Sewing FOR Grandma: The Bridgerton Ball

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Sarah Hill

Dr. Sarah Ashley Hill is a psychologist and lupus warrior who started sewing in 2019, after learning that she had a severe form of lupus nephritis. Having had a knack for fashion from a young age, Sarah has used sewing as an articulation of her style and to suit her current lifestyle.

Lisa Woolfork

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English, specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory and American slavery. She is the convener and founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. #Charlottesville. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.

Insights from this episode:

  • How Sarah got started in sewing
  • How diagnosis with lupus led to her sewing journey
  • Sarah’s lupus journey
  • Sarah’s pursuit of creativity
  • Sewing her grandma’s Bridgerton Ball

Quotes from the show:

  • “An artist has to create, so it wasn’t an option for me to not do something with this creative energy. Even if the body was breaking down, not creating, not finding beauty or making beauty was not an option” -Sarah Hill in “Stitch Please”
  • “It’s not going to kill me [lupus], or if it kills me, it’s gonna kill me doing what I am gonna do [sewing]” -Sarah Hill in “Stitch Please”
  • “What you can’t do and can’t control is your attitude, your outlook, the space in your heart, the vision that you have, and those who you’ve allowed to hold that vision with you and for you” -Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “We all get to claim our time, and we do not have to live by someone else’s calendar or somebody else’s clock” -Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “If you wanna do something, just go try it, and if you do not have the resources, there are plenty of organizations like sewing communities if you do not have a sewing machine” -Sarah Hill in “Stitch Please”

Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Sarah Hill

Instagram: Sarah Hill

Website: Sewing for Myself 

This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.

Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork  0:00  

It's Blacktober, and you are cordially invited to a Bridgerton ball. And if you'd like to see the gowns that we're discussing today, you can find them on the Black Women Stitch Patreon, and your support can help us reach our goal of 500 patrons by the end of 2022.

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. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. And as I say every week, this is a very special episode. Because this episode is with Dr. Sarah Hill, who is not only a therapist, and a new sewist joining the sewing community in 2019; she has done something I think that is so loving, and so beautiful, by taking her two grandmothers to the Bridgerton ball. And not only does she take them, which is of course a beautiful thing for a granddaughter to honor a grandmother this way, she made one of the grandmas, for whom it was the grandma's birthday, she made her a Bridgerton-era gown to wear to the Bridgerton ball. And so when I saw that, I was like, it feels like one of those, like, "man bites dog" stories. I have talked to so many folks - I'm including my own story that includes a grandmother who sewed, and sewed beautifully and sewed for us and sewed clothes when we were little, et cetera, et cetera. A lot of folks that I speak with have learned to sew, or have inherited sewing, from their grandma. It's not as often that I get to talk to people who have made things for their grandmother, that have made a gown that her grandmother wanted, to go to a cosplay ball for a Bridgerton. I mean, the story that I'm telling you feels so beautiful to me, but this is nothing compared to the actual gown or the look on her grandmother's face in these wonderful photos. And some of those photos will be included in the promotional materials for this episode, so you'll see photos throughout the week, and you can go back and check Instagram to see those photos. We will have some of Sarah's grandmother just glowing, and so happy in this beautiful gown. So welcome, Sarah Hill, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the program.

Sarah Hill  3:03  

Thank you for having me, it's such an honor. I could not believe that you would have little old me in here to talk about this.

Lisa Woolfork  3:11  

And there is no little old you. This is someone who is incredibly creative, who is busy doing it all, who is working, who is therapy-ing people and helping them live their best lives, who is parenting and wifing and doing all of these things. Maybe right now in the gap of this interview!

Sarah Hill  3:33  

Yes, the door accidentally didn't lock and the children came running in.

Lisa Woolfork  3:39  

Isn't it something. Like, sometimes I feel like if I get involved - not so much now, but when mine were that age - I would get involved with something and they would show up. But like, there would be other times I'm like, "I haven't seen you for days. But when I get on the phone, there you come. I'm like, where did you come from? Were you behind the couch this whole time?"

Sarah Hill  3:58  

Well, mine are little, so they're like constantly touching me at all times. So when I come into this office they're like, "Why? We would like to be inside of you please."

