Sewing Is Connection

Sewing Is Connection

In the nearly 20 years I worked as a psychotherapist, facilitating group and individual therapy with kids and young adults, I learned that the solution was almost always in connection and relatedness. When kids are able to connect to their families, connect to the good adults in their lives, and connect with kids their age, most of the rest eventually settles into place.

As I drive around the neighborhood in the early morning, I see clusters of kids standing apart, avoiding eye contact, staring at their phones while they wait for for the bus. I remember meeting some of my best friends while waiting for the bus but I'm not sure face-to-face connections are happening as often these days.

Sewing connects fabric but it also connects people: friends, families, communities, and generations. 

On the first day of class, each of my students learn that I expect them to help someone else if they have mastered a skill. I also encourage kids to ask for help from each other. Your kids may come home from camp and tell you, "Ms. Ratzel loses her glasses EVERY SINGLE DAY!" Shhhhhh. Here's a secret. I know exactly where my glasses are but when I "can't find them," the kids are forced to struggle through threading their machine on their own or they have to ask a new friend for help. Asking for help and accepting help are relationship glue. 

Sewing is just risky enough and challenging enough that it requires full attention. I've never had a student reach for a phone during sewing class. And the amazing thing that happens when kids are screen free is that they begin talking to each other. Sometimes, when I circle the kids up for a hand sewing lesson, as soon as they've mastered the steady rhythm and soothing repetition of a straight stitch, the stories start tumbling out. I imagine this is the kind of community connection people have sought from sewing circles for centuries. It is impossible to stitch in silence and there is so much real connection in our stories. 

The other genuinely beautiful thing that happens, usually after the first day or two of camp is that several kids will return to tell us all about how their new sewing skill gave them an opportunity to work on a sewing project with an important adult in their lives. Or they return to share about some new family lore they've learned, maybe about a great-grandparent who made their mom a special doll or a loved blanket that was mended. Sewing connects communities and generations because every family had a sewing machine somewhere and someone who showed their love with a needle and thread. 

I left my work as a psychotherapist in 2019 to begin laying the foundations for Sew My Goodness. I live and sew in Austin, Texas with my husband, three kids, a hamster (he doesn't sew), and a few dozen sewing machines. I come from a long line of seamstresses, embroiderers, quilters, darners, hemmers, scrap savers, upcyclers, artists, improvisors, and connection makers. For me, sewing is utilitarian, it is art, it is healing, and it is connection. In addition to private sewing camps and classes, Sew My Goodness offers "Sewcial" Clubs, camps, and enrichment classes throughout Round Rock ISD. 


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