Lisa Woolfork 0:10
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, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. And as I say every week, this is a very special episode because this episode is taking place on July 12, which is the day that Beyonce is starting her Renaissance tour here in the United States. And I have (I'm pretty sure) three people who are more excited about that shit than anything. Amen than everybody else, they are so excited that they have already made outfits to start on all y'all and we are giving you the opportunity to catch up. And so, if you are in a sad position like me, and you know you will not be going to the Renaissance tour, you can enjoy this episode and you can listen, and see all the wonderful fun things. And if you are a Patreon supporter, congratulations. While you're not, you can see me and my gorgeous crown, which is pretty much the closest I'm gonna get to Renaissance I believe this summer, but we are speaking with three fantastic creatives. And I am so grateful to introduce you all, Julian Creates, Carmen Green, and Terrence Williams. And together they represent something so powerful in the sewing community. They have done powerful work as individuals, they have changed culture, they have changed lives, they have made demands and held companies accountable even when it was uncomfortable. They take no BS from anyone and they step forward to create a space that is more loving, more inclusive and more in line with what it means to be a free people. And I thank you, Julian, I thank you, Carmen. I thank you Terrance for this powerful work, the three of them have also combined to create the black sewing network on Tik Tok and on Instagram. And as such, they have been doing live sewing for Beyonce's Renaissance tour and other places as well. So thank you so much. And welcome Julian, Carmen and Terence, thank you so much for being with us today.
Thanks for having us.
Thank you so much.
Lisa Woolfork 2:49
Y'all are incredible. So for real, for real. I was minding my own business. And, you know, I like to plan my content very far ahead, because I'm a nerd. And I also have a bit of anxiety, and it helps me to know that 'this is what I'm doing in July'. 'This is what I am doing in August'. But then, I saw this. And this is a picture of Carmen Green in Paris.--
Lisa Woolfork 3:15
--looking absolutely stunning. And I was like, Oh, this needs to be an episode like what? So, can you tell us? Where are you? What is your mood? And what was it like seeing the show in Paris?
First of all, thanks again, for having us, Lisa. But my first sort of thought and inclination about going to Paris was looking at what the tickets in the US costs. And I think all of us were experiencing the same level of anxiety about, number one being able to get the tickets, and number two, the cost of the ticket.--
Lisa Woolfork 3:46
And you know, going to Paris has always been a dream of mine for well over a decade. And, I was like, I'm a huge Jay Z fan, and not only Beyonce, but Jay Z. And as a lot of you may know, him and Kanye have a song called Negroes in Paris.
Lisa Woolfork 3:59
So I hit up my closest friends. And I was like, "let's see some Negroes in Paris". And everybody was like, "We're with it". Now. I was like, "What?" So, it was collectively six of us. Yes, six of us went to Paris, Julian, Terrance, myself went live on the first day of her tour in general, international tour. And, I knew then I was like, I'm not making something that everyone will see. So I did make something else. So I started out giving people ideas in origin, but I knew immediately I had to, like turn up in Paris. And I was like, I'm gonna use a costume pattern. So, that was my sort of thought. But Paris is amazing. That crowd could have been a little bit more exciting, but you know, it's fine. Me and my crew, we did it up where Beyonce and that was actually Blue Ivy, her inaugural performance as well. So it was just a very exciting time to be there in Paris. And you know, I just truly enjoyed myself.
Lisa Woolfork 4:46
It sounds really incredible. And I liked that you turned to costumes. And it's also funny, because as folks who are consummate creators, I feel as though you three give a lot of background, and a lot of detail about your work. So what made you turn to... (I'm looking at the picture now of your fabrics and the costume pattern itself). What are the elements that you were going for by using this costume pattern?
