EST.)

The deadline for participating with a kit from my shop is Sunday July 24th at midnight

OUr deadline for signing up to participate without a purchased kit is Friday August 19th.  

We will show you just exactly HOW to compile your very own SAL 3.0 Kit using fabrics you probably already have on hand right here, as a blog post, in the coming days.  

AND 

If you are in the market for upcycled quilting cottons to incorporate, my friend Kathryn runs a fabric shop full of recycled fabric stashes called Swansons Fabrics.  She is offering a sweet discount to SAL3.0 participants that will come via email when you register.

All participants should have their kits in hand and ready to sew by noon EST on Sunday, August 21st for our first hour-long sewing circle.

There are four hour-long instructional Zoom sewing circles, at noon EST (New York City time) on each of these dates:

  • Sunday August 21, 2022
  • Wednesday August 24, 2022
  • Sunday August 28, 2022
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022

SAL3.0 quilt squares are designed to take about 3 hours for an average hand sewer to complete.  Some participants might want to embellish their work investing additional time along with their extra detail.   Other sewers will want to keep things super simple staying well inside the allotted sewing hours to finish their square.  Both are equally acceptable, the diversity adding richness to the finished quilt/s.

Completed SAL3.0 squares are sent on to Sondra postmarked no later than September 7, 2022 using a prepaid return shipping label sent in an email for easy printing.   

It feels like being a kid on Christmas when the squares fill the snail mailbox!  I'm so excited for Sondra to share that feeling of being hardly able to wait to get inside before opening them.  The surprise and gift of individual beauty of each square carries.   

She'll capture the whole process from overflowing mailbox to completing the quilt top with fun photos shared in the SAL3.0 Stitcherhood group and on Instagram etc....

Participants are asked to capture their processes too - with a simple list of images to capture and share in the SAL3.0 Stitcherhood group and on Instagram etc to build interest and intrigue.  

Four SAL3.0 squares showing how the Funflower image comes together - Green hearts will become 4-leaf clovers with the addition of more squares

Next up, FUNdraising commences.  

Each SAL has been a little different in this area.  As I write this post we are leaning in the direction of using GoFundMe to funnel donations directly to Mary Margaret.  

Each $50 donation gets your name in the proverbial hat for a chance to be the owner of the fruits of our labor.  Marketing materials are supplied to SAL3.0 participants (and anyone else who wants to promote the fundraiser) to help build our FUNdraising revenue - so that we can fully fund Mary Margaret's very humble dream quilting studio.

Promotional opportunities in like-minded circles are our focus.  I publish guest blog entries, participate in podcast features, and a initiate a solid email and social media campaign to build awareness of SAL3.0

There are so many ways to participate in SAL3.0.  

  • Maybe you are one of over 300 voters who chimed in with your favorite SAL3.0 Quilt Square Design on Facebook, Instagram, or on Ragtimes (THANK YOU for sharing your insights)
  • Are you a textile-centric creative looking to add meaning and fun to your year without a huge time commitment or expense?  Participating in SAL3.0 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it will change lives.
  • It could be that you are excited to follow along right here, staying in the loop for when donations open so you can get your chance to support our textile upcycling heritage and increase your odds of taking what might be, the most amazing quilt ever made, home.

Do you want to join as a sewer and still have a few questions?  Here are a few of the FAQs we are hearing...

What fabrics do I need to make my own kit?

Natural fibers are first choice for this one.  Cotton or Linen most ideal.  You will need:

  • a 12” x 12” (or 30.5 X 30.5cm) square cut from something in white, ivory, cream.  
  • Seven, preferably different, small colorful scraps (no smaller than 4.5” x 3”) of woven cotton, or linen, or silk etc in red, orange, fuchsia etc, solids or patterns, to be used for Funflower Petals, 
  • a roughly 6”x6” square of a dark colored patterned fabric that will be used for the pie-shaped middle of the Funflower 
  • a small scrap of green cloth, no smaller than 2”x2” to make a single heart-shaped leaf of a four-leaf-clover
  • embroidery floss in 3 or 4 different colors
  • Hand sewing needle easy to thread with three micro-strands of embroidery floss
  • A handful of straight pins
  • Vanishing ink fabric marker OR Tracing paper
  • Fabric scissors
  • Our PDF download with pattern pieces

OPTIONAL

  • Beeswax thread conditioner or lip balm

What comes with the kit?

Our kits include everything you need to complete your quilt square minus the scissors.  

What happens if I can’t attend the live sessions?

Each of the live Zoom Sewing Circles will be recorded and posted in our SAL3.0 Stitcherhood Group where they will be accessible to all participants to watch (or re-watch)

What do you get when you register?

Participants in SAL3.0 get:

  • A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with world renown textile upcyclers
  • Confidence knowing that they are part of what is right in the world
  • To support, collaborate and celebrate Gee’s Bend Quilters
  • A 60-day membership in Stitcherhood where the SAL3.0 Group is hosted, our live Zoom teaching sessions are accessed and recordings shared.  
  • An informative and fun email with:
    • Downloadable PDF Quilt Square Pattern for those who did not purchase a kit
    • Instructions for material selection and kit curation
    • Comprehensive schedule for SAL3.0 event
    • Shot list for photos to document the SAL3.0 journey
    • Swanson's Fabrics discount code
    • Link for 60-day Stitcherhood Membership
    • Contact information for troubleshooting
    • Directions for optimal SAL3.0 participation
  • Admission to 4 hour-long Sewing Circles/Teaching Sessions team taught by Sondra Primeaux, Mary Margaret Pettway, and Crispina ffrench
    • Sewing Circles are at noon EST on August 7, 10, 14, and 17, 2022
  • Stitchbook Pages for each stitch used 
  • Their minds BLOWN by the power of this collaboration.

This is what Debbie, who has participated in each SAL shared about that:

What happens if too many people sign up?

Following Mary Margaret’s lead, we will leave registration open until August 5th to accommodate as many participants as we can.  Looks like we might just be making more than one quilt.

How will you participate?  

Did you vote?

Are you joining the community of participating stitchers?

Maybe you are planning to donate to the Gee's Bend Quilting Studio Fund?  (more on how in a future post)

Consider the positive impact we can create, in the lives of Gee's Bend Quilters, in our own lives - by working together on this super fun and meaningful project, and in the lives of all those who learn about and donate to our collaboration.  Now, take a minute and commit to participating in all the ways you can.  Gift yourself a dose of AWESOME by submerging yourself in the creative community and magical collaboration that is Stitch-a-Long 3.0

You will not regret it, promise.

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