Black History Month Pattern Challenge with SewNaturalDane and Island Sewcialist

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Nateida Lathan is Sew Natural Dane on Instagram





Kiera Wood is Island Sewcialist on Instagram




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Lisa Woolfork 0:15

Hello Stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast. With more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax and get ready to get your stitch together.

They began the challenge with Myra of One Sew Sweet back in 2019 and this year for 2021 she's partnering with Kiera Wood, you might know them better as SewNatural Dane and Island Sewcialist and I am joined by them today on the program. So welcome so much Nateida and Kiera, welcome, welcome.

Nateida 1:09

Thank you so much, Lisa, for having us.

Kiera 1:13

Yes, it's a pleasure to be here.

Lisa Woolfork 1:16

It's so much fun. And I have to confess that I'm so glad to say that I've been following SewNatural Dane for quite some time and I participated in one of the Black History Month challenges. Who knows what time is, I think it was 2019, that's when I think I first participated, and I don't know if I participated in 2020 because I don't remember all of 2020 in a normal way, I have no idea what I did last year. So I had to go back and look at my records. I don't think I did. But, I am very excited about this year. So I'm grateful to have SewNatural Dane with us and I'm also super happy to have Island Sewcialist here as well, because I consider her my personal body double and whenever I see her in an outfit, I'm like, Oh, that looks good on us. So and this is so wonderful to be speaking with y'all in person. Welcome. Welcome, and welcome. Thank you.

Kiera 2:07

Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 2:09

I also have to confess that I had every intention here of making the Adrian blouse slash dress that I had been threatening to make since 2020, after I saw you in it and... I did not. I'm sorry to report that I'm not able to say that I'm currently wearing my Adrian blouse dress that I had been threatening to make all this time after I first saw you in it and fell in love with it. So...

Kiera 2:34

No, no, I was I was wondering what happened to that dress.

Lisa Woolfork 2:37

I'm telling you, I every time I see you I'm like 'That dress! I gotta make mine I've got to make mine!'. But then you make something else and I'm like, Oh wait, maybe I'll make that instead... or in addition to. I've already made a muslin. So I'm very close, I need to just do it. Time gets away.

Kiera 2:53

Hey listen, I'm holding you accountable for 2021.

Lisa Woolfork 2:58

Yes, that's right. I will not let 2021 pass without that dress made. I'm gonna I'm gonna trust me, you'll be the first person I tag in the photo of me wearing the dress, it will-

Kiera 3:06

Don't make me get out my belt now.

Lisa Woolfork 3:08

Exactly. I don't want to get in trouble. I don't want to have to beat the flip flop or the belt or the whatnot, or anything! Okay, so to get started, just give me- Can you all give me a sense of your thoughts about sewing challenges in general on Instagram. These have been pretty popular for quite some time, as the creative community has discovered Instagram and use it as a way to visually promote their creativity. So you see a lot of folks know painters and sewists, quilters, crocheters, knitters; who are doing a lot of great work on Instagram. Tell me a bit about your thoughts of a sewing challenge in general, how do you think that helps to build or shape community.

Nateida 3:50

At least from my perspective, I think sewing challenges are SO much fun, no matter where you are, in your stage of your sewing journey, at least for me when I got back into sewing full time, I grew up sewing, but then got away from it for many years, like many of us, but after I got back into it full time and really trying to get better at the craft, back in 2017, it was fun to see sometimes intimidating, depending on the challenge. But it was just fun to see people putting together challenges, and being able to just participate and have something to work towards someone who was getting back into sewing. But now that I have been sewing now for quite some time, it's just fun. It's fun to see even if I don't participate in the challenge it's fun to just follow the hashtags or look at the different accounts of different things people have created, because then that also encourages more creativity and maybe even inspire me to either try that pattern if it's a pattern I don't have, or a particular fabric, or something like that, but I think it's such a good way to really bring everyone together in the sewing community.