So initially, I was trying to avoid all show footage because I was like, Okay, I'm going to Beyonce. I'm gonna go there about two weeks after her tour, but I couldn't avoid it. And so I started seeing her costume that her dancer is now like, I want to look like I'm gonna be on stage. So I had this costume by guy for you know, McCall's? Yeah, well over a year, and I was like, you know, this might work. And, so that's what I decided to go with. So I use spandex through the majority of it spandex, like a metallic sort of stretch material. And under it, I saw this gorgeous embroidery embroider match. So I use that as a contrast and it just really popped people were asking me to take pictures left and right. I felt like Beyonce. So it was just, you know, incredible.
Lisa Woolfork 5:52
Now is this the same piece?
That's something different so that's something that I drafted or I started draping and working on when I was on live with Terrence and Julian, I wanted to sort of highlight Julian's Know Me pattern and Aaronica's Know Me pattern. I was like, you know, you think use existing pre-existing patterns that you have, and this site--
Lisa Woolfork 6:08
and sort of pimp it out. That is why I did this particular look to give people inspiration, but I knew I wasn't probably gonna.
Lisa Woolfork 6:16
Now, I'm excited because it looks like Terrance, you have on a Renaissance or Renaissance-friendly outfit right now. It is really beautiful. One of the things I love about your looks Terrance is that you really play to your strengths. And I really love the way that your shoulders are just so elegant. It just is such a remarkable job of enhancing your general poise. What are you thinking in terms of your look for Renaissance?
So, I worked on it on live with Carmen and Julian, it's actually a Butterick pattern that is a T-shirt that has this little cape, but I knew that I wanted to extend the shirt to a dress, and I wanted to extend the cape to be floor length. So, I just wanted all the sequins, all the drama, I just wanted everything there.
I can not wait. And one of the things I do appreciate is again, how the Black sewing network generates such powerful community.--
Lisa Woolfork 7:20
--Like, it really is such a wonderful thing to watch folks come together share ideas, be all in the comments, you know, fussing at each other or giving resources to each other--
Lisa Woolfork 7:30
--like, Oh, I got two of these. What size do you need? I think I might have a extra. You know, these are the kinds of things that I think community can do and community can create. And the funny thing about it is, I was laughing at the spring, because Blackstone network, when it comes to Beyonce, though, we're like a community divided. It's all in fun.
Lisa Woolfork 7:47
I have heard, I've heard of the heresy that you speak of. And we shall have none of it here.--
Call it what is, heresy, yep.--
Lisa Woolfork 7:54
--and nobody write me because you know me. I'll tell you the whole truth.
Listen, listen, there some things we gone do. And some things we gone not do--
Lisa Woolfork 8:03
Lisa Woolfork 8:03
Yeah, yeah. And so, so tell me about the division among the family. How did you all resolve that? Or do you just say, You know what, we can agree to disagree in love.
We haven't resolved it all.--
Lisa Woolfork 8:15
Could you say, is there any resolve fellas?--
We enjoyed the disagreement allows for commotion and allows for conversation.--
Lisa Woolfork 8:22
it allows for just friendly banter between everybody. I think there is just that mutual respect amongst the community. So either--
Lisa Woolfork 8:30
--You know how far to take it, we keep it on because it's all in love.
Lisa Woolfork 8:34
I think that we can all appreciate Black artistry at its finest and on different platforms. And basically in solely, that's what we're doing, we're practicing are all Black artists.--
Lisa Woolfork 8:44
So we are just kind of honing that creativity towards this one mark in terms of a artist who has been an epitomy of artistry for this generation, while honoring other generations as well. So,--
Lisa Woolfork 8:57
--that's just kind of, it allows for just a friendly banter and conversation, but also just kind of sharing of ideas, sharing of our own histories around music cause people share like, "I remember when this came out" and stuff like that and you're really--
--in more of intergenerational conversation.
Lisa Woolfork 9:21
The slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. And now we're bringing it to you in a new way. The Stitch is a newsletter from Black Women Stitch and I am delighted to tell you about it. What do you get when you sign up for the Black Women Stitch newsletter? You get to hear what's happening with Black Women Stitch the Stitch Please podcast, events that we've had, events that are coming up, contests for prizes, live shows, social media meetups, IRL meetups, episodes of the podcast that you might have missed, as well as opportunities to learn, and so in community with other Black makers across the country, and across the world. You will learn also about some actual stitches, we will help you get your stitch together with continuing education for your sewing life. Oh my goodness, y'all, I am so excited for this newsletter. It's always things I want to tell, you know, wow. Well, now we have the Stitch, sign up using the link in the show notes or on our website, we look forward to helping you get to a stitch together, soon.
