Sewing Spaces: Syreeta Price

The Stitch Please podcast will celebrate its 100th episode on  9/15/2021. As part of that effort, we are looking to add 100 additional  Black Women Stitch Patreon supporters by the 100th Stitch Please podcast episode publication date. These funds will be used to build financial stability for the podcast while alleviating the pressure of a solo operation.  Will you join us? For as little as $2 a month, you can help Lisa hire consistent editorial and production support. We are 24 Patrons away from the 100 mark! Thank you to our new supporters: Amy, Greta, Erin, Marsha, Aarthi, Tanita, Allison, Natalie, Shermaine, Shanna, Syreeta, Beth, Marie, Cassie, Lotta, Kathlene, Cheryl, Jennifer, Liz, Deborah, Valerie, Kathleen, Rashida, Aleen, Jeanne, Grace, Megan, Kathleen, Paul and Ebony. Thank you!  

Find out more about Syreeta Price.

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Website/Blog

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Lisa Woolfork 0:15

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

Lisa Woolfork 0:37

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. I am your host, Lisa Woolfork, and I am happy and delighted, as always, to introduce another amazing guest to you today. That's Syreeta Price. She is going to talk with us today about her sewing space. The Sewing Spaces series is something I'm really excited about because there are so many ways to do it that there's no one right way. When we think about our sewing in general, all of us are as different as our sewing styles. We are different. You can put 100 Black women that sew together, and we will all come up with something different, right? And so there's no one way to erect the sewing space, to design a sewing space. What all of us need to flourish is something that only we know within our own hearts and with our own minds. And so Syreeta is an exciting example for me because her work is exquisite. She is patient, she is thorough, and she creates some absolutely amazingly fitted garments. I want to reiterate that because sometimes I feel like with sewing--I'm not sure if this is because of the age in which we're in, where it seems to just be, like, produce, produce, produce; make, make, make; make something every day; make something to wear every day. It's just constant, constant production. There's not enough, I think, praise given to the slow, sustaining, careful process. It might not be flashy. It might not be, look, I made my entire wardrobe for this quarter. You know what I mean? It might not be that, but what you do make is going to fit your body and nobody else's. And that is the kind of work that Sarita does. I have just been so obsessed with her style, with her approach. And y'all, she made a sports bra that is supportive and beautiful. And did it close in the front?

Syreeta 3:08

Yes, it does; it closes in the front. It's shocking.

Lisa Woolfork 3:09

Y'all, if you can find a sports bra that can support some substantial tatas, not the ones that can support the golf ball size, but the ones that can support two grapefruits and let you run and jump up and down and not slap yourself in the chin, you are doing well. And this is what Syreeta has done. Welcome Syreeta, welcome so much to the program. I'm so glad you're here.

Syreeta 3:18

I'm super excited to be here.

Lisa Woolfork 3:41

This is excellent. I also have to mention that Syreeta is the second University of Virginia alumna that I have spoken to on the podcast this year. How does that happen? So when were you at UVA? Because I've been here since 2000. Did we ever overlap?

Syreeta 3:58

We had to overlap. I was there 2000 to 2004.

Lisa Woolfork 4:02

My goodness. I am trying not to have my feelings hurt because I recently spoke with Reka Barton. She's the Scholarly Sewist. She's in graduate school now out in California, and she went to UVA.

Syreeta 4:14

Wasn't she in the architecture school?

Lisa Woolfork 4:16

She was in the ed school.

Syreeta 4:18

Ed school . . . I feel like I heard that name.

Lisa Woolfork 4:21

See, y'all found each other. But no one managed to find me; thanks a lot. I'm not going to take it personally. But I'm so glad to be in community with you now. Thank you so much for being here. Can you talk a bit about your definition of what an ideal sewing space needs?

Syreeta 4:38

So for me, an ideal sewing space is a frictionless environment. I do not believe in suffering for my art. I will not have it; I will not do it. So we are going to make it as comfortable and convenient as possible. Things need to be at my fingertips. When I'm sitting or standing at my cutting table, there's no back pain. I can stand on a nice soft surface. There's no knee pain. It has to be easy. So that's kind of all the things that I keep in mind when I'm trying to organize my space, how I set it up. There are different stations for each of the different points of the sewing process.

