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Episode 24 Carolyn “Diary of a Sewing Fanatic”

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

Hello, everybody. Welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. We are the official podcast of black women stitch the sewing group where Black Lives Matter. And I know I say this every week when I talk to someone, but today I am really super serious when I say that I am thrilled, honored, delighted and all those great adjectives to say that we are talking today with Carolyn Norman, who is Diary Of A Sewing Fanatic on Instagram. She is such a major player, in my opinion, in sewing and home sewing. She makes such beautiful, exquisite work. She's such a powerful voice in the sewing community. And I have long admired her work. And I am very glad that she agreed to speak with us today on the Stitch Please podcast. So welcome, Carolyn, thank you for being here.

Carolyn Norman 1:45

No problem. It's nice to be here and talk with you.

Lisa Woolfork 1:49

So let's talk.. let's take.. let's start at the beginning or as far back as you are willing to go. When did you start sewing? And I recently learned that you did some work in design school and you have a lot of this different background. So tell us about like some of your early sewing experiences.

Carolyn Norman 2:05

I think everyone knows the story that I started sewing at 11. I am-- I was and still am a Barbie fanatic. And when my grandparents would give us allowance, I would go to Woolworths. Does anybody remember Woolworths?

Lisa Woolfork 2:24

Yeah!

Carolyn Norman 2:26

And I would buy clothes for my Barbie doll. And my grandmother got annoyed because she thought that it was a waste of money. And so she took me over to the pattern counter at Woolworths and got me a pattern. When we got home, she took an old dress of hers that she was no longer wearing out of her recycle bin, because everyone recycled everything back then. And she showed me a few hand stitches and how to lay the pattern pieces out. And I spent the rest of the summer making clothes for my Barbie doll off of that one dress and I think another dress she finally contributed to the cause since she saw we were so into it. It was me and my cousin. But what really hooked me was when I got home and went outside the play, and all the little kids could see all of the clothes my Barbie had. And I realized that I had something that a whole lot of other people didn't have. And I really enjoyed the journey of making that summer. So from there, it just progressed. I mean, I went to every class I could after school back when they still taught sewing in school. I think there was a club. When I was in elementary school and I went to the club. I took a few lessons at the Singer store. There used to be loads of Singer stores where you could go and not only buy a sewing machine, but also take classes. I took every home economics sewing class I could in junior high school and high school. When I got ready to go to college, I decided I wanted to major in fashion merchandising. So I majored in fashion merchandising. I worked in the garment district for years, different fashion companies, and even a button company. So I have a pretty long, thorough background.

Lisa Woolfork 4:19

I was thinking that's a really good background.

Carolyn Norman 4:22

(Laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 4:22

And you haven't gotten sick of it yet! That's the thing and you started at 11--

Carolyn Norman 4:26

I love to sew!

Lisa Woolfork 4:26

--and you said you are still doing it. Can you tell me a bit about what it means to work at a button company? I can't imagine like what that involves. Or maybe before we get to that, let's just go over some basic definitions. What is fashion merchandising, and how is that different from fashion design?

Carolyn Norman 4:44

Okay, so when I graduated from high school, you could you could be a couple of things a textile artist, a fashion designer. A fashion merchandiser was the person who was in the stores and set the displays up or a fashion buyer. I originally went to school as fashion merchandising because I wanted to be a buyer. Because when I graduated high school in 1977, a lot of the fashion industry was still located in New York City. So--

Lisa Woolfork 5:16

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 5:16

--when you went to the garment district, you saw those rolling racks and all of the different houses were there. Once I was in college, and I had work-study programs, I worked at a few stores. I remember seeing the designers walking down the street, I could see Liz Claiborne, two, three times a week. No. And she was really kind and really nice.

Lisa Woolfork 5:40

Wow!

Carolyn Norman 5:42

You know, if you stopped and ask her a question, she'd answer you. But the people actually were in the district. By the time I was in my 30s, the district was totally different people were moving off shore or to New Jersey. So, you didn't see the designers anymore. The rolling racks were starting to disappear from the streets. And there was just not a lot of fashion going on in the district.

Lisa Woolfork 6:11

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 6:13

I need another question.

Lisa Woolfork 6:14

No, no. And so I guess one of my questions would be about the working in the button shop. I just keep thinking about like, I know, I love like going to New York and going to places like.. I think for me, because I didn't discover it until after it was in its prime, which is what you're describing, I have met some really fun people just being in like spandex house. I met a muppeteer here from the Jim Henson Workshop, who, I guess their studio is in, in New Jersey. And I was like, oh my gosh! I met someone and he was buying something to make Burt an outfit! You know, like those kind of things which made me very excited? But you're right, I think that, you know, globalization has changed a lot. You know, with things and people moving offshore. I would love for you to tell me a bit about what it meant to work in a button shop like or a button business, like what does that mean? Since you know, there's so many elements of sewing and fashion that we don't think about. But that's somebody's job to figure out how many cards go on a button. That's someone's job to do all those things. And so tell me what that was like.

Carolyn Norman 7:20

Okay, so when I worked in the, for the button company, halfway through my career in the industry, I changed. I wasn't trying to be in merchandising. I actually became an executive assistant-- exactly what I'm doing now. And the reason I got hired at the button company was because I knew that buttons came in sizes. He had hired, he had interviewed all of these people, and they didn't realize buttons came, buttons came in sizes. And I could name the sizes, both in inches and like 3224. And I understood what the "L" meant. And he was just like, okay, you're hired. I literally didn't get out the door. He hired me.

Lisa Woolfork 8:00

Wow.

Carolyn Norman 8:01

As I started working there, it was a firm. We had... I worked in the showroom in New York. They had a factory in Virginia. And then the majority of our buttons were made in China and Hong Kong.

Lisa Woolfork 8:18

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 8:19

So my boss went out to different firms to get them to put buttons on their garments. And the biggest get was all at that time was Walmart. But Walmart didn't want to pay more than half a cent, quarter of a cent for a button.

Lisa Woolfork 8:38

Wow.

Carolyn Norman 8:38

Can you imagine a half a cent for a button?

Lisa Woolfork 8:40

I can imagine Walmart doing just that. That's how they roll.

Carolyn Norman 8:44

(Laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 8:44

They bankrupt small companies.

Carolyn Norman 8:46

Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 8:46

They bankrupt. They do. That's what they do. They have not great. They have terrible policies. So I'm [indistinguishable].