It's really remarkable. I think when you think she's been in the industry for more than 25 years,--
Lisa Woolfork 10:42
So in some way, she has almost an entire lifetime of music. And so, it's even hard to determine like, it's not so much even generational because I feel as though she's constantly reinventing herself,--
Lisa Woolfork 10:55
--and that there's people who find her anew, like people who might have been, not so excited about Destiny's Child necessarily, I think Lemonade for lots of people was such a powerful turning. I gave a final exam in my Black women writer's class that was based on lyrics from Lemonade. The class was Black Women Writers 1950 to 2000. We read, you know, works by Zora Neale Hurston. Dorothy West, we read a lot of those early stories, Gwendolyn Brooks. And I was still able to take a line from Lemonade, and use it as a way to hook students, and they really enjoyed it so much that one of my students (I still have this email), she sent me an email, the title of the email was, "Professor, what are you going to say about me at my funeral now that you've killed me?"
Lisa Woolfork 11:47
I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it.
And I opened it up. And she was like, "This has been the best final exam I have ever had". And it was open book open note because I just want them to dig into their own deep understandings of the literature we've discussed, there are no like right answers beyond what you can kind of reasonably argue and prove. So I like to try to make cheap proof exams too, you know?--
Lisa Woolfork 12:10
So if Lemonade is the question, you really have to understand what I'm asking. And they did that and that really excited them. But I think too, that not everybody has to like everything.--
Lisa Woolfork 12:19
And that's okay, too. And that is just okay.
Lisa Woolfork 12:23
Now, I'm super excited about this, your shorts Julian, and I think especially the binding. I am a sucker for some bias binding, I tell you, I really think, for real for real. Bias binding is my love language. I mean, when I tell you, I have three boxes of homemade... (I don't buy it, I make it) and I make it dozens and dozens of yards because I like to use that continual bias method and just all of that, I love a bias tape. So tell me what we're looking at here.
So, currently in the picture, you are looking at the inside of the shorts (of making a short set) to wear to the Beyonce concert when I go to the location in Louisville, Kentucky. And, this is my first time working with like, lace and especially like a sequence lace. It is fitting because this is basically my first large musical concert. So, I was like she's coming close enough. I have to take this opportunity.
Lisa Woolfork 13:18
So with that I said we're going to go out and take this opportunity to do something new as well. So, using a pattern that I know that works well for me that is fitting my style, hits that classic menswear, but really allowing it to be a great canvas for some fun fabric. And this rainbow sequined lace is a fun fabric. And this bias really kind of covers all the edges so that there's nothing like really rubbed against my skin. And then I added satin for the hems as well as for the waistband. It will be matching with the shirt as well.
Lisa Woolfork 13:50
One of the things I was wondering was, What is it, do you think that makes people want to dress up for a Beyonce concert? Why don't you just go in the clothes you already have? You know what, first of all, she's not gonna see you, right? You're gonna be in the dark, you're gonna be far away. What is the point really the end of the day of spending your time and your energy to go, to dress up for a show? I am saying this as someone who is practicing being a great interviewer by saying ridiculous questions. But what would be the point, Terrence, you are a man of many talents and very little time, and yet you are taking your creative energies to create something spectacular. What is the motivation behind that?
Beyonce might see Terrance, actually. No, Terrance tell her where you sitting! Where are you sitting?
I'm in VIP.