Lisa Woolfork 5:16

Wonderful. So what I hear you saying is that this is about ergonomics. It's that you want to make sure that you have comfort and ease when you are engaged in your sewing practice. Has your space always been that way for you? Or have there been some profound changes? Like how did it start? What was the beginning like?

Syreeta 5:35

Oh, gosh, it started with a sewing machine I bought off of Amazon. It was like that basic Brother one. And I had one of those leaning desks that leaned against the wall and had a little shelf that came out, and it was just enough space to fit my Brother sewing machine. But the desk was really low, and as a tall person having to crouch down and tucker down to sew was a little inconvenient. So I was, like, kind of [demonstrating].

Lisa Woolfork 6:02

Your back was curved?

Syreeta 6:02

Yeah, because my chair--it wasn't even a rolling chair at that point. It was just a regular chair. So there's literally no place to even go any lower. And then I also started cutting on the floor. That lasted one project, and then I was, like, we have to do something. And at the time, I wouldn't say that I was eager to spend a lot of money because this was early on in my sewing process. I didn't know if it was really going to be a long-term type thing. So my first solution to the cutting situation was whenever I wanted to sew, I would pull out the console table in my living room, I would put four bed risers on it, and then I purchased from the hardware store a giant piece of plywood, which weighed about 35 pounds. And every time I wanted to sew, I'd pull that plywood out, put it on top of the bed risers on top of my console, and then, very gently because it was kind of precarious, cut on that table. And it worked for a while; for about a year and a half I was able to handle that. And then eventually that became too much as well.

Lisa Woolfork 6:30

35 pounds--an arm and shoulder workout.

Syreeta 7:14

Yes.

Lisa Woolfork 7:16

To lift out that 35-pound plywood tabletop.

Syreeta 7:20

That was intense. I didn't know any better. I thought you want a piece of wood that's not going to bend, so you wanted to get--I think it was like an inch thick. And it was a good 48 x 36 wide because I didn't want it to be too big.

Lisa Woolfork 7:35

How did you get that into your apartment?

Syreeta 7:36

A dolly. I rented a Zipcar to go to the lumberyard and had it cut, put it into the car. I had the doorman help me get it out of the car and eventually got it up. And then at one point it wasn't long enough for my needs because I was having really long pieces as I started to do more pants and more longer things. I needed a longer table. So I went back to that lumberyard, bought the same thickness of plywood, bought some hinges, and attached the hinge at the end. So it would flip up and down. It was the most; it was doing the most.

Lisa Woolfork 8:11

That is very impressive though. I love the way that we as sewers have; we will find creative ways to do what we want to do joyfully. I think when you said you wanted to be frictionless, I was like, yes. You want to go from one thing to another; you want to be able to easily move without . . . And I remember--I don't have to remember--I have been cutting on the floor up until last year. I've been sewing for more than 20 years. I just started standing to cut a year ago. A year ago, everything else was pretty much--if it was big, if it was small, I could cut it on a cutting table that was on top of my ironing board. It was narrow and I could cut on top of the ironing board. But it was limited. It only went one yard one way and then two feet the other way. And if it was one of those weird pieces that were like, sideways, weird shapes, I had to put it on the floor. So I would just lay out like seven yards of stuff on the floor, put the pattern pieces down, and just see. Then I would get a pillow for my knees. And I was, like, I made a wish. I essentially made a wish that somebody would make me. What I really wish was: here are the plans for a cutting table that a fabric company had put out. It was a pattern company: Closet Core.

Syreeta 8:13

Oh, yeah. I remember.

Lisa Woolfork 8:36

I wish somebody would make this table. I want this table. And actually what I really want is someone to just make it for me. So I put this out on Facebook. And someone was, like, oh, my husband likes to do stuff like that. He'll make it for you. He totally did.

Syreeta 9:57

Oh, my god. That's amazing.

Lisa Woolfork 10:00

Yes, yes. And so that's why for the first time in more than 20 years, I can now cut and stand at the same time.

Syreeta 10:06

That is a beautiful thing.

Lisa Woolfork 10:08

It's a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful thing. But you got smart faster than I did. You said that you could not do it beyond that first one. What happened? Were your back and knees just hurting too much? What made you think that this floor is the pits?