Lisa Woolfork 5:07

Yes, I really love that. I love this idea that somehow, through a sewing challenge, you're able to be incentivized to do your own... to do your own work. So it's not like you're trying to compete necessarily, with what somebody else is doing, it's about bringing more sewing into your daily life. That's really cool. Kiera, do you have any thoughts on the challenges or the Instagram community prompts in general?

Kiera 5:34

Yeah, for me, I only joined the sewing community in 2018. So I haven't been around on Instagram that long and I participated in a TON of sewing challenges since I joined Instagram. And I have to say, that contributed to not only my growth, I got a lot of followers just from people looking at the hashtag and discovering that I exist on my little tiny island over here in the corner. But I also got to meet SO many amazing people through challenges, like I met Nateida and Myra through their challenge in 2019. So that's just one example. And then you get to learn about different pattern designers, you get to learn about different parts of the world because, when you're taking part in a challenge with hundreds of different people, you get to see everyone's perspective and it is so inspirational, I get to share parts of my culture, I get to see how you guys do in the US, I get to see how the people in the UK do it. It's just really exciting to take part in challenges. But at the same time, I like what you said there, Lisa about it not being competitive. And sometimes it can feel a little bit competitive. And that is one of the aspects that we wanted to keep out our challenge this year. And I know that Myra and Nateida did that for the last two as well. It's just to make sure it is- it's fun, anyone can enter, the prizes are random; we just all come together to celebrate Black History Month, to celebrate the Black pattern designers and not necessarily compete. It's more of a sisterhood pushing event. So that's what I love about Instagram challenges.

Lisa Woolfork 7:14

Yes, I think that's such an excellent summary. Because this notion that people often say the phrase 'community over competition'-

Kiera 7:23


Lisa Woolfork 7:23

-'community over competition', but you don't see it that often. It feels like it's become a popular phrase to say, but it's not always something that gets executed, at least in a way that I can recognize easily. So the thing I love about what you said here is about this is a way for you to get introduced and welcomed into a community rather than feeling like you have to throw elbows or jostle for position or anything like that. So let me pivot to talk about- to ask you about- why focus on Black History Month, what made, Nateida, when you and Myra were first coming up with the idea for this challenge, What made you think of Black History Month and February as, as an important contribution to examine for the sewing community?

Nateida 8:13

This is such an easy answer. The challenge was first introduced in February 2019, but I came up with the idea, the summer of 2018. And it's mainly because- it's two things. I was thinking 'Oh, wouldn't it be fun to come up with a challenge that highlight like pattern designers?'. There really- at the time- there weren't really that many out there. I could count on one hand and I was like, I would love to just promote them and mind you at this time, Lisa, I barely had a blip on the radar so far as followers on Instagram. So little me was thinking, 'Oh, I'm gonna create a challenge' and then I decided, oh, February, that's Black History Month, but it's also my birthday month. So my birthday is February 7 and I was thinking, 'huh! this- that- will be perfect! This is my birthday month Black History Month, I'm gonna make everything that I wear that month. So why not just promote, specifically Black pattern designers?'. And so I reached out to Myra to see if it was something she would be interested in. She did have a few other things going on in her plate, but I was able to just draw her in and get her excited about it and she was so excited and gave me so many great ideas to really help kick things off. But that's pretty much where the focus came from. And with that, it really caused me, and of course, with Myra's help, to do a TON of research, because I have to admit that first year, while initially I knew a couple commercial patterns that had some of the big four that had pattern designers names attached to them, I knew who the indys were at the time, there weren't very many. And so it really caused me to do a lot of research. And we learned so much even doing the research, because we put out there who we knew and who we found from the pattern companies, most of them are vintage patterns or older patterns, but just to really start honing in and diving into that market. That at least for me, at that time I didn't see in the sewing community. Yes, there were, like I said, just a couple handful of Black indy pattern designers. But I felt 'why no one is promoting this in our sewing community'. And so I said, why not? Why not me, I'll do it.