Lisa Woolfork  4:08  

Exactly. What are doors for? Doors are violence. Boundaries for that age, boundaries only work in one direction. When they put them up, they are meant to be maintained. When you put them up, they're cute. 

Sarah Hill  4:20  

Yes. What is that about? I said, "I would like a little space," and they said, "I want zero space."

Lisa Woolfork  4:24  

Exactly. You said a little; zero's a little.

Sarah Hill  4:28  

Anyway, back to sewing.

Lisa Woolfork  4:30  

Tell me how your sewing story begins. You said you started in sewing in 2019. Talk about what got you started with your sewing journey. 

Sarah Hill  4:41  

Absolutely. So, I mean, like a lot of sewists, I've been a creative my whole life. I think I came out the womb just wanting to do stuff. Color, paint, put things together, scrapbook; like, it's been in me since I was born. My husband said something really interesting the other day. We were talking about what it means to be an artist. And even though he's participated in art, he said, "I wouldn't consider myself an artist, because I don't have" - he doesn't consider himself an artist, because he doesn't have the compulsion to create. But when I can't create, it feels like something is missing. That made sense to me. And I think that was a really good kind of differentiation between somebody who maybe partakes in art, and then a person who was an artist. It was just there.

Lisa Woolfork  5:25  

Yes, yes. That compulsion is that kind of strong urge. It's not something you're ever forced to do, it's something that you kind of want to do. And if you don't do it, like, you know, like you said, something is missing, or like frustration might build or mount. And it's just like, Oh, my gosh, I'm tired of doing this. I want to do something else. What were some of your early projects? Do you remember what some - because I'm looking at this gorgeous gown behind you, and I'm like--

Sarah Hill  5:53  

Yeah, this is what I wore.

Lisa Woolfork  5:55  

I'm like, I know that's not the first thing you made. I know that is not the first thing you've ever made. Because if you did, we need to absolutely have a conversation.

Sarah Hill  6:02  

I think - so, pre-sewing, I think I got most of my creative energy out in dance, but I love fashion. So I would put funky things together just my whole life. My dad always says I've never matched a day in my life, but I always made it work. But my grandma who I ended up sewing the dress for, she had like a big, just, trunk of scarves. And I would just, like, take them and do things with them, and she lived with us growing up. So when I was diagnosed with lupus at the end of 2018, it went from "You have lupus" to "You have really severe lupus, and your life is going to change drastically in a matter of weeks." And so dancing was very quickly not an option.

Lisa Woolfork  6:44  

Would you mind sharing a little bit with our listeners about lupus? And if you don't feel comfortable, this is what show notes are for. And I can absolutely google it and put some links in the chat about it.

Sarah Hill  6:56  

Yes, I will talk about lupus until I’m blue in the face, but lupus is an autoimmune disease wherein your body attacks itself. And so, our bodies are amazing in that they have parts in them that fight disease, but in an autoimmune disease, it thinks that you, auto, are the disease, and so there will be a lot of inflammation and it will attack different parts. I have lupus nephritis, which means it attacks my kidneys. It also attacks my heart, my brain, and my muscles and my joints. But the worst part of it was when it started to attack my kidneys because that is how you die. That's when it will kill you.

Lisa Woolfork  7:31  

Right. And so you were saying that you had to - so you cut back on dancing, was that because of the pain in the joints? 

Sarah Hill  7:39  

I couldn't stand; everything in my life almost came to a sudden halt. So I was teaching, doing therapy. I was room mom for my kids' kindergarten class. I was the coordinator for my daughter's preschool class, active member of my community. Everything was taken away in like, one fell swoop, just like bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, right in a row. Couldn't walk, couldn't drive. I would lose my vision when it was impacting my brain, it would swell and I would not be able to see so I couldn't drive. And so it impacted my mobility the most, and very quickly. And then the treatments to save the kidneys really impacted my body in a horrible way. So for those people who have been on steroids, like prednisone, you might know the havoc that that can cause in your body, but it was horrible. So mobility got impacted really fast. Sometimes I would faint, passing out. So I thought to myself, I need to do something. And I have to be able to do it sitting down. And I don't know where sewing came from, but I was just like, I want to sew something. I want to sew something. And so I said it to my husband, and so it was no less than two weeks, he went to Amazon, it was for Mother's Day, and he got me a sewing machine. And he said, "If you want to sew, if that's what you got to do to cope with - sure. Whatever I can do to help you cope with this." One of the morals of my story is my husband is an absolute angel.

