Last week I reached out to a local branch of the American Sewing Guild. I inquired about the location and timing of meetings, and the president replied to my email that the annual retreat was this weekend, and that I should come if I could. I have been needing an excuse to get out of town, so I conferred with Sweetie, scrambled to get my ducks in a row, booked a hotel room on Friday and drove out (about an hour away) on Saturday afternoon.
I found the party well underway. There were about 12-15 sewists, many of them quilters but a handful working on garments (sometimes in addition to quilts, or even quilting garments), crammed into a small block of rooms on the 3rd floor of a Holiday Inn Express. They cheerfully welcomed me in to the fold, fed me potluck dinner, and cheered for me as I worked on my first lace bra. Many of them had known each other for ten years or more, and they helped each other with fittings and block arrangements and technical challenges. A miniature Wonder Woman costume, several quilt tops, a quilted vest, a muslin of a jacket, and untold quantities of quilt blocks emerged from the chaos of fabric, hum of sewing machines, and chatter of women. It was a pleasant way to spend 24 hours.
There was an interlude in the hotel hot tub, which was quite pleasant.
Saturday night I finished my bra, and Sunday morning a pink velvet peplum dress before I left.
I don’t think I will be going back, though. It’s not that the ladies were not lovely, they were. They just were not my…peers. I felt young, and liberal, and out of place. Even though there may have been one or two my age, many were grandmothers. I felt different, and not just because I have colorful hair or clothes, but because I felt like I was from a different, more progressive world. There were so many conversations about “Men” and “husbands” and tired old stereotypes about them. There was conversation about revealing costumes and some veiled slut-shaming. There were SO MANY conversations about diets and food moralizing. No one could just eat the goddamned Strawberry Cheesecake Ladyfingers and not talk about how “bad” it was for their figure or how many carbs it contained.
Rocking my fatkini in the hot tub, I refused to fat-shame myself. I showed off my costumes and my Frizz-Toddler-Grandma outfits to the grandmas making costumes for toddlers. I talked about how Sweetie enables and helps me find time to sew, even this weekend when it wasn’t easy to do so. I took a ton of selfies. I was myself, but I was alone.
Returning home to family and friends who “get” me, I was glad to be back. Now I need to find or create a real-life group of like-minded sewists. I know they are out there, because I have met a ton online. We just need to have a retreat and throw our own damn party.