Lisa Woolfork 10:43

I think this is so great. And one of the things I really love about it is how you went from something personal. You had already in the back of your mind, of course, that Black History Month is February, but it's also your birthday month. And so this notion that you could celebrate, in celebrating your birthday, you also called to celebrate something larger. And this notion that you could say, hey, for my birthday month, I'm going to wear everything I make, I'm going to make a lot of clothes for my birthday month, because this is the way I want to celebrate who I am and how I am, how I am moving through the digital space of Instagram, I also want to show off some of the great things that I've created. And then you say what else would be great? Just Black people in general. And I can go on and take this as an opportunity to do something that's for me, but also for the community. So in producing this, it's like you've given us all a birthday gift on your birthday. So it's really a beautiful celebration. And I'm so happy to hear about the origins of this challenge and how it came out of a celebratory spirit. And I think you can sense that all along from the very beginning. And so it's nice to know that is where the event has its roots. I wanted to ask about the research that you did tell me about what the research process was like? Did lots of people send you things? Did you ask questions of the community and get feedback? Did you have to go into archives? Did you have to do some deep dives into Google? How did you find out the things that you were able to put up for that first challenge?

Nateida 12:28

For me, again, I didn't have a lot of followers or anything on Instagram. So it was if I reached out to people, I'm thinking they're probably like, who is she? So I decided, besides the- any- companies that I knew about, it was a lot of googling. Google was our friend. And then of course, when you get certain searches and things pop up, then that leads you to other things and certain websites and different things of that nature. And so that's what I did. I just went ahead and did a lot of googling, of course, a lot of looking at what I could, maybe through Pinterest or Instagram. But for me, I would say a bulk of the research was really all through Google. And what led me to specific websites. There were even some archive pages we came across and things of that nature. So that's pretty much how the research was.

Lisa Woolfork 13:28

Do you remember anything particularly surprising about that? About the research? Do you remember anything that stood out to you as 'Oh, my goodness, I didn't know about this?'.

Nateida 13:41

Oh, absolutely. All of the, more the vintage patterns that were with McCall, that was with Vogue, that was with all of the simplicity. All of- I just had no idea that we had so many Black pattern designers that contributed to the sewing community, I had no idea. And yeah, we know about some of the more current ones that contribute to the Big Four. But those back in the 60s 70s and before, and I was shocked. It was just a shocking discovery, at least for me, but I was happy to see. And even a lot of obviously, we know trends may come back around. But a lot of those looks are still relevant today. And people put the modern spin on them. But that was a huge eye opening for me, thinking that 'oh is not going to be that many'. No, there were a ton, and they did a lot of work in the sewing community.

Lisa Woolfork 14:42

This is really excellent. And what I enjoy about what you've said, is that the research fueled creativity and it also allows you to look back and say, Hey, wait a minute, that shape of this particular jacket from the 1980s looks a lot like what I'm seeing right now, just a little bit tweaked or a little bit narrower in the shoulders, or a little bit longer, a little bit shorter. And so that vintage patterns themselves can be a journey. Kiera, I want to turn to you and ask about- Now where do you live again? Which Island are you on?

Kiera 15:14

I live on Barbados.

Lisa Woolfork 15:17

Oh, you're in- my roommate from college was from Barbados.

Kiera 15:20

Oh really?

Lisa Woolfork 15:21

Yes. So at- one of the questions I would ask, is Black History Month for someone in Barbados, what is that like? Because I believe that Black History Month, for example, in the US is in February, but in the UK, it's October. So do you all celebrate Black History Month? I thought that this was I thought Barbados was a predominantly Black country, is that true?

Kiera 15:42

It is we are 90% Black.

Lisa Woolfork 15:44

And so what is Black? Because like we like to say, and I believe that every day is Black History Month, but in the United States is not the case. It's not nationally celebrated every day, nationally, we get them up. But for Barbados, how is that different? What does Black history or Black Heritage look like, look like, when it doesn't have to be singled out as it does for those of us in the US who are in a racially marginalized position?