Lisa Woolfork  9:00  

Yes, that's beautiful. And I really love how - it seems very clear from what you're describing - the way that you can work together for mutual benefit and mutual good. You know, he wants you to be healthy and safe and happy. You want to have a healthy, safe family life. And just the whole, like, Mack truck of it all, like your life, like, being completely sideswiped by this huge overwhelming force that is also actually you. Actually your own body turning against you. And the frustration and terror that must come along with that. And for you to find the light at the end of the tunnel in a sewing machine.

Sarah Hill  9:47  

You got to! Because an artist has to create. So it wasn't an option for me to not do something with this creative energy, even if the body was breaking down. Not creating, not finding beauty or making beauty was not an option. My body very rapidly changed, I gained over 100 pounds in less than a year. So you can imagine how hard that is on the eyes to see, like, Who is this person? But also on the body, what it feels like. And then also, I don't know what to wear. I don't even know what size I am. My size is changing rapidly. But the option - there was no option to not create. And so I feel like that is the pull of the artist. It's like a shark who can't stop swimming, it dies or something like that. So I'm going to have to pivot. Like I refuse - it's not going to kill me. If it kills me, it'll kill me doing what I'm going to do. So it's not going to take me out doing nothing,

Lisa Woolfork  10:39  

You are going to continue to have your full life, and to extend your creativity that means so much to you, to be able to do that in a way - and I can imagine the idea of having something, in terms of sewing, that you have control over start to finish might feel nice. Can you say a little bit more about that?

Sarah Hill  11:00  

Yes, I think what you say is like very powerful, what you just said. Right before the sewing machine, I almost forgot about this, but this was a pivotal point in my lupus journey, was Christmas time, around that time. So I had been in it for about just a month and a half, but it had gone really quickly. And so, there was a lot of procedures happening. And I just had this mindset of like, when I'm done with lupus, like, things will get back to normal. And when I'm done with it, it'll be fine. You know, let me just knock this out real quick. And my husband had to sit down with me and gave me a book on grief. And he said, I want you - because I had to say I was going to have some like prayer time at the beginning of the year. And he was like, "I'd like you to ask God, ask, like, what do I do if God doesn't take away the lupus?" And I know that was a very hard thing for him to say, because I had this idea in my mind that lupus was a short-term thing. But he said, "I want you to consider what happens. Who are you? If the lupus doesn't go away? If God doesn't take it away tomorrow, then what?" And I felt like that shook me to my core. But it shifted my focus between trying to conquer lupus, trying to get to the end of it before I'd be okay again; and then it shifted it to like, well, what you're going to do in the meantime? Which is why I chose my handle, which is Me In the Meantime, because I decided I was going to sew. And I don't know, if - there is no cure for lupus. Maybe they will develop a cure in my lifetime, maybe they won't. Maybe I'll be in remission, maybe I won't. I'm not right now. So I don't want to be waiting until this like - who knows when it's going to come? Let me control what I can, and forget what I can't control, and create in the meantime. And I felt very self-conscious about my looks, and I said, "Let me just create what I can dress this body up in. Even if it doesn't look like how I think it should look, or how it's looked for several decades. I'm going to put this body in custom-made clothes and figure out how to sew for her. I don't know what size she is. So I'm going to just take her measurements, then." 

Lisa Woolfork  12:59  

That's right, because she is worthy of being sewed for. Because she is worthy. Because she is loved. She is loved. She is loved with extra 100 pounds, with minus 100 pounds,  and even the word extra suggests that apparently there's some size we're all supposed to weigh, which is also false. And so I really appreciate your Me In the Meantime as your IG handle, because really, in the meantime, that's all we have. Today. 

