Do you want to learn some new techniques? Are you seeking inspiration? Are you new to sewing? Or do you just want to spend time with others doing what you love? Then a sewing group is the perfect place for you. Groups are springing up all over the country at a great speed as more and more people are getting into sewing and crafting.
Centuries ago sewing used to be a social activity for women from the upper classes; they would sit and sew with their ladies, and chat and gossip whilst they did so. The resulting products were mainly ornamental: bed hangings, wall hangings and decorative pillows. Whereas women from working classes used to sew out of necessity, making clothes to wear and bedding to keep warm. Now sewing is a craft to be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds and experience. The recent economic crisis has seen people turning to sewing as a way of saving money. Wanting to learn how to make or repair their own clothes instead of having to buy more.
Nowadays from your traditional Guild groups (quilting, embroidery, weaving etc) to your more modern Stitch & Bitch groups there is something for everyone. Some groups are dedicated to a specific type of sewing, such as quilting or embroidery others are open to everyone engaging in any kind of craft, or as one said to me ‘anything with a needle' whether it is crochet, knitting or sewing.
You will find that some groups are happy to teach newcomers to the craft and offer regular workshops and talks as well as more experienced members passing on their wisdom to the newer members. Others are just a place for people to bring their own project and relax and chat whilst they work. Certain groups follow a strict timetable and have things planned for each meeting a year in advance and other are less formal and just take things as they come. They run at varying times of the day, and some are weekly, some fortnightly, some monthly and some in-between. There are groups that work on set projects, or communal projects where as others bring their own work and UFO's (UnFinished Objects) from home. You can now even join a ‘virtual' sewing group, where you can chat with fellow members online, or by e-mail and upload pictures of your projects for all to see.
One common theme amongst many groups is that most tend to do some work for charity whether it is once a year getting together and making a communal quilt to be auctioned off, or every week making items to be sold through local charity shops. Some groups are solely focused on making items for charity, whether it's blankets for their local hospice or key rings and bags to be sold at fetes or through local shops.
Often groups offer trips to sewing related exhibitions and shows and often hold exhibitions of their work so the public can come and admire what they have made. There are also swap shops, bring and buys, show and tells, coffee mornings, nights out and a myriad of other activities. It opens up a whole new social life, with people that have similar interests to you.
So where do you look to find your local sewing group? There are 100's if not thousands of them out there but it can be difficult to find them. A good place to start is your local community centre or church as they often run, or are the venue for sewing groups. There are websites that bring together all types of groups such as:
www.thesewingdirectory.co.uk - On our site you can search by area for your local group
There are also websites that list specific types of sewing groups such as:
http://www.quiltersguild.org.uk/ - The Quilters guild's website with details of their groups throughout the UK as well as more information about the Guild.
http://www.embroiderersguild.com/ - The Embroiders Guild's website with details of their groups throughout the UK as well as more information about the Guild.
http://www.wsd.org.uk/ -Website for The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers where you can search by group name (generally the town or county).
http://stitchnbitch.org/ - To find knitting & sewing groups in your area (predominantly knitting).
Of course if you cannot find a local group in your area there is one further option....start your own. Do you know people who share your interest? Would the local church or community centre hire you a room? Could a few of you club in together to cover the rent and insurance, or could you fund raise to get the money you need? The ‘meetup' website above lists details of people looking for groups in their area. If there's enough of you why not all work together to get a group set up. Most websites (including The Sewing Directory) will list the details of your group for free. If you get in touch with the local press they may cover it in the local paper. Or an advert in the post office might catch people's eyes.
If you so set up your own group don't forget to put a free listing on The Sewing Directory so other people can find you.