Kiera 16:09

You may be surprised to learn that we do celebrate Black History Month in February as well.

Lisa Woolfork 16:15

I am indeed surprised by that. Tell me more!

Kiera 16:18

Yes. So we actually, more commonly call it African Awareness Month, it is celebrated on a much smaller scale than in the US. Which should be surprising since we are 90%. Black. I think the main thing that we do celebrate is in that last week of February, which we call African Awareness Week, all of these schools would have marches, pageants, concerts, lectures, we have storytelling from historians. It's a time when we educate our schoolchildren about Black history, because a lot of this stuff is not taught in the textbook. So we use this week, all the teachers would dress a specific way. We have African dance- in a lot of times, it's not perfectly portrayed- But it's a really nice effort, when just for that month, to see the entire island, celebrating Black history. It's a really nice feeling. And you wish that like you said it could be done every day. But for now, we have this one month. I appreciate the fact that at least we have this one month, and you would think living here. We live our island is right across from Africa. So I don't think I need to explain the rich history of slavery here. So I think that is one reason why we adopted the Black History Month from you guys. I don't know when it started here, I tried to do some research and I'm finding absolutely nothing. So I don't know at which point, but I do know that we adopted it from you guys and then it transitioned into Africa and Awareness Month instead.

Lisa Woolfork 18:10

This is amazing. I am so glad to have learned that, because what it suggests to me is that when you say 'Oh, we don't learn about it in schools', I was like, oh, my goodness, you are a 90% Black country and why, like, i understand why we're not learning it at our schools, because that's just racism. We get that all the time, America comes with racism. But I'm surprised that in Barbados, that would also be something that you would have to seek out or make a special plan for. And it just goes to show you that these predominant narratives that normalize whiteness and center whiteness are global, they're global.

Kiera 18:50

Definitely, it's global. We all share the same issues as Black people. It doesn't matter how tiny your island is, trust me.

Lisa Woolfork 18:56

I believe it. I absolutely believe it. But we're gonna take a quick break everybody and when we come back, we are going to hear what these two wonderful sewists and organizers have for us for Black History Month Pattern Challenge 2021. So stay tuned.

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Welcome back, everybody, you are listening to the Stitch Please podcast and we are the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. And the Stitch Please podcast center with Black women, girls and femmes in sewing. But you already know that if you've listened this far, and if you've listened this far, we are talking with Nateida Lathan and Kiera Wood, who are the organizers this year of the Black History Month Pattern Challenge. Now the challenge started in 2019 and it has grown in its third year. And they're saying that the three is a charm. And I wanted to ask them about how the challenge has grown. As someone who has observed it in the last two years, this year looks very different. And one thing I wanted to start with was that absolutely drop dead cover art of YouTube... what! Please say more about that beautiful illustration. It is the cover art for this episode. So if you are listening to the podcast on Spotify, you'll see their cover art or other podcast players that show cover art. And you can see it of course on Instagram on their page. This is so beautiful. Tell me more about that.

Kiera 21:19

So I actually came up with the idea to do the avatar. And to be absolutely honest with you. I have no idea what sparked it. It just hit me like a big rock one day I was like Nateida, I think I'm gonna organize an avatar, please send me some photos of you just so that we can get both of us in a picture together. We can't take a photo together physically, I would love to one day. But obviously I can't travel right now. So it's like maybe if we have an avatar done we can get both of us in the shot together. And the avatar was actually done by Covatar. And then the graphics are on the avatar, that's all my handiwork that I'm ever so proud of.

Nateida 22:01

It looks absolutely beautiful love.

Lisa Woolfork 22:04

So when I asked who the artist is, the artist is you Kiera, you're the artist!

Kiera 22:11

In a way, I can't take all the props.

Lisa Woolfork 22:15

So you said it was done in covertar

Kiera 22:18

So we actually hired someone to do the avatars.

