Cirque de SEWING–A chat with SewMuchAerial

Mentioned in this episode


Marissa’s etsy page


Custom Dressform

Sheer Performance Fabrics with Melanin

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Lisa Woolfork 0:14

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 selling experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Hello, everybody, this is Lisa with Black Women Stitch and Stitch Please podcast, I am delighted to welcome Marissa Friezen to speak with us about such an exciting and amazing topic. I thought this would be a wonderful way to begin the new year. We are here at 2020 as and as I discussed last week, it seems like 2020 things because I've always had pretty bad eyes, the 2020 to have 2020 vision has always been like one of my personal ambitions. And so I do now have 2020 vision thanks to the miracle of glasses and contact lenses. But I don't come by that naturally. And so maybe that's why I kind of really admire 2020 as a number. And now here we are in the year 2020, which seems like a fake made up space year. But it's also a great opportunity for me to start thinking about what does it mean to live with clear vision to live with boldness to live with direction to live with resolve. And so I thought when I saw Marissa and her photographs on her Instagram page, and you can find her on Instagram at So Much Aerial. Is that right, Marissa?

Marissa Friezen 2:14

Yep, that's right.

Lisa Woolfork 2:16

At Sew Much Aerial. Y'all. It is really breathtaking. And I know we talk a lot about sewing and a lot about really amazing and beautiful, beautiful sewing projects. But this really did take my breath away. Marissa is an aerial artist. And that means that she climbs and uses her body in the most amazing and gravity defying ways. And she sews and it just I just thought that is so bold that is so powerful. I would love to have that part be part of my podcast vision board. Just even just to have the images. And so just to be able to talk with her today is really special. So Marissa, welcome to the program. Thanks for being here.

Marissa Friezen 3:03

Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm so excited.

Lisa Woolfork 3:06

So can you tell us about how you started sewing and then I'm going to shift to how you started with the aerial work.

Marissa Friezen 3:15

Yeah, so I actually started sewing back in about seventh grade, I took a sewing class. And we did the basic things like sewing pillowcases, pajama pants, those kinds of things. And then I actually took another sewing class in high school. So I took about two years of sewing in high school, making garments and things like that. And then I actually stopped sewing for quite a while through college, I was just busy with schoolwork and things like that. And then I started to pick it up again after I finished college. And I just kind of wanted something to do. My parents bought me a sewing machine when I was about 16. And so I just had that same you know, simple sewing machine that I used for a while. And then after a couple years ago, my husband's grandmother, she had passed away before I had actually had a chance to meet her but she was a sewist as well and she had this really nice machine that has been just sitting in storage. And so my grandfather in law had gifted it to me, and ever since then I've kind of been sewing everything that I can. And yeah, that's kind of how I got started. And that's kind of how it has gone since then.

Lisa Woolfork 4:38

Wow, that's such a beautiful story. And some of the things that stand out to me about this story is that you did do sewing in high school, except that you did it for two years. I know that some people I know that some class some folks don't even have sewing as an option in high school, let alone have it for two years. Do you believe that that helped to shape how You thought about sewing at all?

Marissa Friezen 5:01

Oh, I definitely I took it for two semesters, my, my junior year, and I had the most amazing sewing teacher ever. Miss Wilson, she was amazing. And she really just inspired me to really want to make my own things I kind of I love being able to show off what I did, she helped me make my homecoming dress. And it was just something that was just really, I dont know, it felt really special that I could make something like that.

Lisa Woolfork 5:31

And speaking of special, I was looking at some of your posts on Instagram and you remade your prom dress. So did you make your prom dress originally? And then you remade it recently? How did that work?

Marissa Friezen 5:43

Um, so actually, I you're talking about that pink dress?

Lisa Woolfork 5:46

Oh, this is your mom's old. This is your mom's prom dress. Oh my gosh, that's even more amazing. Okay, so now you really have to tell me?

Marissa Friezen 5:53

Yeah. So my mom had all she had her old prom dress that was just kind of sitting in on her hope chest and one day we were going through it. And I found it and I tried it on actually fit me pretty well. And she said that if I wanted it, I could have it. And so I took it. And I had it for probably, oh, I don't even know maybe six or seven years, eight years. Maybe it is that in my sewing stash. And then I started this project actually where I made a different dress every single month.