Sarah Hill  13:27  

That's all we have. Who knows what tomorrow's going to bring? You do not know. I'm in my 30s, so having conversations about mortality, and like, you say you can't have any more babies, like, all these conversations about finality and about, like, life expectancy, and will or will I not be dying soon, makes it like, well, you know what, like, nobody's promised tomorrow. And sure, I have a life-changing disease, but anybody, the most healthy person can walk outside and get hit by a car. Like, you never know. You really never know. So let me just leave it on the court now then.

Lisa Woolfork  14:03  

Hey, friends, hey. Stop on by the Black Women Stitch Patreon page and help us gain 200 new subscribers by the end of 2022. The Black Women Stitch Patreon page has been recalibrated to reflect three levels of giving with excellent benefits at each tier beginning at $5 a month. The Black Women Stitch Patreon includes benefits such as videos of the Stitch Please podcast, monthly stitch ups, direct and video messaging, a quarterly gift and more. So check out the Black Women Stitch Patreon and help us get 200 new subscribers by the end of 2022. The link to the Black Women Stitch Patreon page is in the show notes. Help us help you get your stitch together. And thank you.

 What I also find powerful about this narrative, it makes us think about ability and disability. And that the way that bodies tend to progress in age, and this is something that a colleague who's a disability scholar talks about, he says that everyone's going to end up disabled in some way, at some point, eventually. That is what time does. You are not going to die of healthiness. Like, you know, you're just not - that's not going to happen, you know? 

Sarah Hill  15:24  

You had too much energy and so you just lived to death.

Lisa Woolfork  15:25  

Yeah, exactly. You don't live to death. But what you can do, and can control, is your attitude, your outlook, your space in your heart, the vision that you have, and those who you allow to hold that vision with you and for you. I'm stumbling because I feel like my experiences, I'm pulling them from like, lots of different things, from books, from whatever. But, you know, we all have the one life. And what your experience so rapidly teaches us, and I appreciate your generous sharing, is that we all get to claim our time. And that we do not have to live by somebody else's calendar, or somebody else's clock. And I'm so glad that what I'm hearing in your story is that it was your pursuit of creativity that kind of fueled you to say, "You know what? Let's just keep going. I've got to wear clothes, and I don't want them to be ugly." 

Sarah Hill  16:31  

There we go. Yes. Yeah. 

Lisa Woolfork  16:32  

And because I can tell you, I'm looking at a dress you made from March 7th, and this thing is cute. It is a beautiful, yellow, two-piece, like, wrap sweater-type thing. It is really adorable. And it's amazing to me that you've just been sewing for what could be maybe three years? 

Sarah Hill  16:54  

Three years, yeah. 

Lisa Woolfork  16:55  

Like three years. Yeah. Hey, y'all. This is interesting. Sarah started sewing around the time that I started the podcast. So, that's serendipity for you. Look how well we're doing in an extremely short amount of time. Yay us. Yay us, Sarah, yay us. I want to pivot and talk about the generous sewing and costuming that you did for the Bridgerton ball for your grandmothers. But tell me about the Bridgerton ball: what made you want to go? What was the experience like, and how did you plan for an event like this?

Sarah Hill  17:31  

Sure. Yeah. So I think the same attitude that I was just talking about, about like, "Why not? Let's just do this," was kind of what made me think about the ball. I saw some, like, meme somewhere that said, artists have the audacity of seeing something and being like, I can do that. Why not?

Lisa Woolfork  17:49  

How dare they. How dare you see a beautiful gown and be like, Oh, yeah, I got that.

Sarah Hill  17:54  

Right. And why not? And so, my grandma loves Bridgerton. She loves all things romance. She's like many people, like we just have regular lives, right? You don't get to just go and, like, live this fancy life. That's not our story. And so - 

Lisa Woolfork  18:09  

But Shonda Rhimes made it our story. 

Sarah Hill  18:11  

Exactly.

Lisa Woolfork  18:12  

Right? That's what I love, that there's a Black grandmother who can look at the grandmother, or the Lady Danbury - there is a Dowager Countess Black woman. 