Lisa Woolfork 22:21

Oh, I understand. They did a marvelous job. It is so beautifully colored, it's so carefully drawn. And what I like about the art is that it's such a great and cheerful reflection of you both. And it seems, it feels very welcoming, like when I look at the image, I'm like, I want to do whatever they're doing. If your art, and I believe it is, if your art is intended to be an invitation to the Black History Month project, then I gratefully accept that invitation. Because it is lovely. It is so warm and so inviting. So I believe you have accomplished your mission in the creation of that cover art. What can we expect from Black History Month Pattern Challenge 2021?

Nateida 23:11

When you were talking a bit about the growth, and everything you want people to participate and what we've noticed since 2019, is that the level of participation has grown and continue to grow. But besides that, can I tell you what excites me the most?

Lisa Woolfork 23:28

Yes, please!

Nateida 23:29

All of these new Black pattern designers, the fabric companies, the quilters. Now, mind you that first year, I had no idea about knitting and crocheting designers or anything like that, because I don't normally participate in those types of crafts, although that is changing quite a little bit this year. But for me being able to see when somebody, you know, post, oh, I've launched my new business. Launching a business for the world, that's your baby, and you take it so personal. And I love love supporting business owners and people who have decided to take that big step and say, 'Look, here's what I'm introducing to the world', and being able to add these different companies and designers and fabric companies onto our list. That is like the growth besides obviously participation. But that is the growth I get super excited about because now maybe it's just a few people that know about some of these companies, but maybe perhaps through this challenge, because it is now everything is now on the website this year. That's one of the other things that's new everything is on on my website. Now, people can have a dedicated place that they can go to and discover all of these new designers, knitters, crocheters, who have businesses that they've launched out here and I love love love that.

Lisa Woolfork 25:00

That is so delightful. Because what it reminds me of is, as I was saying earlier about community over competition. You are not trying to- you're not competing with anybody in this, you want all of us to win. And so it is wonderful to see this growth in participation, but also in Black women building the things they need. And I believe that like for me and creating Black Women Stitch and creating the podcast was building something that I need. You both working through and creating the Black History Month Pattern Challenge is something that you need, but it also becomes something that becomes necessary. And such a beautiful gift that you're giving to the sewing community at large, allowing Black women, for us, to look at this community and see ourselves reflected back to us. To normalize the idea that we should be at the center of our own creative process. And that's something I find is so exciting. And I also am excited by the growth of the businesses. It reminds me of how I started doing what I was calling Black-er Friday, I started Black-er Friday on the Stitch Please podcast back in 2019. And what it does is it amplifies small Black owned, sewing and crafting related businesses. So if you're a pattern designer, if you design and sell fabric, if you have a brick and mortar shop all of those things. In 2019, two years ago, I had maybe 10 or 12, folks that were on the episode, maybe not even 12, maybe closer to 10. But this year, I had double. It was like I had patternmakers, I had brick and mortar store owners, I had yarn dyers, it was amazing. And so when we look, we see that we are there. And there is more growth among Black women being involved in these professions, and taking on these creative challenges to build things not just that they need, but also building them with the knowledge that we will respond, because we need them to. And so this is something that I really enjoy through the journey of the Black History Month project. So congratulations. What can people expect this year they're going to participate? How exactly does that work? How does one best participate in this year's Black History Month pattern challenge?

Nateida 27:23

I can jump in on that. The best way to participate is really just follow along. Myself and Kiera obviously on on Instagram and our websites. But we also have three lovely ambassadors that are joining us to help promote the challenge so you can get inspiration. So by following all of our accounts, we have Tea from @crumpetstea andsewing, Crystal from @crystalsewsandstuff and then Nandita also known as @divinedita on Instagram, that we'll all be putting out inspirations throughout the month of February. And what you'll see if you visit our website is that you participate. But right now, the reason we put everything out a little earlier this year is really to gear- jim everybody up, get everybody excited to begin to do their research dig through their stash, and rules are listed on our website, but pretty much begin starting your project, February 1st, and you just get 28 full days to finish whatever that project is. So if it's a garment, if it's a handbag, if it's a quilt, if it's something in the knitting phase, you have the entire month of February to, to post. And so we just actually, don't start sewing or knitting or crocheting until February 1st. And then you have throughout the month to complete your item, and then get it all posted.