Carolyn Norman 8:50

Terrible policies. So the thing was to get buttons on different designer or lines' shirts. And to do that, we had to develop button cards to show what our line was, how many colors we could do it in, what types we had. In the first year I worked there, my boss was playing with these fiddly oh ugly cards. And I looked at him and I said I think I could design you something better. So I ended up designing the button card line for about two years before we left. And in that capacity I got to go to-- at the time, there were still button dyers in New York City.

Lisa Woolfork 9:36

Oh my goodness.

Carolyn Norman 9:37

There were a whole floors of guys who dyed buttons. They dyed synthetic, they dyed natural. They dyed the shells. They dyed everything. It was the most amazing place to go. And still one of the best things I experienced working in the garment district was getting to go dye buttons. Because not only would I take the buttons for the firm to dye, but if I had a dress I was making I talked nice to the guys and--

Lisa Woolfork 10:05

[indistinguishable]

Carolyn Norman 10:05

--and they would dye it to my swatch

I'd say, can you spare a little bit of that dye around the side. And he would dye it to my swatch. And that's where I learned that we think six or 10 buttons are a lot of buttons. We dealt in grosses, which is 144 buttons

Lisa Woolfork 10:24

144! Goodness gracious.

Carolyn Norman 10:26

At one point, you wanted to be my friend because we had moved from one office to another, and I'd cleaned out the buttons that were like everywhere. And I took home all the ones I liked. Then anybody I knew that sewed got buttons, because they were free. Because they were gonna throw them in the garbage.

Lisa Woolfork 10:43

Oh, wow.

Carolyn Norman 10:44

Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 10:45

Well, thank you for rescuing those amazing buttons.

Carolyn Norman 10:48

I still have a few left in my collection now, actually.

Lisa Woolfork 10:51

That's amazing.

Carolyn Norman 10:52

Yes.

Lisa Woolfork 10:53

Let me ask you about your recent comment about like offshore has made me think about what is your thought on fast fashion? Since you've done this work in the past, since you used to be in fashion merchandising and are aware of the trends, and this is one of the changes. What do you think about fast fashion? And do you think fast fashion has showed up in any way in the sewing community? Or do you see sewing as an alternative to fast fashion?

Carolyn Norman 11:20

Fast fashion is a new term. We didn't really call it fashion, fast fashion when I was in the industry. People have started to go offshore. It was called offshore. And my thought now is always God help us if we have an oil shortage or whatever, because you'll never get the goods out of China or wherever we're having them made. We would have to go back to the way we used to do things, because we wouldn't be able to get things. Fast, fast fashion...I guess it goes along with everything else that we do now. Now everything is fast.

Lisa Woolfork 12:03

Hmm.

Carolyn Norman 12:03

You want something from Amazon, you can choose today. You can choose tomorrow. You can choose your Amazon day, which is only three days later. Everything is fast. You send a message, you send a text, someone responds to you in 20 seconds.

Lisa Woolfork 12:19

And if they don't respond in 20 seconds, you think they're dead off in a ditch somewhere.

Carolyn Norman 12:23

Correct. Everything is fast now, everything. So why wouldn't, why wouldn't fashion be made quickly and the turn be quick. And then it's giants that are handling our fashion or how we obtain clothing-- people like Walmart, "Tarjay", H&M, Forever 21. So, and their goal is to turn it as quickly as possible. Their goal is not to have it sit there for the entire season. The way it used to work was garments would come in, you'd have a sale at Labor Day. Let's say for the fall season, you'd have a sale at Labor Day. But that was all the summer stuff you were getting rid of. Your first major sale would be in October, for Columbus Day. And then you only marked down like 20%.

Lisa Woolfork 13:15

Right.

Carolyn Norman 13:15

And then you'd have another sale, you know around Thanksgiving, Black Friday where things got marked down to 50% or 35%. But all of these markdowns were incorporated into the price on the floor. So it sat for so many weeks at a regular price. And you made so much money off of it that way. And then it sat for the sale at the 25% for so many weeks. And you knew. So you control the pricing as it went--

Lisa Woolfork 13:43

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 13:43

--through. And that I don't think that model exists anymore. I think it's put on the floor for $6.99 and sell it out. And then put something else on the floor for $6.99 and sell out of that.

Lisa Woolfork 13:54

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 13:55

I mean, that's the way I was taught how to merchandise when I was in college.

Lisa Woolfork 13:59

That's right. Let me ask you if you thought about this way of saying that everybody wants everything fast. I want to transition to talk about some of the changes that you've seen in your time as a blogger, as a writer, as a teacher working in the sewing community. Do you feel like there's a certain sense of either urgency behind sewing in terms of if if if... I'm trying to figure out are there some principles of fast fashion that show up in the sewing world? Is there a push? You know, I just recently saw a hashtag that said slow sewing, which made me think about what it meant to sew more slowly instead of like trying to mass produce a bunch of stuff all at once. I don't know what do you think?

Carolyn Norman 14:44

I think that comes that when you first start to sew you are so thrilled that you can make a garment that fits you that you're just producing as fast as you can. And then you get to a place where you have 30 tee shirts, and 10 pairs of jeans, and 14 dresses. And you realize you don't need it quite as quickly. Let me slow it down. That's my interpretation of it. But--

Lisa Woolfork 15:08

Yeah.

Carolyn Norman 15:09

--I'm the older generation. And so someone younger, who's more into sustainable sewing or slow slow sewing, or all the terms that they use might have a totally different take. In my generation, you had a closet full of clothes. You had as many clothes as you get in there. Sometimes you built the second closet, put some more clothes in. It was a, it was a sign of wealth. But I'm a boomer. And we had a different set of values than the next generation coming behind us. And our values were based upon our parents, who were depression babies--

Lisa Woolfork 15:46

Mm, mmhm.

Carolyn Norman 15:46

--and they had nothing, and so--

Lisa Woolfork 15:48

Right.

Carolyn Norman 15:49

--to gain as much stuff as you could gain was like a real thing.

Lisa Woolfork 15:54

Mm, that's right. That's right.

Ok.

Carolyn Norman 15:56

So and that trickled down to their children who bought all the stuff, had big houses, even bigger cars, bigger vacations. Everything big we could do, we did it, because we were born from depression parents, depression-age parents. So this new generation is going smaller. And I guess if you've had things and you could have things of course, you're going smaller.

Lisa Woolfork 16:24

Mmhm.

Carolyn Norman 16:24

But I can't speak to that. I honestly can't.

Lisa Woolfork 16:26

Yeah.

Carolyn Norman 16:28

Because when people say to me, they recycle, I think, hey, I started off recycling.

