The Unforgettable Adventures of GEL Design Mystery Quilts with Gyleen Fitzgerald, Ebony Love, and Latifah Saafir

Support Black Women Stitch and Stitch Please podcast with a 2022 Black Women Stitch Wall Calendar

GEL Collective Resources:

From GEL: Parallel Universe was successful beyond our imagining, and we want Elemental to be even better. The three of us reviewed what went well and what we could do better, so here’s what you can expect from the 2022 mystery:

  • A Special Collector’s Edition Tool Box with Swag (while supplies last)we know that getting something in the mail makes people feel more connected to the experience, and we want YOU to know that you’re special to us too! This is included in your registration and will ship to your doorstep.
  • 3 brand-new tools (1 from each instructor) that are included in your registration priceno more guessing whether it’s buried in your sewing room, no need to print paper templates and struggle with sizing and cutting repetitively! This will come inside your Tool Box.
  • Pre-recorded video lessons that launch with the PDF pattern eliminates tech issues and allows us to focus on what we do best: teaching!
  • Live Q&A Sessions with each instructorso you don’t miss out on that bonding experience with each instructor in a more relaxed setting
  • Simulcast of live sessions into the classroomso not having a Facebook account isn’t a barrier to your participation
  • Standard pattern formatting & instructions, less color saturationwe’re hiring a tech editor & illustrator to make it easier for you to follow the pattern from week to week & save printer ink
  • Simplified ordering – you can order all your supplies in our new One Stop Shop!

We hope you agree that these will make Elemental a breeze for you and we look forward to seeing you!

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Lisa Woolfork 0:17

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 am so happy to be here I am your host Lisa Woolfork. I am a fourth generation sewing enthusiast as you well know, and I say the same thing every week. This is a very special episode. And this episode is especially special special because I am bringing to you none other than the gel of the quilting world. The gel the G the E and the L and that is of course Gyleen Fitzgerald, Ebony Love and Latifah Saafir, and they have combined together once again, to bring something fantastic to the quilt community that can only come from the minds of three engineers. So I am happy to welcome GEL to the program. And that is Gyleen, Ebony and Latifah. Thank you all for being here. And welcome.

Ebony 1:42

Thanks for having me. Yes.

Lisa Woolfork 1:43

And if you are a Patreon supporter, you get to see this amazing video because each of them one looks gorgeous, to has backgrounds that are absolutely stunning, with exciting work that they have been doing in beautiful backgrounds. It's just very interesting. So the Patreon supporters will be able to get the video I will upload the video as part of the episode release. To get started, let's talk about GEL. How did gel get started? Now of course there could have been so many other, you can put G-E-L together in, I don't know y'all do math. I'm sure there's like a formula that could tell how many ways you can mix three letters together and get three different outcomes. Who knows? Y'all might have put this in some kind of computer program that you all just happen to quickly design to see what was the best sounding name to come up? I don't know. So tell me about how you got to GEL?

Latifah 2:36

Well, we started working together, we specifically came together to plan our very first mystery quilt. And we thought you know what, if this really works out, it would be great if we had something identify this as a group. And even if we added other quilters in the future, or whatever, just something that identify the three original quilters that started it. So we did play around with the letters of our name that was kind of the easiest way and GELs just like a really cool word. And I think it really describes our experience from the first year with our very first mystery quilt, we really gelled and we really came together and it was so seamless and so easy. And like it really, really worked. This is a great place for us to start out together as well.

Lisa Woolfork 3:16

The thing I love about GEL is that you're right. It's a fun word. It's a noun. It's a verb, it does so much. And also, you know, Black girls like put gel on our hair. It's like, it's all in the good really, this really worked out really, really beautiful. So thank you for sharing the origins of that. Now you have to tell us, was the first activity that you all did together as a group? Was it the Parallel Mystery Quilt that you designed and started for? 2021? How did that go? I remember talking about it. You are on episode 45 of the podcast and, everybody, I'm going to include a link to Episode 45 of the podcast in the show notes so that you can get to it and see more about the origins of that particular quilt project. But how did it turn out? Like were there any exciting surprises? How did it go?

Gyleen 4:01

Well, from our perspective, it went well. I think, from the beginning because we were in COVID full swing. We were under God's grace the whole time. I mean, things were on such backorder and we were getting things nick of time. And we did a way to kind of stall a little bit by adding in instead of we wanted to start January 1 no matter what, but we didn't have everything we needed to start. So we designed mini projects. So we could start January 1 and we gave them three extra weeks. And that turned out to being so powerful that this time three weeks is included. From a mystery people were very hesitant. They had never done mysteries, and it builds a lot of anxiety. But we were able to introduce our tools, introduce a teaching style and a project, a little mini project, so that they could get some proficiency before the real McCoy started in three weeks. So that delay, that was just a COVID event and we were just thinking on our feet of what we can do work out so well, that I mean, it's it's great. I wish we thought of that way out- 'Yeah, we should have done XYZ'- no, no, we were stalling for time. And we just needed to make this happen. It all worked out. And now it's part of our formula. Because it was so successful to do that.