Sarah Hill  18:24  

Right. Right. So we loved Bridgerton, and we loved seeing us in that. And then she just liked the romance of it all. And so I watched it with her and then I saw, I think it was on Tik Tok, I saw like a video of this night and my first thought was, My grandma would love this. Oh my gosh, she would love this. Like, it felt like something that was like, we've never had an opportunity to go to a ball before, right? Like, that's never been there. Where has she had the opportunity? And then I was like, that's crazy. But she's 88. She can't go to a ball. And I was like, why not? I kind of showed it to her, I was like, "Is this, like, something you'd like to go to?" And she was like, "Oh my gosh, like, this is so amazing. That's so cool. I wish I could go to something like that." And then, I just was thinking about her health, which has been rapidly declining in the pandemic. I think a lot of our elders, not having, like, the ability to move and do the activities that were keeping them healthy, it really impacted them mentally and psychologically.

Lisa Woolfork  19:19  

As well as them getting together. I think that, you know, like, there's different senior centers, and exercise classes, and line dance classes, all of these things were taken away. All gone.

Sarah Hill  19:31  

Right. And so I think one of the ramifications is that, like, my grandparents, who were previously very active and very healthy, all of a sudden had their activity taken away. And so she's had a lot of physical limitations. So now she's walking with a cane, and all of this, and I thought, like, I don't know, this doesn't seem possible. And then a coworker of mine brought it up at a party, and she's an older woman, and I was like, I'm going to take my grandmother. I don't know; I don't know how. But I said, I'm going to take this 88-year old woman to this ball. And I'll make her a dress. And so I went and I asked my mom, because she's going to have to help me get her there, and I can't drive because of the lupus, so we're going to need some help. And me and my grandmother, between the two of us we ain't got a working kidney, so I knew we were going to need some help. And so I said, Mom, would you be willing? And she was like, Sure. And so I bought the ticket, and I called her. I really wish I would have taped when I told her. Oh my gosh, that's one of my biggest regrets. She lost it. She just started bawling. And she was just like, Are you for real? You know, like, she was in disbelief. And I said that I'll make you whatever kind of dress that you want. Anything that you want, I will figure it out. And so she was very excited, and decided to rewatch Bridgerton all the way through.

Lisa Woolfork  20:48  

Because she's got to get her look right. You know - but listen, listen, Sarah, for real. The first time she watched it was just for entertainment. The second time she watched it, she's studying, you know? And she's like, "Well, I liked the line on this particular one, but I'm not so sure about that color. And I'm going to talk to Sarah about it. Should we do tassels or no, because I'm unsure." 

Sarah Hill  21:10  

She knew exactly whatshe wanted. And I was very surprised, because I was thinking Lady Danbury vibes for her, the brocade and all of that. But she loved Daphne's dresses. She loved, like, the romance, the delicateness of it all. I think she didn't want to be like, pushy with me. But I could hear her voice, like when I would suggest other colors, she really wanted a Daphne dress. And so then when I started showing her Daphne colors, then you could hear the excitement, and I was like I got to make this a Daphne dress, and so then I started getting really into doing research.

Lisa Woolfork  21:42  

Oh my gosh. So you were trying to give her this kind of very stately, respectable - because Lady Danbury is the character who is a Dowager, which is someone who's a widow, but does not have any children, but also has a lot of money and social power because her husband is dead. So she's got all his money and properties, and she gets to live her own life. 

Sarah Hill  22:05  

And she's regal and powerful.

Lisa Woolfork  22:08  

Incredibly regal, and lots of brocades. Not very much fluff. Whereas Daphne, as a new bride, and as someone who's on the marriage market, or whatever, her clothes are very different. Lots of very, like, chiffon overlays, and beautiful flowers. 

Sarah Hill  22:25  

And always the blue, like robin's egg blue. 

Lisa Woolfork  22:28  

Robin's egg blue. And so - and again, the idea that your grandmother does not have to choose from a reality, because that reality was completely made up. If she wanted to dress like somebody else, you know, she could totally have. But that she reached out for that kind, the softness, the romance. I love that so much. And I could just imagine her not wanting to, like you said, be too pushy, and say, Well, that one's nice, or, I do like that. But then when you started to - and this just shows, too, what a generous listener you are. And I think that might come from your work as a therapist. Your job as a therapist is to listen to people. And so you can hear the hesitation in her voice, and you knew that meant something. And so you weren't going to just choose what might have been easier for you, like, you wanted to give her something that she wanted. And I think that that is the most beautiful part of a gift, is when you are giving somebody something that they want. Not what you want them to have. 