Lisa Woolfork 14:44
Yes. Okay. So--
I think it's just the cultural significance. I think this concert and the Coachella, BChella concert, were just so different, like the cultural impact of that. Especially for BChella, it was celebrating everything Black, being proud to be Black, whether it was historically Black colleges, whether it was steppers, whether it was marching bands, so just to be able to celebrate that, and replicate those outfits, and I mean, the music comes from such a iconic album. I think it was really important specifically for Black people to show up and make our stuff because it was a celebration of us. And for Renaissance, I think it's really important because it's everything LGBTQ+ real celebrating us, specifically the Black people within that culture and the people of color within that culture. So it's really important for us to be like, okay, we have to show up because this whole Renaissance album is our, it's for us, it's our songs, it's our music, it's our dances, it's the bogans it's the fans, it's the handclaps, it's everything. So I think you would kind of be doing a disservice if you didn't put on a little sequin n' glitter and show out for her because truly is a celebration of our culture.
Lisa Woolfork 16:01
It's so beautiful. And what I appreciate about what you've described as a kind of mutual recognition. That you recognize that there is so much to be seen, and that this is a reflection. I just think that's such a powerful claim. Thank you so much for sharing that. Carmen, how about you? You made your dream come true to go to Paris, and you got to see someone you loved, and Beyonce, you've done all of this wonderful thing. You have another set of outfits I'm sure.
I'm working on that, I'm working on that, actually,I do plan to go domestically. I want to be around my folks. Like you know what I mean, like, the Parisians. It was cool. It was an experience. But I still need to be around my people.
Lisa Woolfork 16:35
Do you think it wasn't as hyped because of the language barrier? Or because of the cultural?
I thought about that, but I know Selena. I think music is the thing that binds us, regardless of like, if you go to Asia, some Asian countries, they may not know a lick a English, but they will be able to replicate or sing or blurt--
Lisa Woolfork 16:43
--out any American songs. So I don't think that's it. I think Parisians just are stush. And I just think that it's just the culture over there. And that's fine for them. But I know what kind of experience I want. And to Terrance's point, like the LGBTQIA+ community has such a huge influence on my style personality. And, I thought I was going to show up to a ball. And that's what I want. I wanted that experience for myself. So I'm like, no, you got to show up and show out, and I wanted to see more of that. So I think the US, I think we are going to do that. I'm prepared for that moment. Yeah, like that's what I thought I was coming to. I was like, we are a visitor to their sort of occasion and we need to rise to the occasion and such.
Lisa Woolfork 17:30
--so I've been making, my like, this is a former Beyonce outfit. You don't have to like know how to sew from scratch. You can do a lot of hats and upcycles or whatever, but I've been sewing my outfits for Beyonce's concerts probably since 2011, 2010? I've been to Atlanta one of them.--
Lisa Woolfork 17:45
Yeah, I actually went on Good Morning America and won tickets to her concert when she afterwards--
oh my gosh!--
I did yeah, that was the first actually full outfit I completed as a sewer many years ago. I have to send you a switch. I'll send you photos.--
Lisa Woolfork 17:57
But please do I would love to see that.--
Yeah, I showed up on Good Morning America in a bee costume to one [unclear]. I've been about this making custom Beyonce fit for well over a decade, like I'm a fan, fan, fan. So--
Lisa Woolfork 18:10
--listen...it's just like show up and show out, show up and show off a mother. Don't place her, even though we're the same age.
Lisa Woolfork 18:15
I love this idea, too, that ballroom culture is something that is specific to Black queer, Black trans folks. And that as Black cis identified folks like you and I, Carmen, we are being invited.--
Lisa Woolfork 18:31
And to respect that space. And you do that by being courteous and mindful. And the way that we tend to do that is to kind of honor the looks that are so spectacular, and so generative. This is an occasion.--
Lisa Woolfork 18:46
So you will dress for the occasion.--
Lisa Woolfork 18:48
You said it's gonna be one of your first concerts that you've been to tell me about that.
This is my first like, major concert love, a major music artists, ever at 36. I did not put effort into going to others. But this came close. And I was like, I really wanna go to this one. So, I made it happen. You know, this is gonna be a new experience. And I was really excited just about doing this new experience. As most of my friends know, I'm a homebody, I will stay at the house. So all my friends are like, shocked that I'm about to be outside for a little bit. But yeah, I'm excited. I've always been a fan of Beyonce. I'm one of those fans that go back to Destiny's Child 'Say My Name' and before, so, this is really exciting just to kind of go and experience it in person.