Lisa Woolfork 16:32

Right? "My first sewing was sustainable back when I went to Woolworths and got that and stopped buying Barbie clothes and just started using a dress, you know, an old dress and turning it into clothes." That's amazing. I always, I would to also, I like to sew for my Barbies, but I imagine people like you who sew for your Barbies... I don't know if you know Benita Hinton she's, um she's also she's in New Jersey. She does embroidery. She sewed leather goods for her Barbies.

Carolyn Norman 17:00

Benita?

Lisa Woolfork 17:00

Yeah.

Carolyn Norman 17:01

Is she Newby and Stitch or Newby and Stash?

Lisa Woolfork 17:03

Yeah, Newby and Sistah, Newby and Sistah. Yeah.

Carolyn Norman 17:05

She's got amazing embroidery!

Lisa Woolfork 17:08

I know. But she said she started. I was like, how did you get started with leather? She was like, that's the first thing I ever sewed with. And I was like, I imagined that my dolls look like you know, they were extras on the set of The Walking Dead, the way I was dressing them.

Carolyn Norman 17:21

[Laughs]

Lisa Woolfork 17:21

And if you sewed your Barbie clothes, you know, all summer and for your friends. And she sewed her Barbie clothes out of leather... I was like, I'm not going to show you all any images of what my Barbie clothes look like. So I'm pretty sure it was like, you know, tied with you know, my mother would let me use the sewing machine and it was tied with like a shoestring or something around the waist. It was a mess.

Carolyn Norman 17:40

No, my Barbies had sequin ball gowns and--

Lisa Woolfork 17:43

Oh my gosh!

Carolyn Norman 17:44

--I remember she had a satin jumpsuit with a sequin duster over it.

Lisa Woolfork 17:50

Girl, nice!

Yes.

Wow.

Carolyn Norman 17:54

I my grandmother gave me an old church dress.

Lisa Woolfork 17:59

And so you had the materials to make these things. Did you make stuff for your friends when your friends and neighbors saw that you could do this? Were they like trying to barter with you to get stuff for their dolls? That's what I would have done.

Carolyn Norman 18:09

Not at 11. No.

Lisa Woolfork 18:11

I don't have. Yeah, no..

Carolyn Norman 18:13

I was all about me at 11.

Lisa Woolfork 18:14

Well, I know. I was the same, but I couldn't sew well. So I had to be about trying to figure out how to get you to make something for me.

You're listening to the Stitch Please podcast, and I'm talking today with Carolyn Norman, Diary Of A Sewing Fantatic. Stay tuned to hear more from Carolyn after the break.

Stitch Please--The official podcast of Black Women Stitch. We talk a lot about sewing. But if you want to see and not just hear about some of the things we've been discussing, feel free to join us on the socials. You can find us at Stitch Please on Facebook. And you can also find us on Instagram @BlackWomenStitch. You can find photos of projects that we've been working on, really interesting social commentary. And on Thursdays at 3pm, Eastern Standard Time, you can join Black Women Stitch for a live Instagram chat. Again, that's every Thursday at 3pm. So find us on the socials follow up with us. We are happy to hear your direct messages. You can reach out to us at the Black Women Stitch page on Instagram. And we'll help you get your stitch together.

You're listening to the stitch please podcast and my guest today is Carolyn Norman, of Diary Of A Sewing Fantatic. I asked Carolyn about some of the changes she's seen in the industry. And she revealed a really great tidbit about why patterns are so expensive these days. Listen up. Let's talk about some of the other changes that you've seen in your time. And I'm wondering if you wanted to talk a bit about some of your writing, and what you've seen what changes you've seen or growth you've seen in the field of sewing blogging as a, I don't know if you would call it a field, or a practice, or a discipline, or a hobby. But what changes you've seen over time there, as well as just in general with how sewing has exploded. Or do you think it has?

Carolyn Norman 20:29

Okay, so you have to remember that I learned to sew 1968, 1969. So, sewing was taught in every high school. Sewing was taught in every junior high school.

Lisa Woolfork 20:44

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 20:45

You had mentioned something before earlier, when we were talking about the price of patterns. Apattern cost 50 cents. I've had them cost $1. It costs so little, because 1) prices were lower, but also because so many people did it. There was a sewing machine in every home. I don't remember going into a home as a small child that there wasn't a sewing machine. It doesn't mean that the person actually sewed a lot. But everyone had one. Everyone had one. Yeah, it--

Lisa Woolfork 21:14

Yes, yes.

Carolyn Norman 21:14

--it was like a microwave now.

Lisa Woolfork 21:16

Yes, yes.

Carolyn Norman 21:18

So the cost for a pattern was low, because it was a, in my opinion, there was a larger demand for them. Over time, as women started to go to work--

Lisa Woolfork 21:31

Mmhmm.

Carolyn Norman 21:32

--the pattern companies changed to this thing called fast, faster, fastest to get. And they started to produce these patterns, so that you could make a skirt in a night. Or you could make a shirt and in a Saturday afternoon. Because you know, you worked all day now. And you work five days a week. So you didn't have that time to devote to leisurely sitting around in your sewing room and making these beautiful outfits to wear to church or out to the parties or whatever.

Lisa Woolfork 22:00

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 22:01

And we went to the fast faster fastest. Then around the 80s, I think we just sewed. But the you could see that the sewing pool was shrinking. Especially since they stopped teaching home-ec and sewing in schools. My oldest daughter did not have home-ec. She will be almost 40 and she did not have home-ec in school.

Lisa Woolfork 22:29

Hmm, mmhm

Carolyn Norman 22:30

She did not learn to sew. And the first thing out of her mouth was BabyPhat. She wanted some BabyPhat jeans.

Lisa Woolfork 22:37

Oh, she wanted the stuff that you could buy in the store. Yes.

Carolyn Norman 22:41

Right. So this sewing kind of contracted. And then it became like a niche kind of thing.

Lisa Woolfork 22:52

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 22:53

I told this story on another podcast where I've always sewn. I've sewn since I took my machine in college. I sewed when I worked in the garment district. I sewed. I sewed through all of it. And I was working at a firm and I didn't get a raise. And the woman said to me, I didn't need a raise. They gave raises to people who needed raises. I was like what are you talking about? Wait, wait. She goes, I go, "What are you talking about?" She goes "Well, you always have such brand new, such nice brand new clothes on that we just figured you didn't need a raise." I made those clothes. And she was like what? People don't sew anymore. Yes, they did.

Lisa Woolfork 23:44

Wow.

