Call to Commemorate

March 17, 2012


Infiltrate contemporary garment manufacturing by commemorating the Triangle Shirt Fire of 1911. 101 years ago, the US garment industry was rocked by a factory fire which killed 146 workers. This tragedy transformed the garment industry in the United States forever and it was the catalyst for establishing the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

Fast forward 101 years, garment workers earn less today, then their counterparts in 1911, and fires continue to break out around the world in Bangladesh, China, and India.

Take the plight of the garment worker to the streets!

Stencil a contemporary “shirtwaist”, IE t-shirts, made in Bangladesh, China or India with one of the following questions:

In your factory, are the doors locked?
In your factory, are the windows barred?
In your factory, are the elevators locked?
In your factory, do you have access to fire escapes?

On Sunday March 25 for a 12 hours shift, wear the stenciled t-shirt, go shopping at the Gap, Forever 21 or H&M, and start a conversation with anyone who reacts to your shirt. Use this opportunity to INFORM, EDUCATE and ACT!

-Frau Fiber


International Love a Textile Worker Day

February 13, 2012


Do you know someone who is skilled at using a sewing machine, tailors suits and dresses; hand sews, knits, crochets or weaves, either professionally or as a hobby. If the answer is yes, let them know you appreciate their work by giving them a hand message.

The hand is one of the most useful structures in the human body and sets us apart from most other animals. With 19 bones in the hand and 14 small joints for movement and numerous muscles, ligaments and sheaths, a loving hand massage can help a garment worker recover from hours of unappreciated labor. Here are ten simple steps for giving a textile worker’s gentle message to let them know you appreciate how hard they work.

1. Start with the person’s dominant hand, since that hand probably worked harder during their 18-hour shift.

2. Take the hand gently into yours and pour a few drops of lotion onto the top of the 

3. Rub the top of the hand gently with a circular motion using all four fingers, working from the large part of the hand up through the base of the fingers and then to the tips of the fingers.

4. Then with your thumb, apply a bit more pressure to the top of the hand, and massage the top of the hand with an up and down motion, working from the wrist area up through the base of the fingers and then out to the fingertips. Apply more lotion if the hand feels dry to the touch.

5. Turn the hand over and pour a few more drops of the lotion candle into the palm.

6. Begin working the palm by placing your thumb into the palm of the hand with your four fingers on the other side of the hand.

7. Gently press around the palm, and the thumb, and use your thumb in a circular motion – first in the palm, then around the base of each finger extending out to the tips.

8. From there, return to the palm, and continue the circular motion down the palm to the wrist. Do this on the entire palm.

9. Shake the hand slightly to check its state of relaxation. The hand should feel loose at the wrist and relaxed.

10. Start all over again on the other hand!


February 3, 2012

After some serious face time with both Isa (of the Mending Circle) and Frau Fiber (SR founder), I think we have our vision for future of SR-NYC. Looking back over the past few years our main concern was that, despite the wonderfulness of seeing the friendly faces of our regulars at monthly meetings, we felt that the original radical nature of Sewing Rebellion was beginning to fade.  So in a return to our subversive stitching roots we are going to try something that Isa describes as a surprise present in your email, and I describe as a fight-clubesque call to action (for those of you who are familiar with fight club and naturally concerned, don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to blow up a bad piece of public art or hit a stranger, I just really like that movie). What we’re going to do is create Sewing Missions, which will appear in your email inbox from time to time with an instruction sheet and a challenge. The challenge might be something like “darn a sock in public” or “teach someone who fears the sewing machine to sew a straight line on one”. We may ask you to do a mission on your own or to get friends to join you. It may involve trusting a stranger, or even teaching one.

Over the past month of blog silence we’ve talked a lot with each other about privilege and class, about skill-building and skill-sharing, about what sewing has been and is becoming for different groups of people, and what we want it to be for SR. We talked about how to use sewing to break social norms, class divides, and language barriers. We thought about sewing as a tool for empowerment.

So be on the lookout soon for your first mission, and I would love to hear any and all ideas you have for future missions for the group (because I always run out of ideas just when things are getting good). So, for my final fight club parody of the day: We are Jack’s needle and thread. Go forth and sew something interesting.

Reflections: where do we go from here?

January 3, 2012

Sewing Rebellion-NYC went through a lot of changes at the end of 2011. First there was the closing of our beloved Spacecraft (a closing that was bittersweet, however, as it came partly due to the lovely Cristina of Spacecraft having a second kid, whom I will sew with someday). The Textile Arts Center became so popular that they expanded their classes to meet demand, and Mending Circle became one of a number of groups sharing space on Thursday nights.