Lisa Woolfork 19:27
I mean, this is so fantastic.
Lisa Woolfork 19:32
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Lisa Woolfork 20:43
I just wondered if you could share a few sewing tips for sewing with some of the Renaissance-themed fabrics and I'm curious to see what you all just consider renaissance fabrics. I think that I've seen a lot of glitter, I've seen a lot of sheer lace, I seen a lot of stretch mesh. And for some folks, these fabrics could be a little challenging to sew with. Is this in line with how you see what a renaissance fabric might be. And what kind of tips would you offer for someone who might be working with these for the first time.
So, definitely from what we have seen thus far in this work, we have definitely seen a lot of designer couture pieces and really calling back to some very avant garde designers that we have not seen in a while such as Paco Rabanne, such as Koresh, you're gonna see a lot of your big sequins, your Piatt shiny, you are seeing a lot of your spandex and mesh but a lot of beading. So it mightn't be a fabric that you need to use. But think about your jewelry and your accessories. If you are wanting to pull that in. Do not think that you got to so fast, especially with the newer fabric if you're trying to make something, go slow. So that being said, planning does need to be a little bit involved here. Get to know your sewing machine and practice before you up here start to try to sew your main garment. It might not be your regular universal needle, you might need like a jersey or, (I love Microtex for some of these fabrics)--
Lisa Woolfork 22:01
--especially if you're using something that is metallic as well as stretch a Microtex needle might be really beneficial for you.--
--and if you're doing something with a bright fabric, you might want to not do something with a lot of desire. You might wanna do something simple. So, if there's a body suit or something like that, I'ma really allow that fabric to be the wow of it.
Lisa Woolfork 22:22
I love that, and Carmen, I'm gonna ask you the fear that stops me from sewing with sequins. How do you sew that gorgeous shirt n not pop your eye out? I'm convinced, I'ma be sewing, minda my business, and a sequin, I'll hit a sequin, it's gonna hit me in my already bad eye. And then that's gonna be it for me.
Wear goggles, wear goggles. Nah, I'm just--
Lisa Woolfork 22:41
Okay this okay, that's reasonable.That is a reasonable suggestion but you have on this great Members Only they have shirt that you upcycled, repurposed?
I did. I just took a sweatshirt and just added a sequence sleeve that's essentially all I did. And this is like, you can make this with your Cricut machine so doesn't have to be anything overly complex, like, focus on just getting the sleeve in, so this is something that you know, you don't have to make a garment from scratch! I've been seeing a lot of girlies, go to the thrift store or get some short and just add some trim.--
Lisa Woolfork 23:09
You can keep it simple. Add some trim to the bottom. You can do things like that, but definitely sequins and spandex. I saw a lot of it and I love it. I've loved it, always loved it. Get a lot of needles. Julian always says, Carmen, Buy needles in bulk for Huawei." You know just buy needles in bulk cause with sequins you are going to break it. That's just inevitable, and that's okay. Like Julian said, Just take your time. Have fun with it. I wouldn't say get a glue gun. Maybe pull out the glue. I know, I know. I'm just saying E6oo--
Glue is hot. You are outside for this concert, in summer.--
Yeah, so for my DIY girlies.--
Lisa Woolfork 23:43
Oh, that's a good point. Don't use heat activated glues, That's a good point.
Listen, all my experience, all my auntie sewers are gonna like, "Carmen, Why would you advise" I'm just saying like, in a crunch. If you have to like, dab it a little bit, have that on queue. Handsewing, you might have to do a little bit of handsweing as well. But yeah, definitely buy an excess of heavy-duty needles for your sequence project. Don't try to make it the night before, especially if you're gonna do--
Lisa Woolfork 24:07
--that lets you so a little bit slower. Now Terrance, we are now twins, and I think joining Julian because we have the same serger, and I'm wondering, did you use your new Bernina serger in constructing the work that you're making for Renaissance?