Carolyn Norman 23:45

And I learned from that. For like every subsequent job, when people would start saying things about my clothing. I'd go well, I made it.

I made it.

Lisa Woolfork 23:54

I made it. Give me a raise.

Carolyn Norman 23:56

Right. Make sure that I don't get I don't lose a raise over that ever again.

Lisa Woolfork 24:01

Exactly. It's like I do a great job here at this job. And then I go home and make clothes. So--

Carolyn Norman 24:05

Right.

Lisa Woolfork 24:05

There we go.

Carolyn Norman 24:06

So I need I need the money. I need to be able to buy more fabric.

Lisa Woolfork 24:10

Exactly. Absolutely. I was wondering if you could think a bit about... I know you talked about.. I love this theory that you offered about as sewing contracted or got smaller in the 1980s or so around that time that pattern prices started to increase. What do you imagine the state or how would you describe the state of the sewing landscape today? Do you continue, do you still think that it's shrinking? Because what you just described really helped me because I couldn't figure out how or why the price of patterns didn't keep up with inflation. Because you know, when you look at the differences in inflation between 1970 for example, which was the year that I was born in 1970 and today,

Carolyn Norman 24:55

Oh my God, you were born in 1970? (Laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 24:57

I know right?

Carolyn Norman 24:59

That's crazy.

Lisa Woolfork 25:01

I know. Isn't that bananas? But you know what, you know, the funny part is my son and I were talking, I dropped him off at college and he said, "Mom, this our new show is coming out. We're gonna watch our episode." I said, "Okay, cool. When is it coming out?" He says, "Oh, I don't know, sometime in 2020 they said. And I was like, "We have to wait 20 years to watch that show?" He was like, "Mom, Mom, what? What year do you? What year do you think it is? And I was like, it's like, 2000, right?" And he's like, "Mom, it is 2020 right now, that is the year." Because it sounds like a fake year. Like, I cannot believe it that it's actually 2020. I keep writing down on checks and stuff. And I'm like, this can't be right. Yeah, so...

Carolyn Norman 25:44

Just think I went to kindergarten in 1965. I remember JFK being assassinated.

Lisa Woolfork 25:52

Wow. I mean--

Carolyn Norman 25:55

I remember Martin Luther King being assassinated.

Lisa Woolfork 25:59

Wow.

I remember learning "Martin Luther King". We had a hymn about Martin Luther King that we sang in my elementary school. Because it was right around the time he must have gotten his holiday or something. I don't know why we were thinking about that. But we were definitely thinking about that. But I don't remember those things. I don't have those memories. But I have like, you know, other ones that are not nearly as you know, historically significant.

Carolyn Norman 26:24

The turbulent, the turbulent 60s, the disco 70s. I remember all of it.

Lisa Woolfork 26:31

Oh, that's amazing. That's amazing. The Jackson Five on TV?

Carolyn Norman 26:35

I wanted to be Mrs. Michael Jackson.

Lisa Woolfork 26:37

And Penny on, Penny on "Good Times," when Penny came on "Good Times"?

Carolyn Norman 26:41

I watched Penny on "Good Times" and when she was on "Different Strokes". Let's not forget she was also on "Different Strokes".

Lisa Woolfork 26:47

Gosh. Have you ever gone back to watch any of those shows like on Nick At Night or whatever? Now Nick At Night is like the doggone Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That's allegedly like Old School television. And I'm like, it's from the 90s. And they're like, yeah, it's old. And I'm like, shut up. I'm gonna stab you in the eye with this fountain pen.

Carolyn Norman 27:04

Wow, then you can imagine how I feel.

Lisa Woolfork 27:06

Exactly. Yeah.

Carolyn Norman 27:07

I was raising children who watched "The Fresh Prince".

Lisa Woolfork 27:12

I think you can.. I have... I have cable because I live with my mother and cable is easiest for her. And I have cable. And there are a lot of cable shows. And there's some like Aspire or TV One that play things like "Good Times," and play and play "Different Strokes, play "A Different World". But I watch "A Different World" off Amazon Prime, actually.

Carolyn Norman 27:39

Oh, yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 27:41

So there are, they are back on television because there's now so many TV channels that they need to fill it with something

Carolyn Norman 27:47

[indistinguishable]

Lisa Woolfork 27:47

You're right about that.

Carolyn Norman 27:49

So they are filling it with older shows.

Lisa Woolfork 27:52

I remember when I was a kid, old school shows were like watching Andy Griffith, which I still still watch sometimes.

Carolyn Norman 27:57

Okay, watch that in real time.

Lisa Woolfork 28:00

Wow. And like me and my mom still talk about it. It's so funny. Okay, so let's transition to talking about.. Thank you so much for that insight about the patterns. I wanted to talk about your thoughts or opinions on PDF patterns, on precise sewing.

Carolyn Norman 28:19

[Laughs]

Lisa Woolfork 28:19

Like I really want to get into your angel shirt. And I want to get into what you consider what the essential sewing skills are and how those are being preserved and promoted or how you think they're being maybe lost.

Carolyn Norman 28:37

Okay, can we start at the back and work up to PDF pattern?

Lisa Woolfork 28:40

Yes, let's do let's do. So what are some of the essential skills? Because I know that you have that column in Stone Magazine with giving people different advice. I don't mean to like sound like a snob, but I was watching... I was... I was somewhere. I don't know if I was on Instagram or on Facebook. And someone like had no idea what a maybe like a tailor's ham was. Like they'd never heard of it. They didn't know what it was or what it was for. And I'm like, wow, am I really a snob? Because like, I don't know, I don't know if because I've been sewing. I've mean I've not been sewing as long as you. I've been sewing about 25 years. But like when I started, you know, we all got the tools. You know you got your your curve. You got the.. you got your hands, your seam roll. And I, also I'm a notions junkie. I freakin' love notions. I have like--

Carolyn Norman 29:31

[Laughs]

Lisa Woolfork 29:33

--there's never one way to do something. I can always find five tools to do the same thing. And then I find my favorite one. You get what I'm saying? Or like, or someone who'd like never heard of interfacing and didn't know what that was. And so I don't know. I'm just being like... because I love learning and like I love going to classes. And I love those kind of things and I don't want to wing it. So I don't know. What do you think?

Carolyn Norman 29:58

I don't get annoyed at people who asked those questions because I remember we were all beginners at one time.