Lisa Woolfork 28:50

This is very exciting. And now I'm actually extra glad that I decided to have this episode published on today, the last Wednesday of February, so y'all don't cheat. So find your pattern. Pull it out, find your fabric, pull it out, get your notions together so that you know what you need to do. If you've got to get buttons, go get your buttons. But don't cheat, and start cutting your stuff out now and laying next to the sewing machine. Because it's not a race, there is nothing that you have to get ahead of anybody for. This is really about pulling together and finding ways to promote Black pattern makers from the past and the present. And in so doing, helping to generate Black pattern makers in the future, because it's hard to become something if you don't see it. But by promoting it, uplifting us, uplifting these designs, uplifting these folks who have done such great work and recognizing and validating and celebrating this work. I think it helps to prime the pump for newer creatives who might be thinking of doing something similar. So that's great. You mentioned the thing that was most surprising earlier, but I wonder if you can talk about, if either of you could, talk about what's been the most fulfilling, so far. It sounds like Kiera was very fulfilled by that gorgeous graphic. I was fulfilled by that graphic and I didn't even make it. But it's really beautiful. But what other types of things have been fulfilling so far about this process?

Kiera 30:26

I think for me, the most fulfilling thing, apart from the lovely graphic, of course, it's just seeing that list, that list grow more than quadruple, just seeing it grow. I feel like 2020 was necessary all events that took place in 2020, that shook the sewing community. I feel like it really pushed a lot of new designers to launch. Because there are so many new designers who launched in 2020. I can't wait for all of you who taking part in the challenge to go to the list on our websites, and find all these new people, we even have Nigerians on the list this year. Just amazing.

Lisa Woolfork 31:07

Wonderful. And just to understand that this is global, that this is, that we can only we often only see what's right in front of us. But we don't realize that Instagram and the internet, the intention is to pull the whole world together.

Kiera 31:21


Lisa Woolfork 31:22

And that's what I love about what you have done by pulling in someone from the US and someone from Barbados, who have a common interest. Who have a lot of common interests. For whom Black History Month means something, for whom uplifting and centering and promoting Black people means something. And I think that's really wonderful. So you said that the list quadrupled. That is- That's just absolutely amazing. Wait, can you say that again?

Nateida 31:52

I was saying isn't that exciting.

Lisa Woolfork 31:54

It's incredibly exciting. It's absolutely exciting. And it's inspirational. It's inspirational. And it's aspirational. It's inspirational because we get inspired to try something new, to sew some patterns you might not have known about. And it's aspirational, hopefully, by getting folks who are participating, or folks who might just be watching to aspire that we have a legacy. As I tell people all the time, sewing is our ancestral craft. And even if, in the US and in a lot of other mainstream publications and patterns, we don't see ourselves, that does not mean that we weren't there. That we have a distorted image of what sewing is and what sewing is supposed to be because we live in a country that's dominated by white supremacists ideas, which in- which might sound like you know, klansmen, which it is, but it's also living in a society that says things like you're pretty for a Black girl, this expectation that everything that's of value, or matters is something that white people do. And I am just so delighted to see that there's a way to call out the lie of that idea. And instead replace it with this beautiful, affirming, loving, creative truth that you have put together with this challenge. So that is really fantastic. Can you tell me a bit about the ambassador process? I know I'm following every person that you said I think Dita makes some absolutely gorgeous garments. And she has a lot of pieces that I like that seem to involve embroidery. And so that's really lovely. I follow Crystal, I follow Crumpets, Tea and Sewing. I follow all of them. So tell me about the ambassador roles, what they are doing and what made you think you needed such ambassadors? Is that just a sign of the growth? Is that a way to get support? Is that a way to spread the word? What made you decide to include ambassadors this time round?