Syreeta 10:22

Just because it was on the floor. Like, I was not about that crawling around on the floor life. That just was not . . . Again, I don't have a ton of space--and my apartment was different then--but trying to navigate the furniture, trying to lay out the fabric, keep on grain--because these are all important things, right? And just the one little project that was enough to see this is for the birds. No, we're not having it. But to your point about building something or having something made, like I said that heavy plywood top, lifting it out every time I wanted to sew wasn't really a long-term solution either. So I literally drew up plans. And it was a beautiful piece that I drew up. It had a cabinet. It was a floor-to-ceiling piece with bookcases, slots for my sewing machine, slots for the long rolls of muslin and everything else, and then the piece de resistance was going to be a piece of art over the front of it that would fold down into a table. So I literally drew this all out. And honestly, Lisa, if I had had a she shed and lived in Alabama or Virginia or wherever where I had space for all these things, I would have built in myself, but I don't. So I actually went to a couple of cabinet makers who are in the New York City area and got quotes. The cheapest quote I got, with no bells and whistles, just basically here's some plywood in the format you've requested, was about $3,500. I know! The one that I really liked, of course, was the guy who quoted me $7,000 for it, who was, like, oh, yeah, we could totally do that. Honestly, that's the dream. Of course, these are quotes that were not in my budget. I was like, I don't really want to spend all that. My parents came to visit a little bit after that, and I was still in this, maybe if I just start saving now, I can get it done a couple years from now. But I don't want to wait a couple years, right? Explaining this to my mom, she's like, what can you do in the meantime? Because I'm not going to keep doing this. And basically, I just need something like the size of my door that folds up and down against the wall. And she says, why don't you do that? And so I did. I don't know if you can see behind me?

Lisa Woolfork 11:13

Yes.

Syreeta 11:17

That's my--that's the door. It's my sewing table. I can show you how it folds down if you like.

Lisa Woolfork 12:34

Show us, show us, show us! Y'all should be a Patreon supporter because you get to see this. Oh my gosh.

Syreeta 12:43

Two hinges. This whole piece that you see right here is the door. I have it on a little hook that folds up and then it just folds down. And so it has on the--Let me see if I can switch this around now. Okay, so on the table, I have two cutting mats. I can sew, cut, and organize on three different sides. This is my cutting table. It's at my hip height, so I don't have to bend. I can reach all the way across without having any sort of back issues. And what's also nice, this also serves as a pressing station. So underneath the mats, I have some aluminum. And because, to your point earlier, ironing boards are really small, I made an ironing mat that covers the entire thing. So now I can press yardage of fabric. And the reason I have the aluminum here is because it prevents heat transfer, so I can put it on top of my rotary cutters on top of the wooden door and no damage is done.

Lisa Woolfork 13:46

And they won't warp.

Syreeta 13:47

And it doesn't warp. So, yeah, that's how that kind of works there.

Lisa Woolfork 13:51

This is genius. You have your rulers and rotary.

Syreeta 13:54

Yes. Those are hanging right there. Those are the ones I use the most in this area. I have a bunch of other rulers elsewhere. But yeah, that's how that works.

Lisa Woolfork 14:04

This is amazing. This is absolutely amazing. I am so glad that I got to see that because I was feeling kind of sad when you were describing before how you were, like, I don't want to spend . . . $3,500 seems like a lot just for the basic version and then the $7k. Wow. But then are you satisfied with what you did?

Syreeta 14:26

Yeah. I thought this would be the interim solution, but it has worked out. So it's literally a door. I used to have a highlight on Insta, but they deleted it, but it was like $80 to do that. The door was the most expensive part. It was like $36, $37, I think, and then I had to buy a little bit of wood, a 2 x 2, and cut it to the length legs I needed. And then the hinges, those are like another $15 or so. Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 14:53

A wall-mounted, store-away--

Syreeta 14:57

Cutting table. And I'm just waiting; I have some art that I've picked out, and I'm waiting for the woman to put the pieces back up again. And then they'll just look like a wall. So when it folds up, there'll be like three pieces of art along it, and then it'll pull down when I need it.

Lisa Woolfork 14:53

Y'all are going to want to see this. This is worth the Patreon money. Right here. Again, it's been worth the Patreon money because all I'm asking is about $2 a month, but y'all will want to see what Syreeta has made in her house for $80 that if somebody was selling it would be thousands.

Syreeta 15:29

So convenient.

Lisa Woolfork 15:35

It's incredible. So you fixed your cutting issues, so you're not crawling around on the floor and getting hip issues or knee issues or anything like that. Tell me about--as you were turning, I saw your little cutting tool station. So how do you organize your notions? I tend to hang things on the walls; I have a lot of space, so I can do that. How do you convert your notion storage to be what you want it to be in your space?