Lisa Woolfork 5:29

It's so exciting to hear that because sometimes when you get stuck in a situation, it can be challenging to find a way to think yourself out of it. What I find so impressive, is that you were confronted with a situation beyond your control, and you had a responsibility to present information to a group of folks who trusted you to come on this journey. And not only did you devise something that was a stop gap, as it were, it actually turned out to be structurally important for the project. And I wonder if you could take maybe Ebony. Since you haven't had a chance to chime in yet, I'll give you the hardest question. Isn't it nice job, right, engineers, that there's a problem. Again, I'm always amazed that all three of you happen to be engineers. I love that. Can you talk a bit more about how engineering and problem solving shaped the way you were able to launch forward with a Parallel Mystery Quilt. Because some folks would be really daunted about, 'wow we have these signups and but our stuff isn't here. And oh, no...' But you turned that into a huge, not just opportunity, but benefit. So say more about it.

Ebony 6:37

I think if there's anything that we have learned over these past 18 months, it is all about resiliency, and all about giving each other grace. And I think that what we were able to demonstrate to everyone who is participating is that, 'hey, you're doing this thing that's unknown. We're doing this thing that's unknown too and we're leading by example, by showing how you pivot and how you take a difficult situation and turn it around and how you can take things that you're not getting the result that you expected- and this applies to sewing, it applies to garments, it applies to just life in general- you have this situation, and you have to work yourself out of the box.' I think it was important for us to go through that journey together. So they could see that we kind of set the tone. We're not panicking about what's happening. We recognize that it's a situation. We recognize we took your money, and we're expected to deliver and we plan to deliver that. But here's what we need to do, we're in this situation together. You're not doing this by yourself. We are all going to start at the same time. And we will lead you to where you need to go. So just relax and try to enjoy the experience that you signed up for. I think what was just really great is that everybody enrolled. A lot of times we think of engineering as just straight, do the math solve the problem. This is a min max capacity, process optimization kind of thing. And what it really is, is it's all about thinking through situations and coming up with solutions. And we can do that together. And it's fine. We're here to help. We're here to adjust. We're here to make this situation a fun one. I think that also gave people the comfort level that they were going to get what they signed up for. And we just all kind of relaxed. This year we tried to mitigate some of that and now China is out of fuel.

Lisa Woolfork 8:33

This is such a beautiful lesson in you can't control everything. But the things that are within your control are magica qnd can still produce, as you said in your engineering joke that I barely understood, optimal outcome.

Gyleen 8:48

When we did all the dry runs, of course, life was great. Then we made some adjustments on our timing to accommodate some religious requirements. So we had to adjust our time. And we thought we had that worked out but who knew all the schools were going to close and every child in America was going to be online at the same time killing our bandwidth and not allowing us to actually operate like you said. There was so much out of our control and to be able to acknowledge it, not make excuses. Call it what it is and say, 'if this recording is not working, we will pre record it and relaunch it.' So we kept saying 'Don't worry about it. Don't worry about it. We're not worried about it because we know we can't control it. We're already frustrated enough for everybody because it was crazy.' And it didn't matter what time we aired. It's like is every child if they're not in school, are they gaming? What are they doing?

Lisa Woolfork 9:46

Who knew the internet was finite. Who knew? That was like if every kid either is at home because they are at home is doing school and then when they're not doing school? They want to relax so they want to play games and so does Mom and Dad who might want to take, I don't know, a mystery quilt class,

Gyleen 10:03

It was crazy. We were buying equipment and calling our servers like there was no tomorrow,

Ebony 10:09

AT&T was out like three times trying upgrade the bandwidth. We're all considering, like, 'I wonder if I need to get a T-1 dedicated line to my house to stabilize this. It was serious.

Lisa Woolfork 10:21

It's really interesting. I think as the world kind of shut down, it felt like almost everybody was turning into a producer of sorts. And by that I mean moms and dads had to become not just employees of somebody else, they had to become homeschool teachers, when they had never intended to do so. And so there was so much radical shifting. But at the same time, something I'm so excited about is what came out of it. And for you all to emerge through all these different challenges stronger as a GEL just is so exciting to me. So it's like the experience had to have some wonderfully redeeming things about it. Otherwise, you wouldn't be back. Right? After all of that ended up getting it sounds like a T-1 line directly to your house seems like a lot for a house. That's one with a family in it. All of these things didn't dissuade you. They were stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. Latifah what do you think?

Latifah 11:17

At the end of the day,we had over 500 quilters who were on this journey with this. And I think it was the community is that what was really what makes these kinds of experiences so special. At the end of the day, everyone was on this journey with us. We weren't the only one struggling with our internet and bandwidth and streaming and all of this. And the beauty was when we had to pivot, that was the key word.