Lisa Woolfork 6:27


Marissa Friezen 6:29

yeah. And so I thought, why not? to like, why not take this dress that I've been meaning to kind of refashion for so long and kind of turning that into part of my project. And so I was really worried about doing it cuz I didn't want to like ruin the dress and all the memories that were with it. But it turned out really awesome. I'm really proud of the product that came out after it.

Lisa Woolfork 6:51

And are there certain things that you enjoy sewing more than others? I was definitely going to ask about the I'm not sure if it's called the RW Monthly Challenge or was that just something that you called it it says RW Productions in the corners of many of your photos for the year and so I wasn't sure if that was part of the challenge or that something different?

Marissa Friezen 7:13

So my I've called it the Monthly Dress Collection. The RW Productions is actually one of my friends. He is a photographer. And he was the one that's kind of been taking my photos for me though he had to throw a watermark in the bottom in the bottom there of all my pictures. So

Lisa Woolfork 7:31

So the your Monthly Dress Collection is amazing. It is really beautiful. And I love how it combines different textures and colors every month. They all the dresses look different. And they're all obviously very different. Do you have a favorite that you can recall? Something that you absolutely loved?

Marissa Friezen 7:50

Oh, oh my god. So I really love my very first dress that I did in January. It's just so sparkly and fun. I think that was hot. Oh, but also September is really awesome, too. I just love the really deep V it's kind of sassy. Kind of sexy, but still classy. So I think it's a toss up between those two as my favorites, I think.

Lisa Woolfork 8:17

And I really love I think it was the I think maybe it's the is it the February one that you did. That's the redo of your mom's dress.

Marissa Friezen 8:25

Yep, that's February

Lisa Woolfork 8:26

Oh, my goodness, that one's also really nice. You've got a lot of choices here. I don't think you can really go wrong with with any of your dresses. And the March one is also quite nice. And I know for some of these, and I'm not sure if you remember the percentage. But some of these are self drafted patterns. Because I was reading people were asking like, what pattern was this? And you said it was self drafted. Can you talk a little bit more about your relationship between drafting patterns versus buying patterns? Like which do you prefer to do?

Marissa Friezen 8:57

Yeah, so actually all of my dresses that I do for the dress question are self drafted.

Lisa Woolfork 9:02


Marissa Friezen 9:04

Yeah, so that's actually my very first time ever doing anything self drafted I growing up and learning to sew I only pattern specifically Big Four pattern. And I still prefer using patterns. I feel more comfortable doing that. Just because the directions are all there for me. I know exactly what I need to do. I like the direction that it gives me. But I've actually learned a lot about self drafting and draping. I actually made a dress form.

Lisa Woolfork 9:36


Marissa Friezen 9:38

Yeah, that one I bought a pattern for for sure. But I use my dress form to kind of shape things but I do feel very much more comfortable with using patterns. But I have learned a lot and I like making my own patterns because then it's extra special because then I really have nobody else has the same thing because it's something that I created my own so.

Lisa Woolfork 10:01

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's really great that you said that you feel more comfortable using a pattern. But you did do this entire collection of monthly dresses where you drafted patterns yourself. And I think that there are people, I can't say people, I'll say there are people named Lisa Woolfork, who is myself, who is much more comfortable sewing from patterns, either Big Four Pattern or an independent pattern. And I don't do very, very much drafting myself, I might modify some things to fit, of course. But starting straight out fresh and drafting, it just seems so difficult. But a few months ago, we had a wonderful chat with a woman named Choma, who lives in Nigeria. And she says that when she learned to sew, she learned to pattern draft that that is what sewing was for her. Like, you know, like you were describing how you learn to sew was kind of like how I learned to sew you start with at least you got a pillowcase if you use a pillowcase. I started with a tote bag. And I'm like, Good night, how many doggone tote bags does anybody need? You know, though, actually, I think I still have that tote bag I made 20 years ago somewhere. But you start with these projects that are just so like utilitarian and boring. And then for some people that just totally crushes your love to sew, or you're interest in sewing because it feels like it's just boring. But you do pattern draft and you find them, you know, you do them really compatibly which I think is really great. You know, so you can use the Big Four Pattern, no problem. And you know enough that you can make your own pattern. And that's something I really like is that you know, you've made this thing it fits great. Now you have a pattern, so you can go back and do it again. I think that's genius. There's a certain degree of boldness. Tell us tell me about your dress form. And then I'll tell you about mine because mine almost killed me. So I want to hear about your story first.