Syreeta 16:03

The notions will vary. There are like general sewing notions that I want at my fingertips. The ones I use all the time are the ones that are here. I have a little IKEA headboard; I will always be held hostage by this because they are the only ones that make the accessories for it. I would recommend a regular pegboard in the future. But anyway, I have my sewing notions; my scissors, rather; all of my tape measures; my wonder clips; some pattern weights; pins; and taping.

Lisa Woolfork 16:34

Pattern weights that you make as well, Syreeta?

Syreeta 16:36

Oh, yeah, these are mine. These are my favorite ones.

Lisa Woolfork 16:39

She makes pattern weights as well. And that is lovely.

Syreeta 16:43

Yeah. And so I also have this IKEA ALEX drawer unit. And they're organized by type. So I have more pattern weights; all these different rulers and curves; more of the specialty stuff; pattern adjustment things--marking paper, graphite paper, construction paper, etc. Then in the second drawer, I have more things that I use in different bins of different sizes, so needles and sewing needles and thin needles, lots of additional cutting scissors, utensils I don't use as often, and then marking tools, like little rulers and things like that.

Lisa Woolfork 17:20

I have that same little Nancy Zieman slide thing. Isn't that amazing?

Syreeta 17:24

Oh, it's wonderful. I use it all the time. And then I have all the thread in the entire universe. One can never have too much thread. And then, oh, this one here is like pressing stuff. So all my little--

Lisa Woolfork 17:37

Gosh, a pressing ham and your clappers in that drawer? I didn't know it was so deep.

Syreeta 17:45

The bottom three are a little deeper, so you can actually put something a little bigger.

Lisa Woolfork 17:50

I feel like I'm visiting my own house. It's like we're related. I'm like, oh, I have that table. I have this, I have that.

Syreeta 17:55

Yeah. So it's just convenient because I sew right at my desk, and my desk actually is IKEA as well. But it's a standing desk that you can roll up and down.

Lisa Woolfork 18:07

I have that same one. My husband put it together for me. Another friend had it. I saw it at her office and she was, like, if I were to do it again--she had the electric one that you press the button--I would get the crank because if the unit goes out or electricity. Good note, and so I have the same one that you have.

Syreeta 18:29

That's great.

Lisa Woolfork 18:31

Excellent. So let's transition to talk about the patterns because I know you have been working very hard and you recently did an inventory and learned that you have about . . . 300? 400?

Syreeta 18:46

Yeah, 300-plus paper patterns.

Lisa Woolfork 18:48

Don't feel bad because I have 1,000.

Syreeta 18:51

Whoo. Okay.

Lisa Woolfork 18:53

1,000. And I might sell about 20.

Syreeta 18:55

Yeah, pretty much the same.

Lisa Woolfork 18:58

For the last 20 years, same one, so no judgment. But you don't want your 300 patterns. Tell me about your relationship right now to your printed patterns: the commercial ones that you've bought in envelopes, as well as the ones that you've printed out from PDF. How are you managing that paper?

Syreeta 19:19

How am I managing? First of all, I realized I had way too many of them, and I wanted to start to tone it down a bit. In terms of how I got them, I live in--A side note: I live in New York so there's no Jo-Ann's nearby, but as I started sewing, my mom really wanted to support my new habit because that's how I learned to sew, from her. She would always be like, oh, I'm going to Jo-Ann's and they're having a sale. Do you want anything? And I was, like, yes. I would go online and my mom would send me sewing care packages full of patterns. And they piled up quickly. Eventually I realized I had so many I didn't know what I had when I started buying duplicates. So I created an Excel spreadsheet and every time I got new patterns, I'd list them there. It just became too much. I've been trying to downsize in my apartment just because I feel like, you know, in these pandemic times, being trapped here all the time means that I want more space and need to feel lighter. And the giant, giant bin of 300-plus patterns was just weighing on me. And I can never find anything. I would pull it out, and it'd be so packed, I would pull one out and 20 would go [noise of scattering]. Not a good feeling. And so, I think a week or so ago, I decided, okay, now's the time to purge patterns. And I was honestly dreading it, but it was not as bad as I thought it would be because, I think, as you mature as a sewist, you know more about your style and about how you want to sew. And maybe you don't need the basic pattern of how to make a pencil skirt, right? I don't need that anymore; I can let it go. Or like I have two dresses, they have the exact same bodice and skirt, but a different sleeve. I can draw up the sleeve; I don't need both. Pick one, move on. So I went through all of them and made sure that it either fit my style going forward, it had a technique or some sort of special thing that I hadn't tried before or a style I wanted to try. It had to fit because sizes shift over time, right? And if I know that it's a single size pattern and I'm not the size anymore and I don't want to grade it, then good-bye. And then some of them are just sentimental, like I had spent a long time looking for the--There's a Burberry trench McCall's pattern that's basically a knockoff; I'm never letting this one go. I don't know if I'm going to make a trench coat, if it's even my style, but I'm still keeping it. So once I did all that I was able to use those lenses to pare it down, I think at least by half. I couldn't count because I thought if I counted and I added up the math of how much money I wasted on patterns I'm never going to sew, I would not have been able to handle it like a mature adult that I am. So I just didn't; I haven't counted yet exactly how many have left, but I was able to downsize from a huge bin to about half the size.