Sarah Hill  23:30  

If we think about our grandmas and like, what they've lived through, don't they deserve a ball? Like, don't they deserve to feel like a princess? In a frivolous, this has nothing to do with like a necessity or an award, it is literally - 

Lisa Woolfork  23:46  

It's not for your church. 

Sarah Hill  23:48  

Yes. Other than joy. That's it. And like, don't you deserve to feel, like - doesn't every woman deserve to have that experience?

Lisa Woolfork  23:55  

Especially Black women who have lived for 88 years in the United States of America. 

Sarah Hill  24:01  

Right? Raised kids here, grandkids... 

Lisa Woolfork  24:04  

Yes. My mother is close to that age. And these are people who went through formal segregation, who went through all the way through high school and college in segregated places. Could not drink out of a water fountain or try on clothes at a store. All of these are the rules of segregation that my mother lived through.

Sarah Hill  24:23  

Yeah. And never had a ball gown, right? Never got to wear a ball gown. 

Lisa Woolfork  24:28  

Right. 

Sarah Hill  24:28  

We're going to do it today then.

Lisa Woolfork  24:30  

Exactly. It's like, this ballgown is past due.

Sarah Hill  24:33  

Right. So maybe the wedding dress, you know, that can kind of be seen - but that's different.

Lisa Woolfork  24:38  

Yes. Oh of course, of course. I love what you've done here. Because you have really taken the beauty of your creativity, which you were using for therapeutic purposes, and you have done it to kind of give your grandmother this kind of unique gift that could not come from anybody else but you. And that is so beautiful and so generous. And I can see that in the photos, I can see that in her smile, I can see that in the dress. And y'all, I'm going to share photos with Patreon supporters, the Patreon supporters are going to get photos. You can also look at the images on @MeInTheMeantime, on Instagram. Is there one moment, or a particular highlight, that you remember from the ball that you'd like to share with us? Or was it so many it's hard to choose?

Sarah Hill  25:34  

Okay, so I think I want to pick one pre-ball, and one during the ball. I think as a creative, the ability to make this come to life, and that it was working, was, like, such a high. I've never made anything like this before. I had an idea in my mind. I didn't have, like, an exact pattern, but I knew I could pull from different patterns. And how I knew what vibe I wanted, I knew what vibe she wanted it to have. And so being able to make that come to life was like a really good high, that felt really good. 

Lisa Woolfork  26:07  

Oh, that sounds beautiful. 

Sarah Hill  26:08  

So that was the first part was like, Oh my gosh, I did it? Like, my audacity paid off this time? I'll take it! 

Lisa Woolfork  26:15  

Yes, I love it. And congratulations to you. And isn't that a beautiful rush? To feel like, oh my gosh, I did it. And then I'm like, What else can I do? 

Sarah Hill  26:25  

Exactly! Yes. What else am I capable of? I can make a whole gown. Why not?

Lisa Woolfork  26:29  

Why not? Might as well.

Sarah Hill  26:32  

My mom said something recently, cause she sewed, and I would ask her as a child, like, sew me this. And she'd be like, "No, I don't know how to do that. Like, no, I'm not going to do that." And I'd be like, "Why don't you sew me this?" And she's like, "No, Sarah." And then recently, she said, "I understand now. Because the distance in your mind between an idea, and like, just doing it is a very short distance." And she's like, "Do you realize that not everybody does that? Like, not everybody just thinks, like, of an idea and decides, I'm going to do it." And that helped me to understand like, why it wasn't, like, she was like, I don't want to do this. She's like, "I don't - how would I even..." And I was asking for complicated things, right? And so being able to - 

Lisa Woolfork  27:15  

"Make this from the Met Gala." 

Sarah Hill  27:17  

Yeah, exactly. And she was just, like, I don't know -- so I get it now. But that was a rush. Okay. And then in the ball, so many people kept complimenting her on her dress, which is just so, so precious. Everybody at the Bridgeton experience, it was exquisite. Like, it was absolutely exquisite. Every single employee and actor there was gracious and kind. And the atmosphere of all the attendees was beautiful. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:42  

Oh my gosh, that is so wonderful.