Nateida 33:48

I believe it was, I don't think for 2019, if I'm remembering correctly, we had ambassadors. But the main reason to have ambassadors is to help with the promotion of the challenge. And because it did grow so much, obviously when you just have just a couple people running a challenge. And if just the two people had to do all the posting all of the reposting or all of the inspiration posts that is it's a lot of work. And so to have ambassadors that are able to say hey, you know what, this is your baby, this is your dream, I'm willing to come in and help support your baby, support your dream and do what I can to help just promote the challenge. And so that is what the ambassadors are doing. Now I will say Crystal and Tameika are both repeat ambassadors. They were our ambassadors last year as was Kiera. And so it was really nice to have everybody really help us and then to come back this year for more help. And then I reached out to Dita to also be an ambassador again, because she is Queen of apliques, trims and everything on her garments.

Lisa Woolfork 35:08

Yes, indeed, yes, indeed. I really like that. So Kiera, can you tell me a bit about what it means for you to move from an ambassador position into a more front role or leadership role or organizational role?

Kiera 35:22

It is absolutely amazing. If I go back to 2019, the first day of the challenge, I took part in that challenge. And I remember doing my own research, trying to find a Black pattern designer that was not on the list. And I bounced up on this young lady called Crystal Cooper of The Sewing Addiction. And I made a pattern called the Tenly top. When I posted mine, the response was insane. I didn't have a lot of followers, but I had people who follow the hashtag. In my DMS, were like, Who's this person I didn't know she existed, can you send a link to her website and I remember one person in particular, who confirmed that she purchased the pattern. And I was like, from this day, I will support this challenge as long as Nateida and Myra are doing this. If I can help one single Black pattern designer to get a sale, I knew I wanted to be involved. So in 2020, I was asked to be an ambassador. And it was so inspirational for me, I was actually traveling during the time of the challenge. So it was a little bit rough. But then we had the help of the other ambassadors as well. And it was this sense of- I don't even know how to put it into words. But it was such a collaborative effort between the hosts and the ambassadors. And just feeling like I was a part of something that is letting Black pattern designers get the shine that they deserve.

Nateida 36:59


Kiera 37:00

I put out I think it was three different items I put out for last year's challenge. And again, the response was insane. And this year, I expect it to be even more grand. It's just amazing to be a part of something so big, a part of something global and international, from my little rock that I live on, you know.

Lisa Woolfork 37:23

Yes, I totally hear what you're saying. And I'm so grateful for that expression. Because what it establishes is again, the way that people can become attached and connected and inspired. And also have a vision that they're willing to put in the steps to execute. And in the execution of that vision, what you're presenting is something that is so much larger than yourselves, but something that's also cherished, and so appreciated. And so I think everybody that's been involved in the challenge from the ambassadors to the organizers, to participants, I think that everyone can celebrate and feel really excited about it. Before we wrap up, I wanted to ask, tell me about the sponsors, I thought, I think you have 9000 sponsors. How did that come about?

Nateida 38:14

I can say from the sponsors, and the list has definitely grown over the years. But there are several, I know many will probably notice, that have been with us as sponsors from the very beginning. And I'm so appreciative of that. Because again, I'm just appreciative of anyone who sets time aside, to be an ambassador to be a co host, even to be a sponsor for an event like this. And so our sponsorship list has grown over the past couple years. But I would say how at least I was able to get the sponsorships is really no secret. I took a chance and just emailed everybody directly. Reached out to them directly and just asked the question, you can get a yes or no. Gave them history, of course providing information about the challenge, why I was doing it, what it meant to me, which is all on my website. But it was just me reaching out taking a chance and seeing what they say. And it worked. And many said yes, I have had a couple nos. So don't be surprised by that. But I would say 98% of everyone that I've reached out to over the years, over the past three years to be a sponsor, have been on board, been excited about it and have said yes. And so those are the list of sponsors that you see, or that you would see on the website, or that we shared on social media.