Lisa Woolfork 30:05

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 30:07

I get annoyed when the question is asked when examples are presented to you. And then instead of doing the work like googling it, you come back and ask another question. That annoys me, because information is so accessible right now. You don't really need to follow up with a question when someone sets you on the path. You should show a little initiative and go out and learn a little more, I think. But I don't get annoyed when people ask what some people think of as dumb questions. Because a lot of people are coming to sewing as adults, or young people, and they didn't have the benefit of a class or a mother or a grandmother to teach them how to sew. So they have a lot of questions. And when they make that first thing, and they have so much enthusiasm, and they look up and look around and see what other people are making and how beautiful they are; And they want to get there. So they asked those questions. And part of it is is because at that point, they also don't know what to Google to get the answer to the question.

Lisa Woolfork 31:09

That's right.

Carolyn Norman 31:11

So I don't have a problem with that. And I think we should encourage as many people who asked those quote unquote, dumb questions because they want to learn more, we should encourage them as much as we can. Because no one started sewing fully formed. We all started at the beginning. We all had to learn how to do it.

Lisa Woolfork 31:29

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 31:30

Okay, so did that answer that question?

Lisa Woolfork 31:31

It did. It did. I realized too, that I ask questions in clusters, because I'm so excited. And so like, I'll ask like, five questions at a time. And I know that's annoying. So thanks for being so patient.

Carolyn Norman 31:43

No problem. And the second part of that question was?

Lisa Woolfork 31:46

I think the second part of that question was, do you believe that there are essential sewing skills? And are they continuing? Are these being promoted? Or are they being lost in today's environment? And I just want to be clear, I never said anything was a dumb question or a stupid question.

Carolyn Norman 32:02

No, you didn't.

Lisa Woolfork 32:03

I agree with you. I agree. I think that people don't know unless they ask. And like, I wouldn't have known that it was called a "tailor's ham" unless someone.. My mother-in-law actually gave it to me when I first started sewing. And that's the same one I've had a bit since before I was married. She gave that to me. So I've had it forever. And then I see them around, and I collect them and I get more because, you know, I like notions.

Carolyn Norman 32:25

How many do you have?

Lisa Woolfork 32:27

Well...

Carolyn Norman 32:30

[Laughs]

Lisa Woolfork 32:30

This isn't really like that. That's not the kind of program we're on right now. Like, no one cares about how many hams I have. I mean, you could..That's not like, you know--

Carolyn Norman 32:34

[Laughs]

Lisa Woolfork 32:35

--It's not really on me to say how many hams I may or may not have.

Carolyn Norman 32:46

It was just an intriguing thought that maybe they are like 10 of them lined up perfectly.

Lisa Woolfork 32:51

There may or may not be some of different sizes and different variations. And you know, may or may not, you know.

Carolyn Norman 33:00

You know there are different pressing hams. There's a bigger, fatter one. There's a skinnier, smaller one. There's a long, long skinny one.

Lisa Woolfork 33:02

I do know.

Carolyn Norman 33:05

There's one for a pants leg. I mean, I think people think that there's like one kind and you're supposed to use it for everything. And no, there's, you can end up with about five or six of them. But I just saw 10 fat little hams lined up. [Laughs]

Lisa Woolfork 33:27

Well, I do like ham in all forms. Let's just put it that way. I like ham as in the animal, pig, bacon. And I like ham as in the "really cool", sewing notions. And I do have some pretty really interestingly shaped ones that are just like that people like when they stopped sewing, or they've moved on or whatever they give them to me. And they are freaking amazing. Really, really.

Carolyn Norman 33:50

Yes, yes.

Lisa Woolfork 33:50

And so in terms of essential skills, do you think that... I know there's no there's no one right way to sew.

Carolyn Norman 33:57

No, no no. I have one.

Lisa Woolfork 33:58

Oh, you do? Tell me.

Carolyn Norman 33:59

I have one. And it's like my pet peeve. And I'd like to-- I'm gonna throw out someone's name that I don't know if a lot of people know. But Anne of Gorgeous Fabrics has written some amazing columns about pressing. Oh, my God! Can we just press the seams? Press them flat, press them open.

Lisa Woolfork 34:20

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 34:21

Take the time to press your seams. Make sure you learn the proper setting on your iron to get the best seam. Buy a seam roll so that you can put that seam on, that finish seam on top of it, so you can press it. Get some pressing cloths. Pressing cloths are important. You should have several kinds. If you can't afford a needle board to press velvet, then use a towel. But press everything.

Lisa Woolfork 34:52

I love it. That's your.. I am so excited. You know why I am so excited? Because one of the very first episodes of this podcast was all about pressing. It was about pressing versus ironing. And like, you know, iron...this is what this is what is ironing but pressing is absolutely essential. And I talked about this press cloth. I had this one poor little raggedy press cloth that I've had since my oldest who's now 21 was a baby. It's shredded on the sides. I know it's got a hole in it. I think he might have written on it at some point. I mean, like, I love that thing.

Carolyn Norman 35:29

And you know you can replace that right?

Lisa Woolfork 35:31

No, I can't!

Carolyn Norman 35:34

You could. No, no, you could take that specific press front, pressing cloth, and put it in a frame and hang it up in your sewing room. So then it becomes a treasured heirloom. And you can buy another one.

Lisa Woolfork 35:47

I could put it next to all the hams.

Carolyn Norman 35:49

Yes, you could!

Lisa Woolfork 35:51

I'm liking how you think.

Carolyn Norman 35:52

I need a picture of these hams. [Laughs]

Lisa Woolfork 35:54

I am not going to indict myself. I'm not going to say any more words about the hams that I may or may not have on the grounds that it might incriminate me. So we talked about the importance of pressing and the importance of like that as an essential skill. Because it really does make a difference with how your garments look. And press cloth will save you a lot of grief.

Carolyn Norman 36:18

And you should have a couple.

Lisa Woolfork 36:19

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 36:19

You shouldn't have just one type.

Lisa Woolfork 36:21

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 36:22

I have a couple. I have a muslin one. I have a silk organza ones. I have an old dritz one that I probably don't use. And I can honestly say I probably use my silk organza ones the most because I can see through them. And yet press and it works. And because they're silk, they take a lot of heat. They take a lot of steam without bending out of shape.

Lisa Woolfork 36:47

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 36:48

It's one of the best inventions ever. And I don't even I didn't even buy these. I just sliced them off the end of the bolt of silk organza I had. I even have them in links and sizes. Like I have long skinny ones for pants and shorter square ones.

Lisa Woolfork 37:08

Yeah. Oh, that's excellent. That's a great idea. I do have some transparent ones. But I think I might have bought them as transparent. And maybe they are silk organza. But they're not nearly as nice and as long and varied as the ones that you're describing.