Marissa Friezen 11:58

Yeah, so I, I found, I can't remember what the pattern company is called right now. But it's one you can put your measurements, you can send in your measurements. And they will make create a pattern for you in the email that to you and you can print it out. And so I made, it's a little bit wonky still, but it gets the job done. So then my husband made me a stand for it. So now it's not just a body, that pinging from my closet shelf, it's actually standing up. And it's made to my size, which is really awesome. So I know exactly if it fits on there, it's going to fit me, which is really great. Because some dress was kind of hard sometimes to find a dress from it's actually close to your measurements. So it's really convenient to have one that is perfectly fit for me.

Lisa Woolfork 12:51

That's wonderful. If you think of it if you think of the company at some point, could you email that to me, and I will be sure to put it in the show notes so that people can look at it and you know, perhaps order their own. Because I think there's lots of folks who will be interested. So let me tell you about my my dress for my dress from this was years ago when the rage was you could make a dress form that was based on your own body by wearing like basically just your bra and underpants and a tight fitting t shirt or something and then covering your entire body in duct tape. Like layers and layers of duct tape. And so I paid actual money to go to a class where people measured me and then covered my body in duct tape from like, shoulder like from neck to knee. Pretty much like completely mummified in duct tape. And toward the end of the process because you had to stand there for like 45 minutes. I was so hot. And there was sweat pouring from all the orifices from which sweat can pour. And then I got lightheaded. And they were like okay, we just need a few more layers of tape. And I was like you have to take this off me right now. So they got the scissors and they cut me out of it because I was surely about to faint and hit the ground. For sure. I really was I was about to knock myself all the way out because of my duct and then I got it stuffed up you know you chose to stuff it. And then I made my own stand out of like the base for a patio umbrella and some sand. It was so jacked up. And then I would put clothes on it. And I would go downstairs where my sewing room is. And I would scare myself half to death. Because I'd be like, Oh my God Who was that? Yeah, it was, you know, I had it for a little while, and it looked like me, weirdly, from the back, but from the front, it didn't. So it was just, it was a mess. It was a mess. And it made me realize that I'd much prefer to just sew in my underwear, and then, like, try stuff on that way, though. I know a dress form is probably for the best, but I have some dressform trauma going on. And I will probably not have another one in the house. Because really, I really, I every time I would go down there I would forget it was there. And if mine was like yours was and you have it hanging up somewhere. Oh, no, ma'am. No, ma'am. They will not be partly, you know, partly It looks like you know, a body hanging. I had these beautiful costumes that I made these huge three dimensional three dimensional fish, two of them that are hanging in my studio right now. And even those things even though I know that they're always there, they often startle on me and like Oh, wait, how's the fish get, oh it's just a costume Lisa calm down. Yeah, that if that was an actual like, no, it cannot be a dress form No, no, no. I do not my nerves the way my the way My nerves are set up, it does not allow me to have things that let me get get startled. That startled me so easily. Later on, Marissa, remembered the name of the dress form company that she used to create her own dress form. It was from Bootstrap Fashion. And I have included the link to this company in the show notes if you wanted to get more information. When we come back, we'll continue talking with Marissa and talk about her area of work, and how climbing silks is about confidence and creativity. Just like sewing. Stay tuned.

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Welcome back everyone to the special Cirque Du Sewing episode. This is a special conversation with Marissa Friezen also known as So Much Aerial on Instagram. Now we're going to talk about sewing and risk taking and aerial work and what these things have in common. Stay tuned. So let's switch gears to talk more about the aerial work that's what's also so amazing and I see some great connections between the boldness and and and your risk taking willing to kind of take a risk to say that, you know, this Big Four Pattern or these patterns don't have what I want. I know what I want. I know my body, I'm gonna make it and make it work and a link between that attitude and doing aerial work. So can you talk a little bit about that? How'd you get started?

Marissa Friezen 18:39

Yeah, so um, after I moved back to my hometown, after college, I had a friend who I actually met in college, and we both grew up in the same town. We both moved back. And she had heard about this circus class. And she said, Hey, do you want to go try it out? And I said, Sure. I have some dance background and then did cheerleading in high school. And then college I didn't do much of anything. Like at all athletic. So it was something that I was like Oh, yeah, I'm kind of ready to get back into the swing of things. And this sounds kind of interesting. And after the first class, I was pretty much hooked and haven't really stopped since then. So it's been a really great challenge to kind of test my limits with my strength and creativity. So it's been a really awesome experience overall.

