Hi, everyone! I hope you had a good July. It’s been good to have a blogging break, and it’s good to be back. Despite my break from blogging, I haven’t taken much of a break from sewing…except for during the road trip we took out to the Midwest. We visited family and friends in Michigan, which was really nice. My Mom is a long-time quilter (and an apparel sewer before that), and we often make the rounds of the fabric stores where she lives. We didn’t have quite as much time to do that this time, so instead, she took me on a little field trip to learn about Sew Loved in South Bend, Indiana, where she has been helping out as a quilting mentor. I thought I would share our trip with you.
Sew Loved is located in downtown South Bend. Here is what they say about themselves: “Sew Loved welcomes all women to our Center. Our mission is to teach sewing and quilting to underserved women and teen girls in the South Bend, IN area. We provide a positive ‘hands on’ program for women to learn and practice a variety of life-enhancing skills, nurturing each woman’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Our sewing, quilting and other programs are offered free of charge.”
I had an opportunity to meet Vicki Miles, the director, as well as a few of the ladies who were at work organizing supplies or working on quilts. Sew Loved is a nonprofit organization that uses sewing to empower women, teach new skills, and form community through sewing. I was really impressed by Vicki’s dedication to the organization as well as how deeply she had thought through the best ways to serve the women who participate.
It was really fun to see the new space they had just moved into. They are still organizing and sorting through donations, but what organizing they have had a chance to do is really impressive!
I got to look around at all the quilts, including several from “ugly fabric” challenges, and talk with Linda, a woman who has 30 years of apparel sewing experience, but has recently fallen in love with quilting (you can be sure I took the opportunity to ask her all my apparel questions!).
(The two quilts below are from the “ugly fabric” challenge, where two participants used the same fabrics that they thought were ugly to make two completely different quilts.)
Linda also showed me their mid-arm quilting machine, which was really cool and something I hadn’t seen before, as well as the new lighting system that one of the ladies’ husbands had installed. It’s amazing what a big difference a simple change like good lighting can make!
Linda had made a number of the quilts hanging on the walls. She also showed us some of the quilt tops she had recently finished, which were amazing. When you talk with Linda about quilts, you hear an artist talking back to you.
I also met Janet who finished her very first quilt while we were there! The women in the program make a table topper they can keep as their first project, followed by two quilts for donation. The fourth project is a quilt of any size that they can keep if they choose to.
It was heartwarming to see some of the fabric donations, many sent by husbands whose fabric-loving wives had passed away. Many people had spent large amounts of time organizing and systematizing all the donations so quilters could easily find what they were looking for to achieve their creative visions.
Next year Sew Loved will be partnering with The Crossing School for at-risk youth to teach a sewing class for girls, and they are currently writing a grant in the hopes of getting enough matching machines so that everyone will be on the same page equipment-wise. (UPDATE: Since I began writing this, they have met their funding goal for these machines, thanks to donors and generous discounts from the company they are buying the machines from!)
My Mom (who is also a mentor at Sew Loved) showed me the Christmas Trees that they make as a fundraiser for the organization.
Sew Loved sells the trees at various craft fairs and other events as a way to raise money for the organization. These ones have been assembled but are still waiting to be decorated.
All equipment and supplies at Sew Loved are free for participants to use, which translates into a lot of hard work for Vicki tracking down donations and supplies. She definitely seems up to the task, however. I got the impression that Vicki was a force to be reckoned with in the best possible way–the way that means she is fiercely loyal and devoted to the ladies she works with and the organization as a whole. She also has some seriously amazing quilting skills! She showed me some of her quilts in progress…and they were mind-blowing! Clearly, she knows her stuff.
Despite my trip to the Midwest being light on fabric shopping (only a visit to Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI), this trip to Sew Loved helped prevent any sewing withdrawal I was in danger of. 😉 If you find yourself cleaning out your fabric stash or sewing supplies, and want to make a donation, they accept 100% cotton quilting fabrics (fat quarter size or larger), Christmas fabrics for their annual fund-raising project, sewing machines in working order, sewing/quilting tools, or monetary (tax-deductible) donations for overhead expenses. If you happen to be in the area, you can get involved as a participant in their sessions or as a sewing mentor and friend.
Here is all the contact info:
103 W Wayne St., Suite 400
South Bend, IN 46601
1320 De Luna Way
South Bend, IN 46614
Vicki Miles, Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone number: 574-329-2639