Lisa Woolfork 22:09

That's amazing, and what I love about what you're describing to us is that creating a perfect sewing space is the result of a process. And that you found you try something, and then you're like, oh, this doesn't work or I don't like it this way, so I'm not going to cut on the floor anymore. And I'm not going to pay between $3,500 and $7,000 for my masterpiece design table because I can find an interim solution that actually can let me spend more money on the art on the outside of my new fold-down table. It also can inspire a process, right? I just really love the way that you have thought to ask questions about ways to make your sewing life, in your word, frictionless. You were feeling heavy and weighed down by all the patterns that you knew you weren't going to sew. You know, for me, I purged fabric because I had a whole unit.

Syreeta 23:11

I have to do that next.

Lisa Woolfork 23:12

I had a whole unit of fabric and I was, like, this stuff has been here and it need not be, and I would rather have the space than look at the stuff. You know, because then it starts to get loaded with all--like you were saying: I don't want to count how many patterns I'm giving away because then I have to look at and think about that money. Don't even think about that. Because I'm, like, you know what, artists get it and I'm not saving money by keeping it. Like, that stuff's already done and it's been amortized over the many years it's been sitting there collecting dust. So you said that fabric is going to be your next step. But do you do a lot of PDF pattern sewing? What I'm working with is that I do a lot of Big Four patterns and I've got about 1,000 of those. And then I started with the PDFs, but because I have, as I say, a medical condition that prevents me from taping patterns because taping patterns reduces my will to live. So I cannot take PDF patterns at all, like I just cannot; it's a medical issue. I don't want to endanger myself, so I only get the AO PDFs. And so I have two little trash bins from a surplus store and I just roll them like architect blueprints. They're all like stuck in there, in a corner, and there's only so many that can fit in there, so you have to decide: are you going to actually sew this, or should you give this to somebody else who could use it? How do you manage your PDFs?

Syreeta 23:56

I do not have that medical condition. I actually find it very satisfying to tape patterns together because often I see it--

Lisa Woolfork 25:00

Unless we live closer to each other, so you tape all my patterns together, but then if I live close to you, I would not have 1,000 PDFs.

Syreeta 25:09

But I also feel like it's one of the things that you can do when you assemble a pattern, like when I don't really feel like sewing, like I don't really feel like cutting. It's a part of the process that gets me closer to creating, so I find it satisfying in that regard. Also, I don't have space to store AO patterns. The thing I like about PDFs is that you can cut them up and then, oh, I messed up, I'll just print again. I think that's because I always have to make so many changes to fit my body, I can never really cut the tissue straight out, if I want to be able to go back to it if I, you know, make a mistake or I want to try something different. So I'm constantly tracing the tissue paper, but then I could just cut a reprint with the PDF, so I really like that. But in terms of storage, I'm very quick to throw things out if it's not working. Like, you know what, I don't want this one, I can throw it away. I can reprint it. Unless it's a PDF pattern that becomes one of those tried and true type patterns for me, I kind of throw it away when I'm done.

Lisa Woolfork 26:11

Wow, that's amazing. So you . . . Wow. Yes, okay. And so you don't mind, like--Once you've taped up the pattern, you don't just roll it up and try to put it somewhere? You're just, I'll trace it, make my pattern, sew the thing, like it, wear it, I'm done with it.