All this led to some reflection at the beginning of 2012. We’ve been going strong since June of 2009, two and a half years, and it might be time for a check in. What is our mission? Are we doing the right things to realize it? Should we keep meeting regularly or focus on bigger events to reach more people? Should we do more research and writing, or let it be about building skills and spreading what we know? Do we want instructors? What sort of group do we want to be?

This Thursday, January 5th, will be the last time the Mending Circle meets on the traditional first Thursday of the month at TAC. When we meet this month, in the midst of sewing machines and sock darning, I’ll ask for your ideas, feedback, and thoughts on SR. A lot is changing, and we’ll change with it, so you tell me: where do we go from here?

Heads Up!!

December 8, 2011

Hi folks. This is what we get for not having MC on our regularly scheduled first Thursday. Sadly (well, sadly for us) Textile Arts Center is so popular that they have classes meeting downstairs and a new gallery show going up upstairs, so we have to cancel MC tonight for lack of space. So, let’s kick this instructables style. Anyone who is darning, felting, or dealing with winter holes in another way, I challenge you to help the stitching newbies by making either:

1. An instruction sheet, a la the project instructions we have online or

2. An actual instructable. Like this one.

I’ll happily post your instructions online to share with the (part of the) world (who reads this blog).


December Mending Circle

November 30, 2011

Darn it, another hole in another sweater and don’t even get me started on the toes of my tights. We haven’t even begun heavy snowy NY winter and already wear and tear have begun to infiltrate my closet. Especially the tear part. So for December we’re going to mend the holes we can and use the ones we can’t. Holes, it turns out, are beautiful design elements.

December MC will take place on Thursday Dec. 8 (NOT Dec 1), at the Textile Arts Center.

Come mend with us before the new year hits. That way you won’t have to resolve to re-use more. 🙂

SR is in the news!

October 27, 2011

Check it out. 🙂


And view a whole bunch of sean’s great PHOTOS here:

a AP Caption Isa Rodrigues (center) teaches a dyeing class at the Brooklyn chapter of Sewing Rebellion

Mending Circle: The Great Clothing Swap

October 26, 2011

Date: Thursday, November 3, 6-9pm

Location: Textile Arts Center. 505 Carroll St. in Park Slope. Two blocks from the R train stop at Union St., or a 15 minute walk from Atlantic station.

Instructions: Please bring clothing that you would be proud to pass on (aka, no old sweats, unless they are super comfy) and clothing that has a story. The story can be simple, eg. “I love this dress but am making peace with the fact that I really shouldn’t wear it anymore”, or complicated “This was the shirt I wore on my first outing with my ex, and I left it at their house ‘by accident’ and then…”.
Though you need not tell anyone which garments you brought, we will ask you to write out your story and attach it to the garments you bring so you can pass along the ‘life story’ with the physical object. In order to make sure we have enough to go around, please take no more clothes than you bring.

Extras: As with every Mending Circle, sewing machines, hand sewing needles, thread, scissors, etc. will be provided free for your use. So if what you find is almost perfect but needs to be taken in, or out, or up, or needs pockets, we can do that too.

Want to know more about Mending Circle?

Changing Seasons

October 15, 2011

Dear SR NY folks,

With the changing seasons comes news of change. While the Mending Circle will continue to meet on the first Thursday of the month, Sewing Rebellion @ Spacecraft has to go on hiatus for a while unless someone (ideally someone who lives in North Brooklyn) can take up the mantle of host for a few months. Between the L train only running when it wants to and my growing need to spend my Sundays in the studio to meet deadlines, I’m not going to be able to make it north until the spring. That said, SR has always been an “us thing” rather than a “me thing”, and I would be happy to work with anyone interested to keep our third Sunday sessions open to those who want to meet. You can comment here or email at Here’s hoping with fingers crossed.


This Thursday’s Mending Circle

October 5, 2011

Hi All,

We were planning to host this awesome clothing swap tomorrow but, due to various distractions like a never ending decentralized protest I’m sort of entranced by, we neglected to promote it at the level we would need to to get the most out of a clothes swap (you know how those things work- the more people and the more clothing the better).

So we’re postponing the swap one month and tomorrow, in solidarity with the folks on wall street who don’t have sewing machines, we’ll be demoing quick fixes that you can do using hand sewing. There will be machines available for use as always, and Isa and I will be planning the rest of the year’s MCs, so swing by with ideas or post suggestions here. I’ll make a flier for the NOVEMBER MC/clothing swap soon, and will post it in south and north Brooklyn.

p.s. if anyone knows how to darn, please please come by tomorrow. We get constant requests for darning demos but I’m pretty bad at it, so if you are a master darner your services are much in demand.