The second Sunday of January marked the first meeting of the Central Iowa Sewing Rebellion, a free monthly sewing workshop. The day was cold and the air was crisp, but it was warmer than the days before the Rebellion and, comparatively, was a great improvement. We began the meeting with good food, conversation and hot coffee to warm up our minds and bodies. The workshop was focused on mending, which we learned and then immediately put into practice. We learned how to sew on buttons, fix button holes, use patches and stitch up holes and seams. Two sweaters, a shirt, a skirt and a jacket were all made new again and inserted back into the cycle of use for many years to come.
For me, the meeting was a momentous occasion, the foundation of a new chapter of the Sewing Rebellion, and the establishment of my own role as host of our local group, becoming the protÃ©gÃ© to the original founder of the Rebellion, Frau Fiber. It has been almost two years to the day since I attended my first Sewing Rebellion in Chicago. After a year and a half of participation and collaboration I graduated from college and relocated to Iowa. Forming a Sewing Rebellion here became a priority for me and finding a space to meet was the only missing component. The space and the culture of the Sewing Rebellion needed to work in unison – to fit together in a way that encouraged healthy growth for both. A friend told me of a space her friends were involved with: the Ames Progressive Office space. Shortly after contacting the managers of the space, we set a first meeting time, hung fliers and the Central Iowa Sewing Rebellion was officially formed.
The Sewing Rebellion encourages the reuse, renovation and recycling of existing garments and textiles in the creation of unique items tailored to your own taste and body shape. The Rebellion began in the fall of 2006 at Mess Hall, a community cultural center on the North Side of Chicago. It began as a free monthly sewing workshop and clothing exchange. In January 2007, the participants decided that a rebellion couldn’t happen just once a month. So they began holding weekly meetings on Sunday afternoons. In May 2007, Frau Fiber became an itinerant sewing advocate, yet the Sewing Rebellion at Mess Hall continues today.
Frau Fiber’s work stems from three generations of domestic tailors and industrial seamstresses.Â She is an itinerant textile worker and activist, who freely distributes her knowledge of apparel production to the masses. She envisions herself as a competitor with China in the global production of apparel and hopes to transform the value of the labor of apparel workers around the globe. Toward this end, she began the Sewing Rebellion, a network of free workshops and community gatherings that has occurred in Chicago, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Denver, Lancaster, PA, Sheboygan, WI, and now Ames. The Rebellion empowers participants to emancipate themselves from the global garment industry by learning how to alter, mend and make their own garments. The purpose of the meetings is to introduce a new way for people to consider their engagement with the world, their purchasing power and their non-purchasing power.
All are welcome! The Central Iowa Sewing Rebellion will meet on the second Sunday of each month from noon to 4 pm at the Ames Progressive Office (118 Hayward, Suite 3). February’s workshop will be focused on object deconstruction and pattern reconstruction. We’ll learn to make patterns for our favorite garments and accessories; a shirt and a reusable grocery bag will be used for the workshop demo. Bring garments to mend and deconstruct and food to share.