Lisa Woolfork 19:32

And I see that you also do competitions. So can you tell us a little bit about what an aerial silk or is it called silk, silk aerial or aerial silks? Is that what it's called?

Marissa Friezen 19:45

Yeah, so there are the ones that I my preferred apparatus would be the silk which are the two fabrics that hang down. There are also panic which is one silk, that kind of loop And then there's also what's called a lira, which is like a big metal hoop that hangs from the ceiling that you can do different tricks on. So I do aerial silk perferrably that mainly. And I actually competed and only competed one time. And I competed in St. Louis last year at aerial Olympics. And they had lots of different divisions on what categories you can compete in. And it kind of depending on how, what level you're at, but what kinds of tricks you can do. And yeah,

Lisa Woolfork 20:36

That's, that's incredible. And the thing that I find, so there's so many things I find really powerful about it, is that essentially, you are using your own body strength to pull yourself up two massive pieces of silk fabric that are suspended from the ceiling. Is that right?

Marissa Friezen 20:59

Yes, that's correct.

Lisa Woolfork 21:03

I have so many questions. Some of them include, how, how big is the fabric? Do you know how big each piece of fabric measures?

Marissa Friezen 21:13

Um, are you talking like width or length?

Lisa Woolfork 21:16


Marissa Friezen 21:18

Um, so the fabric that I've trained on is about I'd probably like 18 to 20 feet long. And probably Oh, I don't know, maybe 16 inches wide? Probably something along those lines for each fabric, so. Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 21:44

It? I wonder, do you It seems to me again, this is just me as like an outsider looking at this, that there's a lot of trust required to do this. And is it trust in the fabric that the fabric isn't going to tear? Is it trust in yourself in your abilities? Like how, how do you get up there? Like, that's just not my ministry? I couldn't there is no way there isn't? First of all, I'm afraid of heights. So this is absolutely not for me. But you go up there, I guess. And I think people who do it, well just make it look so easy, like do you imagine is a great degree of trust involved in making those types of doing those types of elaborate tricks?

Marissa Friezen 22:26

Oh, for sure. So, the fabric, I feel completely comfortable with our instructor, or one of our instructors, the owner of the company that I I practice that he is like the safety king. So he has the most like the safest setup that you could possibly have. So I have no, I have no problems with the fabric at all. But it does require a lot of trust. In myself, though, when I first started, I was also kind of a little bit terrified of going up. Because I mean, if you make one false move, or if you your hands flip, there'd be no really serious consequences for that though, you do have to trust yourself, knowing that you're capable of doing it. Also, everything that I do, I always, always, always, always practice it low to the ground until I feel 100% confident in my abilities and that I'm not going to fall or make sure I had all the wraps correct. And all of those kinds of things. So it's definitely a lot of practice doing it close to the ground so that you feel comfortable. And then once you build up that comfort level, you're able to do it in the air. And yes, the people who I see even do it, make it look effortless. blows my mind. Even myself, even though I do it, it's still crazy to watch other people do it and like, make it look like it's nothing.

Lisa Woolfork 23:56

It's just it just it really does make you make it look like like effortless, but when I'm watching you, it's it's when you I'm glad you talked about the terminology when you call them wraps, because it looks like you're knotted up in these different things. And then you like unfurl or unroll your body to move down? I don't know, it just seems like this really elaborate set of maybe knots is the wrong word. But it just it's almost like, you know tying a baby in a Baby Bjorn or one of those infant carrier things that again, I could never figure out. But how does how does that work? Like how do you learn to make those types of those types of ties and how do you learn to just like release like that?

Marissa Friezen 24:44

Yeah, so definitely, every video that I post, I think it looks super like Oh, this is so easy, and like there's no problems but if I showed all of the like practice trials that I do, I get I get caught in the fabric all the time, but It's really i. So when I first started, I start with a really basic trick that are few steps. Simple. Like the bull wrap, the bull lock, like a foot lock is something really basic and simple, quote unquote, the bull. All right, it's one of the one of the basic wraps. And then it kind of builds off of that. So the ones that I post are typically, they're like multiple steps that take lots of repetition, and lots of modeling from my instructors. And definitely, again, lots and lots of practice, before I try the and releasing from certain drops is still terrifying even after I've done them so many times. It's just, it's just the trust of knowing. Okay, I went through the steps, I wrapped it correctly, I know that if I let go, the fabric is going to catch me when I'm done. It just kept telling myself that as I go, is what kind of gets me through because sometimes there are some that are still really tricky, really scary. But I just make I just have full confidence that I've wrapped it correctly before I ever let go.