I did not because my outfit is all sequin so I was not about to destroy my $8,000 Bernina for Beyonce. I wasn't about to do it.--
We love you Be, but no.--
I love my Bernina, I really do, but I wasn't risking it.
Lisa Woolfork 24:41
So you put it on your standard machine, and you said we're gonna make the dream work.--
Yeah, I put it on my tried and true my brother Limited Edition Project Runway, and I used heavy duty needles because I do not have the patience to take off every sequence. I don't do that. That's the recommended method but... Listen, I go rogue just because--
Neither do I Terrance. Neither do I.--
I just pray. But yeah, you just invest in really good heavy-duty needles and just go slow and be patient and don't get frustrated when needles break because they are going to break. That's like the top advice I have for working with sequined fabric.
Lisa Woolfork 25:17
We're going to wrap up, and I'm going to ask you all the question I asked everybody at the close of the Stitch Please podcast and that is the slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. I'm going to start with Terrance in reverse alphabetical order. Terrance, what advice would you offer our listening audience today in the context of this beautiful tour launching here in the US? How would you help us get our stitch together?
I would say don't be afraid to be yourself. Step out of your comfort zone, do something a little out of the ordinary. This is your one chance to really go all out if you're going to the concert or even if you're just watching it on a live stream with your friends and getting all dressed up, whatever. This is the one time to celebrate you and celebrate your uniqueness and just be really proud of who you are. I'm so excited that I'm going to be going with my best friend and we're both getting dressed up and we just get to celebrate being ourselves and super gay. And I'm just really excited.
Lisa Woolfork 26:19
I love that. And you know, every time I hear the song Heated, I say to myself, this is Terence's favorite song. I think that song is called Heated parenthesis, Terrence Williams favorite song. I listen to this album almost every day. And every day, I say look is Heated Terrence Williams' favorite song. So I'm delighted that you're gonna be there. How about you, Carmen? What advice would you give, this is from someone who has already been and seen her in Paris, but to see her in the US, with an audience that feels a bit more like siblings and niblings. Talk a little bit about what advice would you give to help us get our stitch together,
Just do something that brings you joy. And that allows you to live in your like, happy place. Because when you're there, you're going to be enjoying, like living in the moment, experiencing her and just, you know, be comfortable, but at the same time, be fabulous. But at the same time, just embrace (like Terrance said) and embrace who you are, try something new, take the risk, because what you'll see is, you'll see a lot of that represented on stage, you'll see a lot of different people, and you'll see a lot of different figures and images represented, you're gonna see something on stage that isn't you. And so I just feel like you know, showing up as yourself living out loud, enjoying the moment, living in the moment, and just creating something out of that sort of sentiment will lend itself to you having the best experience of your life. You're going to enjoy the show. Just enjoy it.
Lisa Woolfork 27:43
I love that. And Julian, for your first concert, for someone who has sat out and said, "Nah, I'm good. I'm good. I got music at the house." You are now dressing up, I can see your shirt in the background. The shorts are looking amazing. And they're already done. What advice would you give to our listeners to help us get our stitch together?
I think if no other time but now you will have been given the permission to be extra. So be extra, have fun, literally concentrate yourself down to a essence and show up. That's the best way to think of it. We are in the summer of acceptance of ourselves. So I don't care if you got the summer body or straight up in winter. Come out, show out show scared, have fun.
Lisa Woolfork 28:27
I love it. I love it. And on that note, thank you so much to Julian Collins to Carmen Green, and Terrence Williams. We are so grateful for you all sharing your time with us today to talk about the kick-off day of Beyonce's Renaissance tour here in the US. Thank you. Thank you and thank you! Come back next week, y'all. We'll help you get your stitch together.
Lisa Woolfork 28:52
You've been listening to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you joining us this week and every week for stories that center Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. We invite you to join the Black Women Stitch Patreon community with giving levels beginning at $5 a month. Your contributions help us bring the Stitch Please podcast to you every week. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support, and come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.