Syreeta 26:30

Yeah, there aren't that many that I repeat sew because I think my favorite part of sewing is fitting. I love the puzzle of it. I love the challenge of it. And so oftentimes, unless I just really need a T-shirt right now, I will take the pattern not tried versus the one I've done before, just to keep myself interested and learning.

Lisa Woolfork 26:51

Yes, so we talked about your patterns, talked about the cutting. I would love to hear about your approach to sewing machines and sergers in terms of the hardware, in terms of the things that we need to sew: the sewing machine, the serger, or an overlocker, since you just got a new overlocker? How do you deal with and manage machine storage in your space?

Syreeta 27:15

My machines actually sit out most of the time. It makes me happy to look at them; it makes me happy to think, oh, I could be sewing in five minutes. But when people come by and I need space for things . . . Let me switch around again. So this desk that's empty right now, that's where I keep my main machine. And it just sits there; it's easy to access. I can turn it on and add a hem or whatever really quickly. Then for my serger, I have a baby lock that sits to my left, so I can easily sew on my sewing machine, turn to my left, do my serger. I will say I highly recommend these Sew Steady tables; they have changed my life.

Lisa Woolfork 27:54

Let me ask you a question about your Sew Steady table. So you are sewing in a small space and yet, you find it helpful to have an extension table for your serger. Tell me why.

Syreeta 28:07

I find because a lot of times when you're sewing, especially using pins or wonder clips or whatever, the weight of the fabric can pull it out of place, and it's really annoying if you have a very shifty type fabric. So what I find is having an extension table allows the fabric to rest and not pull on itself, and I get a better result when I'm sewing. And I find that with my serger and with my sewing machine. Even though I do have a small space, I try to store them in convenient places, so my sewing machine table actually just slides into this little slot here. When I'm ready to sew, I just pull it out and go. The serger one I use quite a lot. And then my last machine is my coverlock. I don't necessarily need it for that so much, but I do have an extension table for that one as well. But the only ones that get stored away really are my serger and my coverstitch, and they go in this little cabinet here. There's a space at the bottom.

Lisa Woolfork 29:05

Is your iron in there as well?

Syreeta 29:06

Yeah, my iron is in there as well. I just bought a new coverstitch; that one I have to sell right there. But yeah, this is where more notions go.

Lisa Woolfork 29:13

Great. Oh, I see that you have that thread catcher I saw on one of your Lives that you used. That's the one that I have, but I find that sometimes--I don't know if I'm just not putting it in the right place--but I still think this stuff kind of goes everywhere.

Syreeta 29:27

It does. It's annoying.

Lisa Woolfork 29:28

I would much rather have and that's what I'm going to get the one--

Syreeta 29:31

Yes, I love that one.

Lisa Woolfork 29:32

Maybe I'll get a purple one. Maybe she'll give me a purple dinosaur to go with it.

Syreeta 29:35

Yeah, she has different colors apparently.

Lisa Woolfork 29:39

This is so wonderful. This is so--

Syreeta 29:40

That's how my sewing machines go. Ideally, I would like to eventually get rid of that black cabinet and store everything. I have a storage ottoman that stores fabric scraps right now, but I would like to get my pennies in there instead. But baby steps; we have to go day by day.

Lisa Woolfork 29:55

You have been doing a wonderful job and that's one of the reasons I was so excited to speak with you because I know you have been working on your space and going through things and connecting the ways that our stuff also connects to our feelings and our emotions. And so if you're in the room and it's cluttered, and you're thinking, oh, this makes me feel heavy, let me get rid of this stuff and have more space. Then you feel lighter?

Syreeta 30:19

Yeah, it makes it easier to create.

Lisa Woolfork 30:22

It makes it easier to create. I love that because you have made that space for yourself. So what are some of the big challenges you anticipate about the fabric purge? What's going to be required for that? Because that is the thing that I know that I struggle with.

Syreeta 30:36

I've been on a fabric buying ban. This is year two, really, for buying fabric.

Lisa Woolfork 30:42

Really? You have not bought fabric for two years?