Lisa Woolfork 26:14

Well, I'm looking at some of these photographs from the aerial Olympics 2019. And I think this is the picture that which you posted in September 20 on September 26, and it's the third one where you're like, you're upside down and you have the fabric wrapped around your waist. And one hand is like pinned to your side at the elbow, and the other hand is extended down by the side of your face pointing toward the ground and your legs in this gorgeous like leaping position, but you're upside down. I is Mind blown. just completely Mind blown. And everything you're saying about trust seems to you know it really. I feel like I can see it in the photographs like it's these are utterly beautiful. Now do you sew your own aerial costumes? Oh, do you buy those?

Marissa Friezen 27:09

Um, usually I buy them. I have actually made one of my costumes. It was a simple black leotard with an open back that I actually used one of my other one of my favorite leotard. I use that as a pattern to make my black one. But I haven't had, I've haven't made too many costumes just because sewing with stretch fabric is still not my favorite. But I wanted to give it a go. Because I mean, I love trying different things. And I would love to make more costumes. I just haven't quite found a pattern that I like it and making my own. Still. Yes, it fit me but it was a little a little iffy, though. I do prefer to buy them at this point.

Lisa Woolfork 28:02

Well, I looking at these photos, it seems like you're pretty fearless. And you know if you can do this, you can definitely sew with some stretch knits. I have no doubt, zero doubt at all. I was just asking because we did an episode a few months ago with Designs by Tosh. And she makes sheer melanated stretch fabrics for Black women. And she has 85 colors of browns, of browns. And so I'm chocolate, I'm a German chocolate. And then my friend is the bananas foster. And my other friend is caramel. And my other friend that's all of them were also named after foods. It's Yeah, she's and she was a dancer. And she was saying that she decided to do this her, she started I think when she started she might have had like a dozen colors. And then it blossomed into two dozen colors. And she was making them just for herself and for her friends. Because her friends were dancers and couldn't find the tights and other mesh fabrics or garments for dancewear that match their skin. And so she decided just to make it for her own personal use of her own personal sewing and then it just exploded into what it is right now. I think when I last talk with her she had 85 and now she's revamping it to have even more. I mean, it's just incredible. And so I was like oh, this would be so great for you because you do this kind of thing too. So I thought that would be kind of cool. It is it is and and so are you I mean I really am. I think looking at these photos. It's really it's so very impressive. I'm talking with Marissa Friezen here on the Stitch Please podcast in our episode called "Cirque Du Sewing". She does these gravity defying tricks on this fabric suspended from the ceiling. And it requires such bravery. And I asked her to think about how does that relate to sewing in general? If you could imagine what the connections might be between your aerial work and your sewing work, what do you think that is? Do you see any connections?

Marissa Friezen 30:27

I definitely do feel like after starting to do aerial I do feel like I started to take more risk. And with my sewing as well, I feel like I've kind of decided that I'm going to I kind of, uh, I don't know, I've decided to stop buying my own clothes. And I've been trying to make most of the clothes that I wear. And so kind of just taking that leap, instead of just going to the store and buying things I'm starting to kind of slow down and really take, take the risk to make my own clothes and make them hopefully look somewhat presentable. It's definitely been an interesting experience to kind of, well just do both them at the same time even. Because I feel like some people are like, Oh, how do you do all of these things? And I, I don't know, I just feel like they kind of cross over a little bit because I am using my body to do different things in aerial. I'm using it to climb and do all these poses. And when it's the sewing, I'm using it to shape my own wardrobe. So it's kind of it's kind of interesting to see and I've never had seen, they had to look at them together and see how they work together. But I guess that would be kind of how they go together. Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 31:50

I think I would agree with that. And I when I look, for example, at some of your pieces, like the one you the dress you had for October. I mean, that dress, it seems like you took a few risks, because you said you hadn't used tool since high school because you said it always felt like it was a little cheap. But now you have changed your mind. So tell me how did how did that happen? How did you decide I want to a fluffy black tool dress for October?