Carolyn Norman 37:23

Buy a yard of silk organza and cut it up in different shapes--

Lisa Woolfork 37:26

And just be done with it.

Carolyn Norman 37:27

--Yeah, and be done with it.

Lisa Woolfork 37:28

Yeah, I think that's a good idea.

Carolyn Norman 37:30

Silk organza. Not polyester.

Lisa Woolfork 37:33

No, no, no. Because.. Yeah, we do not want us to melt on my--

Carolyn Norman 37:37

Right.

Lisa Woolfork 37:37

--on my garment.

So silk organza. That's lovely. You're listening to the Stitch Please podcast and I'm talking today with Carolyn Norman Diary of a sewing fanatic about some sewing essentials, changes in the industry, and blogging and influencing, and more. Stay tuned for more from Carolyn. (Music Plays)

Hello stitchers. We have a limited edition opportunity for you to support the stitch please podcast and the Black Woman's Stitch project as a whole-- and get some more fabric in your collection! These are mystery fabric boxes of fabrics that have been divided into woven and knit. There's boxes that are stuffed with black and white fabrics. There's boxes of Chevron fabrics. There's boxes of fabrics called, I think, adventure or nature or something like that. And these are completely full of fabrics. These are medium flat rate USPS boxes that can be sent directly to you for $30. And that shipping is included. So if you're interested in building your stash, or taking a chance on some really cool fabrics, let me know. You can DM me on Instagram @BlackWomanStitch. Or you can send me an email at BlackWomenStitch@gmail.com. And we will send you a mystery box of very cool fabrics-- $30 shipping and insurance included. And that'll help you get just stitch together, too! Thanks! You're listening to the Stitch Please podcast. My guest today is Carolyn Norman, of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. And we're going to talk now about PDF patterns and diversity in the sewing industry. Stay tuned. Let's shift to talking a bit about... I wanted to talk about PDF patterns, your thoughts on those. I know they are popular. And I'm very.. unless you don't want to. We don't have to!

No, no we can talk about PDF patterns. I just feel like I'm the old woman in the shoe railing against the people walking by. "Don't buy those!" (Laughs)

And I wanted to talk about diversity in the sewing community, in terms of race and size inclusivity, you know-- and some of your thoughts on that because I definitely admire your leadership and intervention, and using your platform to kind of speak out about that. So I think that that's really.. Essentially at Black Women Stitch, I really --we really-- are about that. We are about not "diversity" because I hate that word. That is the word I think means everything and nothing, at least the way that it's come to be completely watered down.

Carolyn Norman 40:23

But there was a group of people who really liked that word. It might not be us. But there is a group that really likes that word "diversity". It makes them feel good to say it.

Lisa Woolfork 40:32

I suppose, I suppose. But those are not people that I choose to center in anything important in my life, and certainly not on this podcast. So let's talk about PDF and PDF patterns and why you hate them. So first, let me tell you why I started out as a hater. So that way, you'll know that you're on friendly terrain. So I did not like PDF patterns because I used to buy all my patterns-- while I still kind of do-- from the store you love to hate also-- Joanne's craft store. Yeah, I used to go there. I still do. I'm not gonna front. I was just there two days ago, and I'm sure I might go tomorrow.

Carolyn Norman 41:11

(Laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 41:11

I'm actually pretty sure I am definitely going to Joanne's tomorrow after work.

Carolyn Norman 41:16

Like visiting the crack house.

Lisa Woolfork 41:18

Well, yes, yes, crack is apparently really addictive. And so as Joanne's. I admit that, I admit that. That's the first step to recovery.

Carolyn Norman 41:29

(Laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 41:30

So I would buy patents for $1 50 or $1 or $2 or $5. Never more than that. They never got up to be that high.

Carolyn Norman 41:37

Can I tell you a quick story before you go any further?

Lisa Woolfork 41:40

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 41:40

You guys are spoiled.

Lisa Woolfork 41:43

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 41:43

spoiled. Because up until the last decade, maybe--

Lisa Woolfork 41:52

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 41:53

--nobody ran $1.99, $2.99, $3.99 pattern sales. Literally, I remember being thrilled to get a flyer they were that they were 2 for $5. And they had them like once every three or four months. And I would buy.. my kids can tell you horror stories about having to wait to get into the store and having to sit at the at the pattern books while I went off with this list of 20 patterns. Because I waited for the 2 for fives.

Lisa Woolfork 42:22

Wow.

Carolyn Norman 42:23

You guys are spoiled.

Lisa Woolfork 42:24

I think we are spoiled I think. And I definitely admit that. And I feel like they are trying to shake us off that spoil pattern right now or so to speak. They're trying--

Carolyn Norman 42:34

They're trying to survive.

Lisa Woolfork 42:35

Yeah, yeah. And that's why I'm glad you explained about why patterns cost more now because fewer people are buying them. So that absolutely makes sense. And so it seems to me that to buy a PDF pattern for $12 or $16... Well, I taped maybe two patterns. But I say that taping PDF patterns decreases my will to live.

Carolyn Norman 43:03

(Laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 43:05

So... I cannot. The way my nerves are set up is I cannot tape a pattern. I absolutely cannot. And I have a friend. She's a she does fabric. Her name is Canora Renae. She's (indistinguishable). She has three girls and she has told her girls that this is a game. And those girls.. Carolyn, she has got them trained to tape patterns for fun.

Smart woman!

Isn't she's smart? Like she'll give them a pack of paper. And they're like, oh can we have some tape? And they just go to town. And I was like girl, well done Mama. But I have two boys and they are not going for that. They are not interested in that in any way. And you know consider how much... Actually it's funny. I did get my own mother. She came here she wanted me to make her this dress. It was--

Carolyn Norman 43:53

That's elder abuse.

Lisa Woolfork 43:55

It is not. Look here. As we say, look at here. She wanted it and I said I will help you. I will help I will make it for you..--

Carolyn Norman 44:04

Elder abuse.

Lisa Woolfork 44:05

-- but you've got to take the pattern and you got to cut it out. Well she did the taping--

Carolyn Norman 44:11

I'm going to need to report you. That's elder abuse.

Lisa Woolfork 44:13

--and then, Carolyn, I gave her my scissors to cut out the pattern because she's sewn a lot. She and her mother were excellent seamstresses. But my scissors are all spring loaded because I have issues with my hands. And she couldn't cut with my spring loaded scissors. And I don't have any standard shears because they're too heavy. And so she was like, I can't use your scissors. I really hate taping of this pattern. So I just I made it for and it worked out fine. But it was pretty funny. She was not happy with me and all that doggone tape. So that is why..why would someone do that? Why would someone go through that? So then they say well, people who live far away, people who don't have access to fabric stores, people who you know. So what are your thoughts on that whole thing? What are your thoughts on PDF patterns?