Lisa Woolfork 39:49

Wow, I think that is such an encouraging lesson. I've talked to a lot of folks during the course of the podcast about how did they get this deal or how did they start? This project and they said, I asked, I called and I asked, and here we are. And I was like, wow. And that's really encouraging people to have a little confidence to try it. And all they can say, as you said, is yes or no. And if they say, No, it's not the end of the world, it's not the end of the project, you just go on to the next. And I think that's very encouraging. And it's nice to see so much affirmation of your hard work. So as we wrap up, is there anything you want to tell folks about the challenge to get them excited and ready for it, you've already shared so much beautiful and important information. If you could leave us with, each of you, leave us with like maybe one phrase or one sentence or one little bit of advice, as people start to do their fabric pulls and do their- try to find the patterns that you have put on the website? What do you want people to feel or think or to consider? as they prepare for the challenge next week?

Nateida 40:57

I'll say this, if I can, if you don't mind me being a little cheeky here. Lisa, I would highly suggest that you subscribe, if you have not, to the newsletter that's on the website, because the newsletter list will see a couple extra special things this month, in the month of January. And we will have something else going out pretty soon. But please let everyone- I really want the point to get across if this is really open to everyone. We had a lot going on in our country in 2020. That's spilling over into 2021. If we want to be frank, but many people ask, What can I do? How can I support? Here's a way to support. And is truly open to everyone around the world its international. So definitely visit the websites, both of our websites, to learn more information about that and participating. But this is that opportunity. And I do notice from someone who has organized this that there are some in the sewing community that kind of shy away. That's non Black will shy away from this challenge just because they don't know if it's something that they can participate in, or Oh, is it okay, if I make an ankara fabric in this dress? Can I wear it? You absolutely can. Here's a way you can support. So that is something I truly want to get across and hope that gets across, that its truly opened up internationally, to everyone.

Lisa Woolfork 42:27

Excellent, excellent. How about you Kiera what kind of advice, or if not advice, or comments that you can say to encourage- or encourage participation, or let people know what kind of benefits they can get from the beginning the challenge next week, I totally understand about the newsletter, and we will include it in the show notes of this episode, y'all. You're able to go and find direct links to their websites, it'll take you right where you need to go and subscribe to the newsletter to get the additional information that Nateida just mentioned. But Kiera for you, what would you like us to leave with, what thought would you like us to leave with about the challenge coming up next week.

Kiera 43:04

So like Lisa said, we have got 9000 sponsors, I'm only kidding, we have 16 sponsors. And remember, you can get a prize just for participating. And when I tell you that the prizes are amazing this year, I want them for myself. I won't be selfish. What I really want to say is, let's not get distracted by everything that's happening around us, globally, locally. This is a time for us to refocus our energy and our thoughts and our efforts. We're asking for one month, just give us one month to celebrate the Black pattern designers. I'm really looking forward to seeing what everybody's putting out. And I can't wait for you guys to see what I'm making because as usual I'm bringing fire and I know Nateida will as well. So I'm going to leave you with this. Let's go. And I'm just that's just the way I'm going to end it. Let's go. I'm ready. Nateida is ready. We're all ready. The Black pattern designers are ready to see how you use their patterns and the sponsors are ready to send some stuff to your mailbox. So let's go.

Lisa Woolfork 44:19

I love it. All right, so you've heard it here first, folks, let's go, get yourself ready. We have- I am so thankful to Nateida Lathan and Kiera Wood for helping us get our stitch together and get ready for the Black History Month pattern designers challenge with them both. Thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. And I am very excited to see how this all turns out. This is wonderful. I might have to make me something so I can get one of y'all 9 million prizes. Whatever Kiera's making and I'm going to be like Oh, that looks great on us. All right, y'all. Thank you so much again. Thank you.

Kiera 44:57

Thank you for having us.

Nateida 44:58

Thank you!

Lisa Woolfork 45:00

You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, p a t r e o n. And you can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing, transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews. But for those who do, for those that have a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us and the Stitch Please podcast, that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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