Marissa Friezen 32:18

Yeah, so I kind of what I was thinking like, I don't know, Halloween themed. And I just want something really poofy. And I was thinking well, I feel like tools can be very poofy. And they were and Joanne was having a sale. So I thought hey, why not? So I bought about 10 yards of tool. And I didn't really know how I was going to use it yet. I was still kind of processing it. And then I had some the stretch. Four way stretch fabric from my actually from my leotard that I had made, I had about two and a half yards of that. And so I thought, how can we kind of mash them together? And then as I was kind of draping it on my dress form, I realized that Oh, actually, tool can be pretty out there. I could go so far as saying luxurious depending on how you kind of how you format it, how you lay it out on your on your form. And yeah, I feel like it's totally changed my whole perspective of tool with that dress.

Lisa Woolfork 33:23

That is wonderful. I too tend to FEMA ties a lot of my clothes based on what is on sale.

Marissa Friezen 33:31


Lisa Woolfork 33:31

I make I make matching family outfits for my husband and kids and myself. And I've been doing this for a really long time since the kids were I don't know, since the kids were like in fourth grade, maybe fourth and eighth grade or four. Anyway, my fourth grader at the time is now a junior in high school and the eighth grader is a junior in college, and I still make us outfits. And it's so sweet because my son is such a sweetheart, the college age one, he'll still wear it. He'll wear his Easter shirt, he'll wear his first day of school shirt and send me pictures. But I was just thinking, yeah, I thought about a theme. What's the theme? Other than bargain? Why sale? Lots of fabric? There is a lot of this. It is something I can afford. But no, that's great and and that you even tried it you know, and I think that I often struggle with the idea of learning versus unlearning, because I think unlearning can be sometimes a lot harder than learning. And so you unlearn your system. You unlearned your, you know, though you overcame or unlearned, your belief about tool, and you ended up with this gorgeous piece because you were willing to do that. And that's just another risk that I think it's great that you're willing to take with your sewing. That's fantastic. So I don't want to take up too much more of your time. I know you've had a pretty long and busy day But if you have any particular Oh, you know, I want to ask you about your business. Are you making ties now and selling ties to people? I saw that too.

Marissa Friezen 35:09

Yeah, I am. So it actually kinsa started. When my husband and I got married, I really wanted him to have something special. And so I made the tie that my husband wore when we got married. And I

Lisa Woolfork 35:22

Oh, that's wonderful

Marissa Friezen 35:22

Thank you I actually also made all the ties for all his groomsmen as well as part of their groomsmen gifts. So ever since then, I've kind of really had this weird, like obsession with making ties. I don't know why. But I think that that is a really fun way to add some like pizzazz to an outfit. And they're also relatively easy for me to make. So I just kind of on a whim decided, you know, I really want to start an Etsy shop, I think it'd be I would love to be able to sell my creations. And I felt like that was a really great kind of gateway to get started. So yeah, I've been selling ties for about I opened my Etsy shop about a month and a half ago, I think. So it kind of new. But it's been a really exciting experience.

Lisa Woolfork 35:28

That's great. And have you been having a good response? It's good. It's like you have some really lovely pieces on there.

Marissa Friezen 36:19

Yeah, so I have sold about four ties so far. But I am going to really push them more now I was kind of I kind of just post them and said, Hey, here's what I'm doing. But now I'm really trying to kind of market myself a little bit more to kind of help boost those sales and get different. Different styles on there. And yeah, and really interesting time so far.

Lisa Woolfork 36:47

Oh, I'm glad. I think that sounds like a good strong start, especially now that you also have a plan to kind of push it even farther. That's wonderful. That's good, good, good. Good for you. Well, I will be sure to include a link to your Etsy shop in the show notes as well. Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to get started with sewing or doing aerial work? Let's I want to hear what you have to say to both. What is your advice for someone who wants to get started with sewing?

Marissa Friezen 37:14

Just get started, buy a simple machine. I actually started on one of the Project Runway Brother sewing machines. And I'be sewn I sewed with that all the way up until about 2017 was when I got my new machine. And we just had some really simple stitches on it. And I would say just get started. Find yourself a pattern that you really like it doesn't. And I would say don't start with like a pillow case because like you said, I guess I can kind of be like, Oh, well, not very exciting. I would say start with a simple garment. If that's what you're interested in sewing, just find one that you like, and get started. Just like cooking. I say, if you can follow a recipe, you can sew a garment, that's how I look at it.

Lisa Woolfork 38:09

I like it. That is very good advice. And what about advice for if someone wants to start doing aerial work, if someone wants to start doing that type of strength, poise type. That type, you know, exercise or as a vocation, or as a practice or as, you know, for fitness or for whatever reason, if someone wants to start doing aerial, what would you recommend?