Carolyn Norman 44:59

I don't like them. And I don't like them for a couple of reasons. One, I feel that you've paid someone $12, $14, $18, $20 for a pattern. And you get a computer file. Then you have to use your paper, your ink, and your time to print them out. And let's say we just use $25 as a base. You've spent $25. sSay it takes you an hour, maybe two. Because we all get to the point in the middle of taping that we go, oh my god deliver me. So, two hours. So right now your time is at $50. The ink, a ream of paper. A ream of paper is not cheap. Papers are let's say $7, $8. Right? Okay, so all of this is what you've already invested. You invest on top of the cost of that pattern that you paid for. Then, if you're like me, who is not a standard size, I now have the trace the damn thing out, make alterations to it. And so if my sewing time is precious, I've used two or three days just trying to get a pattern, right? That's my first problem. So then people go, but you don't have to tape it. You can send it to PDF plotting, or one of the plotting people.

Lisa Woolfork 46:32

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 46:34

So that's another $8 or $11. So you dropped $14, $12, $14, $20, whatever. And then you drop another $8 to $10 or $11 for a pattern. And so your cost now is up around the cost of Vogue pattern not on sale.

Lisa Woolfork 46:53

Right, right.

Carolyn Norman 46:55

Okay, so that's, that's my first challenge with it. Now, I understand people who say that they live in remote areas, and that the only way they're going to get a pattern is the PDF version. And so PDF patterns work for them. And I'm not knocking them because I'm sure if I lived in the Antarctica and wanted to sew, and the person that I moved there with would only let me cart 10 of the 150 boxes I have I might be more inclined to try PDF patterns. Because I'm sure there's not a craft store. Or I know you hate Hobby Lobby.

Lisa Woolfork 47:34

(Laughs)

Carolyn Norman 47:34

We're not even gonna talk about it. We're just gonna agree to disagree.

Lisa Woolfork 47:38

Yes, indeed.

Carolyn Norman 47:40

A Hobby Lobby around a Walmart again. I know people hate that place, too.

Lisa Woolfork 47:46

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 47:49

Or even if I wanted to order those patterns from club BMV, it would probably take me the next season to get them. So I understand why people in remote areas use PDF patterns. But for us, where it's a really convenient, I don't understand it. I don't get it. And the word I use most of the time is "scam" which I'm sure does not make me appealing to indie designers who do such hard work in bringing out those lovely patterns that everyone loves.

Lisa Woolfork 48:27

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 48:28

So, it's just my personal thing. I don't like PDF patterns.

Lisa Woolfork 48:35

I get it. And I'm glad that we could share that so that other people can know what you think. And people can develop their own opinions.

Carolyn Norman 48:41

Right? It's on my blog, all you have to do is read the blog. I write there enough times about it.

Lisa Woolfork 48:45

(Laughs) Let me ask you about size inclusivity or inclusivity and diversity in the sewing community more generally.

Carolyn Norman 48:53

One is getting better.

Lisa Woolfork 48:54

It's getting better. One of the reasons that some people do like PDF patterns is that the independent designers, they argue, --and I do think this is true,-- are more size inclusive than the Big Four. I believe that there are some independent pattern designers out there who are--

Carolyn Norman 49:10

In last 12 months. In the last 12 months.

Lisa Woolfork 49:16

So you think this is a very, very recent development?

Carolyn Norman 49:19

Yes.

Lisa Woolfork 49:20

Tell me more.

Carolyn Norman 49:21

Come on! Why, there was a huge hullabaloo just a year ago. The sewcialists just posted about it a year ago, where there was an Instagram post written. And all of these indie designers came on who we will not name names because people are really trying to get better and so yay (applauds) for trying to get better. But they were giving all the reasons why they should not have to size up.

Lisa Woolfork 49:49

(Gasps) Whoa.

Carolyn Norman 49:50

So now it's in the last year. Please! Come on!

Lisa Woolfork 49:54

Yep, yep.

Carolyn Norman 49:55

And I have been fighting with the Big Four from at least the beginning of my blog. If you go back and read stuff at the very beginning of my blog, I used to regularly rail against the fact that they would bring out a pencil skirt, a pencil skirt. But they couldn't grade it up to a 22 or 24. And I don't care what anyone says, the Big Four still has a thin problem.

Lisa Woolfork 50:21

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 50:22

They still have a thin problem. Look at the examples of things that they show on their social media. Look at the examples of things that they think are well fitted, or are wonderful makes.

Lisa Woolfork 50:37

Yes, yes.

Carolyn Norman 50:40

Yes, they include a fat girl every now and then.

Lisa Woolfork 50:43

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 50:44

Yes, they make sure to include people of color, all people of color. But that's easy to do. Because all of us is out here sewing and we're on social media. Like that ain't hard.

Lisa Woolfork 50:55

That's right.

Carolyn Norman 50:56

And then I think they're lacking in the fact that they make children's patterns. But you, never see children on their Instagram feeds or their social media. I think they're lacking in the fact that there's a whole set of men who are selling now--

Lisa Woolfork 51:13

That's true!

Carolyn Norman 51:13

--and you rarely see decent men's patterns.

Mm hmm. So why is their market share shrinking? Because they're not serving the market. Aske me the last time I bought a Butterick, Calls, or Vogue. It's been a year.

Lisa Woolfork 51:32

Wow.

Carolyn Norman 51:34

Why? I've been such a faithful customer since I was 11 years old. But if I'm not running out to buy the latest pattern, to quickly whip it up, and then find me a wonderful spot to stand and pose and take a picture, then you don't want to acknowledge me. And you know, you asked me when when we weren't talking.. And this is where I'm going off the rails and people are gonna go oh, my God, let me unfollow this crazy lady.

Lisa Woolfork 52:07

(Laughs)Or you get new followers!

Carolyn Norman 52:11

This is my challenge with sewing, and social media today. Everyone gets to do it the way they want. I'm not knocking anyone's game. If you are into, you know, selling and posing and, you know, doing the best pictures, you can. Hey, go for it! Yay, rah, rah for you. But I miss sewing where I got to see details. And I miss sewing where I got to see your process. And I miss Sewing with you explained why you picked that piece of fabric, what drew you to it, and how you manipulated it. And why you even thought that that would work for this garment. I miss that. And when we first started out as social media and sewing, that's what it was all about. Yeah, it wasn't about pretty pictures.