Sarah Hill  27:45  

I definitely almost lost it when they're doing this performance in the middle, and they're kind of mirroring the story of Bridgerton, but in, like, a lived-out ball, if that makes sense. And so at one point in time, they have these performers and somebody who's kind of, I think, a faux Simon and a faux Daphne, who are the two, like, main characters of season one. And they're having them like do some, like, romantic, like, acting-out, and there's acrobatics involved, and dance.

Lisa Woolfork  28:11  

Oh is that the suspension with the ropes? It was like, ribbon dance, or something? I don't know what that's called. What is that, aerial dance?

Sarah Hill  28:15  

I don't know. They used, like, some aerial things, they used a chandelier. It was amazing, right? My grandma really can't stand for like, the duration of that, so all of the workers were very, when they saw them, and saw that she had a cane, was like, Do you need some ADA help? You know, Americans with Disabilities Act? And so then they took my grandma, I didn't know where they took her. And I was like, she should be seeing this. And so I went to go look for her, for both of my grandmothers.

Lisa Woolfork  28:43  

ADA my grandmothers and took them off somewhere. No one's sticking grandma - we did not come here for you to sit my grandma in a corner. So off with you. 

Sarah Hill  28:54  

So I found them. They were sitting next to the Queen. They had put them in two little chairs next to the Queen. And so -

Lisa Woolfork  29:02  

Why do I have goosebumps right now?

Sarah Hill  29:06  

Right? So it was like a little court. And so the Queen was kind of back here, and there were a few chairs right here, and they put them right there. So they can see everything. I went over there, and I'm watching them watch this. And like - Joanne is my grandmother's name. She looked so happy because it was a very dramatic, like, moving dance and like, the whole - all the different pieces. And she had her little hands kind of doing this.

Lisa Woolfork  29:34  

It's like, she's sitting in Bridgerton in a gown that her granddaughter made to her specifications. What? Talk about somebody with a full heart. My heart is full and it didn't even happen to me.

Sarah Hill  29:46  

My heart was so full, and we got to bow before the Queen. One of my best friends, Kathy - I made Kathy's dress too, so you can maybe show some of her dress. Kathy is my ride or die, she's just amazing, but, you know, loves my grandparents too. So there's a video of like, you get to bow before the Queen individually, but she didn't want my grandmother to like, trip or anything. So she led her down the aisle, and, like, watching her, like, curtsy in front of the Queen was just like, so cool to watch her do. It was really nice.

Lisa Woolfork  30:15  

Oh my gosh, that is so beautiful. 

Sarah Hill  30:19  

It was really cool. 

Lisa Woolfork  30:21  

It sounds so magical. Now Sarah, I have to ask: this is a question that we asked everyone on the Stitch Please podcast. The slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. I am going to ask you, what advice do you have for our listeners to help us all get our stitch together?

Sarah Hill  30:40  

Okay, I've been thinking about it. Right? So she told me what the question was going to be. And I think that my advice is for you, sewists and creatives, to ask yourself a question. And that question would be, Why not? Why not? Why not have the audacity to just try? And it might look horrible, but it might not. And my dad used to say, "Ain't nothing to it but to do it." So if you want to do something, just go try it. Go try it. And if you don't have the resources, there are plenty of organizations like sewing communities, if you don't have a sewing machine, you can go practice on these things for inexpensive amounts. But if it's in you, you deserve to give that part of you who's thirsty for a drink of whatever she is thirsty for. So go do it. Why not.

Lisa Woolfork  31:31  

Wow. And on that wonderful note, Sarah Hill, thank you so much for speaking with us today. Now y'all, I'm wrapping this episode up right now, but we are going to do a bonus for Patreon only, where Sarah is going to show me and walk me through the dress that she has behind her right now on this dress form. So if you are a Patreon peep, you will see this part of the episode; and if you're not a Patreon peep, why not?

Sarah Hill  32:02  

I won't show on my Instagram. So I'll show the other dresses, but this one we will save for just this Patreon podcast.

Lisa Woolfork  32:09  

Listen, listen. Alright y'all, so I'm going to stop recording here and start recording next for the Patreon clip. 

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.

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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