Marissa Friezen 38:41

So, contrary to what everyone would believe, everybody can do it. And I know that sounds crazy, but we have students that are as young as five, and we have students of old 60. So we have a wide range, we have lots of different body types, strength levels, there is something for everybody in the circus and aerial community, you don't have to start out with silk, which is the one that I love. And that's actually one of the hardest ones because you are holding yourself up with just your upper body strength. But you could start with something like the lira or the hammock where the fabric is supporting you a little bit more and you can start building up that strength. That's actually the only exercise that I do, I don't work out at all in any other capacity. And when I first started, I actually was not strong at all, like my upper body strength was so weak. And I just kept pulling back and, and trying the same things over and over and over and eventually they got easier. So I would say start somewhere. The Circus community is so welcoming and so supportive, just like the sewing community. So I would say if you're interested at all, find a local aerial studio near you and give it a go.

Lisa Woolfork 39:57

That is really great that start somewhere so start somewhere, and everybody can do it, everyone can do it. It doesn't surprise me that you have five year olds because I think five year olds do aerials without any type of silks or fabric at all, they just walk out to the middle of the street and just flip over. They're totally fine with that. But folks who are kind of getting up there in years, you know, not that 60 is old, in my opinion. So this is one of the funny things you'll learn as you get older. Marissa is that the number of what counts as old totally changes. You know, it's like, oh, this this age is old that age is old, like no, not anymore. That's not old. Oh, my goodness. But yes, so I think that's really great, I think. And also, I love that there's all different types of body types that can do this as well, because it really is about your individual strength, which is something you can't tell by looking at someone. And so that I really love that too. So that's great. Well, this has been such an exciting, exciting conversation, a great way to talk about what it means to live boldly and to make to trust yourself to trust yourself. I think that's something that I'm taking away from our conversation today is to trust yourself, and you've done a great job of demonstrating how you can trust yourself with your sewing, you trust yourself with your aerial work. And I think as we as we as Black women as we move into 2020 trusting ourselves is something that we can all benefit from. So can you tell us a little bit about how people can find you? Do you want to shout out your your socials how people can find you on Instagram or Facebook and your website again?

Marissa Friezen 41:33

Yeah, so you can find me at So Much Aerial on Instagram. I also do have a page for my Etsy business. And that is Rissewn, RISSEWN at on Instagram. And that's also the name of my Etsy shop. You can find me on Etsy at Rissewn. And yeah, where you can find me.

Lisa Woolfork 42:01

Fantastic. And thank you again, so much for taking the time to join us today. This has been a fantastic conversation, and I really am. Just trust yourself and start somewhere. I think these are both really good encouraging messages for everyone to have at the start of the new year. So thank you again for taking the time to talk with us today. I appreciate it.

Marissa Friezen 42:25

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was awesome.

Lisa Woolfork 42:29

Awesome. Okay, talk soon. Bye Bye.

Marissa Friezen 42:31

All right, bye.

Lisa Woolfork 42:33

I hope you all enjoyed this conversation with Marissa Friezen of So Much Aeriel as much as I did. I really enjoyed and was inspired by her message just trying it and that a little bit of bravery can go a long way in life and in sewing. See you next week.

Lisa Woolfork 42:51

Thank you for joining us for this week's episode of the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. There are a variety of ways that you can support the program. And you're doing it right now. By listening to the pod by listening to the podcast, it does help us grow. Another way to do that is to rate the podcast, review it subscribe to it all of these things are ways that you can support the podcast without having to spend any money at all. If you would like to spend some money to support us, there are ways to do that as well. You can make direct donations to our Patreon site for monthly contributions, as well as one time contributions to Pay Pal, Cash App, or Venmo. And finally, we have another cute, very adorable way for you to support the Black Women Stitch project. It's a pin a PIN enamel lapel pin. That's very cute. It's about two inches wide and one and a half inch tall. And it's the Black Women Stitch logo. And that is $15 with free shipping to the US. And so if you drop $15 in the PayPal Venmo or cash app account, and then send me your email, oh not email. If you send me your mailing address to my email either at Or you send me a direct message on the Black Women Stitch Instagram page. We will put the pin in the mail to you. Again, free shipping $15 for the pin. And all of this goes to support the Black Women Stitch project. Thank you again for joining us this week. Come back next week and we will help you get your stitch together.

Transcribed by

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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