Syreeta 30:42

Only for specific projects and if I don't have what I need. Those are the only exceptions. So if I was making a coat and I didn't have a lining, I was allowed to go buy lining. Or if I didn't have enough in any of my coatings, I could go buy a coating, but nothing, just impulse buying. And the reason for that is there was a time a few years ago in New York where, literally, Garment District stores were going out of business every other day. And of course, I had to go to the going out of business sale. I would come back with giant IKEA bags full of fabric that would eventually just start piling up. There was one day I opened my bathroom closet and I was, like, why is there fabric in here? Like I was running out of places to store it. And actually that is what prompted me to buy my wall unit, so I could have a place to actually put all my fabrics. Let me show you that right now. So the wall unit. This is in my bedroom at the foot of my bed. It's three IKEA cabinets, floor to ceiling, with doors. The doors used to be glass, but I didn't like seeing the stuff behind the glass so I covered them with a wallpaper kind of thing. So all the fabric I have, which at one point I folded them all up and I have over 300 pieces of fabric, not yards.

Lisa Woolfork 32:01

That's beautiful.

Syreeta 32:03

This just has my wovens; these are all of my wovens. And what I did was I bought these magazine boards they use for comic books and the like. I wrapped all my fabrics, cut the size, and each fabric--

Lisa Woolfork 32:14

There's a card in there.

Syreeta 32:16

Yes, each has a little tag that says what type it is, the width, the yardage, if I washed it, and when I bought it. Yeah, it's great.

Lisa Woolfork 32:24

So did you go to the one in Manhattan? You must have gone to the one in Brooklyn.

Syreeta 32:28

Yeah, the Brooklyn one. I think I like that one better. It has more options and it's cheaper. I'm on team more affordable. Yeah, so that's just my wovens. And then I have another cabinet next to it, where it's all of my knits of various persuasions. So yeah, I don't have--my thing is, if it doesn't fit in the cabinet, I can't buy it. And I'm trying to ideally get all of my fabric into one cabinet. I feel like I don't need all of that. It's just not necessary.

Lisa Woolfork 32:41

It's just very well managed though. It feels very well managed, very well organized.

Syreeta 33:07

Yeah, it's much better now than having them hidden in different places and being surprised when I open something up and, like, I didn't even know I had this. In my knit cabinet, there are a couple pieces there that are the exact same pieces, the exact same length, because I didn't realize I'd already bought it. So I really liked it. So, yay.

Lisa Woolfork 33:27

Now you have more.

Syreeta 33:28

Yeah, but . . .

Lisa Woolfork 33:30

I surprised myself with gifts. Some people call it a bad memory. I call it generosity.

Syreeta 33:39

But yeah, all fabric has to fit in the cabinet. And then I like to save scraps because I like to make a lot of mock ups. And so in the storage ottoman, here is where I keep all scraps of larger sizes. So if I need to I have a little bit of linen and I just mock up some pockets. I also have a giant bowl of muslin fabric, so I use that to basically toile everything.

Lisa Woolfork 34:08

So yes. Wow, this is so amazing, Syreeta. My goodness, this has been so generous and so exciting. Let me ask you, what advice would you give for someone who is starting out sewing in a small space and wants to kind of build a practice as you have around creating a space that that feeds their soul, that inspires and allows for creativity, but they're just starting out? They're in a small space, and they will be in the small space for quite a while. What do they need to get going, to get started?

Syreeta 34:43

Patience, I think. Like, where I am today is light years from where I was four, five years ago when I first started and I probably wouldn't even be able to imagine that it looked like this back then. And I think it just comes to you over time. Some people like having everything out at their fingertips, and then some people like things hidden away, and you won't know what you like until you try. So for me, it's just try something, try anything. If it works, fantastic. If it doesn't, that's great too, because you know it doesn't work and you try something else. So I think that would be my advice: just have patience with yourself. It's not going to be perfect going out, and you'll get there eventually.

Lisa Woolfork 35:23

I love it. And on that note--you'll get there eventually--thank you so much, Syreeta Price, for being with us today. Syreeta, tell us where we can find you on social media.

Syreeta 35:33

So I'm on Instagram at Syreeta Briana. And that's where I share all of my sewing things, and if you like pattern weights, or want nice pattern weights for your gifts, I'm also on Etsy. I mean, you can find the link in my Instagram profile.

Lisa Woolfork 35:46

Excellent. And I will include the link to your Etsy shop in the show notes of this episode, as well as direct links to your Instagram page so people can find you right away. Thank you again, so much for being with us today. This was so much fun. I loved it.

Syreeta 36:00

I had so much fun. I loved it. Thank you for having me on.

Lisa Woolfork 36:10

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

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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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