…and so my sewing has to change.
I spent this week realising just how much I didn’t know about the experience of being black in America, or in my own community. I thought I was informed, I thought I was progressive, and somehow I still had no clue. My path forward is clear as an individual (educate myself) and as a teacher (educate others), but what do I so as a sewist? There has got to be more than supportive Instagram posts.
One step I’m taking is to put my money where my mouth is, and buy patterns and fabric from Black-owned and ally-owned shops. That means seeking out Black-owned businesses that I haven’t tried before, and shopping at indie companies who made quality statements and commitments this past week.
And so, my new dress!
I spent Blackout Tuesday studying anti-Black racism in Canada by listening to Desmond Cole’s audiobook of The Skin We’re In, and watching this free course on Aboriginal World Views and Education. I needed something to keep my hands busy during all that thinking, so I bought and sewed my first pattern from Style Sew Me! It’s a Black-owned pattern line designed by Eryn, who makes trendy patterns up to 53″ hip.
(Side note: I always thought the logo said “Sew Style Me”, but the website address showed I was wrong!”
I’ve had my eye on quite a few of her designs in the past after seeing them on blogger friends, but I went with the Naomi because it fit the yardage in my stash. This pattern is designed for a woven, but I sewed it in a lovely midweight rayon knit. I initially cut the pattern one size down from my measurements, but ended up taping the paper back on to make it true to size. As they website says, these patterns have limited ease!
The dress pattern has no darts, and adjusts with long ties at the shoulders. I made a shelf-bra facing instead of a full ining as instructed. I think this is going to be a perfect “Presentable Pyjamas” (when you don’t care if it looks like pyjamas but you want to be able to answer the door). Of course I can wear it as a dress but pretty pyjamas are actually more exciting in my wardrobe!
I’m also choosing to support businesses that stood up for anti-racism in the past week. This may not always be possible – for example, neither of my local fabric chain options spoke out, but it’s just not feasable for me to order everything online all the time. I can however chose where I spend my online dollars, and be mindful of who I promote via tags on my social media account. This rayon floral knit comes from Style Maker Fabrics who did make a statement this week about Black Lives Matter and the #amplifymelanatedvoices hashtag.
How long can I keep this up, and how will I adapt over time? I really can’t say. There needs to be room for companies to make the right choice in the future, and acknowledgement that making one statement is not a good indication of the companies’ actual investment in anti-racism. I’m a work in progress as I try to re-educate myself about the systemic racism I grew up with, and no action will ever be perfect. Better to start somewhere though, and using my sewing dollars wisely is a good place to start.
P.S. There are lists and boycotts in development by the BIPOC that I know will be revealed in the next few days. We’ll have more about it on the Sewcialists soon! This is just my own take to get started.