Lisa Woolfork 53:01

Right? It wasn't about how many garments you could make, how fast you could make them, how fast you'd get them up on your blog, how many pictures you could take. Blah Blah Blah. It wasn't that. It was about the process. And it was about the love we had for the craft.

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 53:16

And I don't always see that now. And I follow a lot of people.

Lisa Woolfork 53:23

Yes. Yes. I really love that. Thank you for that. Because it seems like now it's much more at least what I hear you saying is their preoccupation is no longer with the process. It's with just the outcome. And if that's the case, then it's it's just a fashion picture like any other fashion picture, as opposed to I utterly transformed yards and yards of fabric into this piece. And let me show you how I did it. Or this is why I did an inverted pleat. Or this is why.. or look, I decided to do a flat fell seam instead of a French seam for this reason, Like these kind of things.

Carolyn Norman 54:05

And even all of that seaming stuff. Okay, you know, I flat felled all those seams in my shirt. Why? Why'd you waste that time?

Lisa Woolfork 54:14

Oh..

Carolyn Norman 54:15

Why? Who does it? What does it prove? What did you do it for? Once you know the technique, and you can do it --unless you're wearing a man shirt-- I don't understand why women are flat felling all the seams in a shirt. But again, crazy lady talking over here. So please feel free to disregard me. This is just my opinion. My thing is the love of why did you pick that fabric? Why did you use it for that garment?

Lisa Woolfork 54:43

Yeah.

Carolyn Norman 54:43

Why did you? Why did 10 other people see that fabric online or 100 other people see that fabric online and didn't see what you saw. And can you explain why you saw that? And then why did you decide to do these kinds of things to it? Can I tell you someone online who really excites me now who doesn't have a lot of followers and wish more people would follow her?

Lisa Woolfork 55:08

Tell us about her so we can put her on.

Carolyn Norman 55:10

Lynn Wardrobe Sews.

Lisa Woolfork 55:12

Okay.

Carolyn Norman 55:14

I know she takes fancy pictures, but she's in California, so I give her that. But her sewing is immaculate. And lately, she's been sewing a lot. And she sews a hell of a lot better than I do. Okay, I'm the first to say when someone sews better than I do. I love to sew, but I'm not precise. I am not precise.

Lisa Woolfork 55:37

Um, I find that hard to believe.

Carolyn Norman 55:40

I am not precise. If I was precise, the angel shirt would have been right the first time.I would not have had to go back and fix it.

Lisa Woolfork 55:54

Well, since we are on the angel shirt... I love that because I love when I'm doing like my fussy cutting and all that, I love that kind of symmetry and replication that we can see in patterns. So tell me about what happened the first time with the angel shirt. Because when I looked at it the first time I was like, uh oh, and then you fixed it. And I was like how.. is this? How does she do that?

Carolyn Norman 56:17

That shirt was a hot mess when I sewed it together. And I was so pissed. Because that was one of those times where I hadn't relied on a little bit of luck. I had been precise. That's why I don't sew precise. I've been precise, I lay the pieces I checked to make sure I'd marked to make sure the markings were right. And still somewhere in there it shifted. And so my two pieces were different.

Lisa Woolfork 56:45

Wow.

Carolyn Norman 56:46

And so the choice was to trash it, to wear it as is, or to fix it. And I was in a good mood that night after being so pissed. And I decided I could fix the shirt. And I decided that I was going to photograph each step of fixing the shirt and write a blog post about it, so people could see that just because it starts out as a mess doesn't mean it has to end up as a mess.

Lisa Woolfork 57:16

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 57:17

And so I fixed the shirt. And then I link to the blog post. And you could see step by step how I fixed it. And I tried to make the wording simple enough so that people could follow along.

Lisa Woolfork 57:30

Mm hmm.

Carolyn Norman 57:31

Because I like that part of sewing. I don't need to make 50 million things anymore. To me, it's the challenge of how can I take that piece of fabric and make it into something wearable. To me that's magic.

Lisa Woolfork 57:46

Yeah.

Carolyn Norman 57:47

To me, that's a superpower.

Lisa Woolfork 57:48

It is.

Carolyn Norman 57:49

That's what I like about sewing.

Lisa Woolfork 57:51

Yes.

Carolyn Norman 57:52

And I just would like to see more of that from other people.

Lisa Woolfork 57:55

Yeah. So tell me what's next for you. You were saying earlier that you are not like promoting any product. So you're not like, you know, partnering with any type of your... So what's next for you? And when you think about sewing for 2020? What is Carolyn's 2020 sewing look like?

Carolyn Norman 58:15

I just want to sew.

Lisa Woolfork 58:15

Do you have any plans?

Carolyn Norman 58:19

I just want to sew. I have no plans. Though some of my friends wouldn't say that's true. Because they'll say what are you sewing next? And I'll run down a list of things. But seriously, it's just to sew. I just want to sew. Then another reason why I haven't partnered with anyone is that I want to be able to say whatever I want to say about the election that's coming up.

Lisa Woolfork 58:39

Same! That's why I don't have any sponsors, Carolyn. Because I want to say whatever I want to say about everything. About everything!

Carolyn Norman 58:47

Yeah, no. I don't need you... Just no. And I don't need, I don't need free fabric. And I don't need buttons and I don't need trim. I don't need patterns. The people who really adore me-- shout out to Ginny Kashmeret. She understands that sometimes I need to say something, but that's okay. But no, I have nothing coming down the pike. 2020 is just.. I'm just sewing.

Lisa Woolfork 59:19

Well, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to have this great conversation. And I know you are incredibly busy. And I really appreciate your generosity of spirit to take.. and the generosity of your own schedule to take the time to have this conversation with me today. And so tell us where people can find you on the socials. I'll include all those links in the show notes.

Carolyn Norman 59:41

I only have two things: Instagram and my blog because I need to sew. And I can't be all in the socials if I'm sewing.

Lisa Woolfork 59:55

There is more truth to that. Absolutely. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for this wonderful conversation. And we'll be in touch.

Carolyn Norman 1:00:07

Okay, great. It was great talking to you.

(Music Plays)

Lisa Woolfork 1:00:19

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 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 PayPal, 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 p-i-n enamel lapel pin that's very cute. It's about two inches wide and one and a half inch tall, and it's of 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--no, not email-- if you send me your mailing address to my email either at BlackWomenStitch@gmail.com 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.

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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