Lisa Woolfork 11:41

I now I don't think I ever want to hear the word pivot again in life. I'm trying to find another word for change directions. I hate it so much.

Latifah 11:46

So when we had to do that everyone graciously did it with us. And it really turned the whole community GEL. And we moved along with the process. And at the end, we had an established community of people that went on this journey with us. And were really dedicated. So a lot of people are ready for round two, that we're in the process of queuing up right now. And we're just really excited to just keep the momentum going.

Lisa Woolfork 12:16

I think it's just so beautiful to be in a space where you have folks who are taking the journey alongside with you. I think that something I really think often about for different events that I'm working on, or working through is that this is a community, not a commodity. And I use that phrase a lot because I want people to be clear that yes, this might be an event or whatever. But I'm inviting you in for these different reasons. That's completely different from what you're doing, what you're doing is you have created this beautiful community of people who are doing more than just buying a class. It feels like when you have the community aspect, and so many people are trying to generate it without doing the work required for it to work because managing a community is effort, It takes considerable effort to do that and to make sure people feel that their voice is included, and that their voice is included in all of this. And so I'm so excited to hear that the 500 quilters that were alongside the journey with you aren't just 500 consumers. They're 500 people who you all are sharing space with and continuing to create a long side, and that is just so absolutely beautiful. Do you remember any experiences during the process that surprised you?

Gyleen 13:40

One thing that I thought was incredibly important of the group, there were several who never quilted before. They were beginner beginner. They weren't even good sewers, and they took that huge leap of faith. And when they start posting their pictures, it just the whole rest of their Facebook group became the cheerleaders and just spurred them on to those finishes and gave them that sense of confidence. "Yes, you can do it. Don't worry about that." One of the thing that Ebony brought her code word was 'coping strips" that if it's too small, we got coping strips, you can add this on and cut it down. Don't worry about it just keep going. But that wiggle room for me, it was a mystery. It was a challenge. And it was a modern quilt. But when you have newbie newbies that barely know they're machines coming on and able to produce the product, and then yet you have skilled competitive quilters producing it, and you have that and it says something about the design and about the group willing to help each other.

Lisa Woolfork 14:50

I absolutely agree. I did not realize that you have folks who are super super newbies.

Latifah 14:54

We don't teach necessarily really easy techniques necessarily. But all three of us are experience as teachers to where we can take you step by step. So I have the saying where 'nothing is difficult if you take it one step at a time.' So a lot of people looked at curve piecing. That was my area last year as being difficult whereas Gyleen teaches butterfly seams, which is very, I guess a lot of people think about it as like a Y seam. But it's her technique for teaching it. And Ebony has her techniques, and we all came together and but we take it step by step by step. And it's like everyone in this room can do it. And they've trusted us enough to believe that they could, and what's kind of amazing to see the process happen.

Ebony 15:32

And that's the beauty of a mystery quilt too. And I hear this a lot because I do mystery quiltss otherwise. But the message is, if you see the quilt, before it starts, you will talk yourself out of doing it,

Gyleen 15:46

We have to say that to Ebony, right?

Ebony 15:51

If I had known where you were taking me before I signed up, I never would have signed up. But I'm so glad that I did sign up. And then I did this project because the beauty of the mystery quilt is that you can take somebody on a journey and take them to a place that they weren't expecting, that they didn't know that they could get to. And it helps build confidence and you know, just all kinds of things that you don't really necessarily think about quilting. But I feel like especially in this environment, it's important for people to get wins. No matter how small that win, you know, might be whether it's learning a new technique, or nailing their quarter inch seam or learning how to put on coping strips. And how do I problem solve if this is wrong? How do I cope with putting my block in upside down? 'Just keep going,' you know? So many life lessons just in this thing we call sewing.

Lisa Woolfork 16:44

And one of the things I appreciate, Gyleen, you mentioned grace before. The idea of even to have the concept of a coping strip, right? That that could even be a thing like, 'Hey, you have all that you need to solve this problem. Don't worry about it. Just use a coping strip. Do use a little or use a lot. Whatever you need. It's okay,' that is so wonderful because, Latifah, you mentioned trust that people trusted you to kind of go on this journey with them. But what I find so remarkable about your teaching that all of you have encouraged quilters and the folks in your class to trust themselves. And I think that is such a big deal in sewing and in life. Because I have talked to a lot of different sewers and they all seem to have fears of something, like fears of making a bra, fears of someone was stretch material, fears of making an umbrella. And I think quilting seems to be super fearful. I remember when I was first starting out like 20 years ago, it was like people were explaining to me like if I didn't have a perfect quarter inch seam it would be like I would fall off the earth and never touch a sewing machine again. I was like, 'I don't know why this is this way. Is it gendered? Is it because women are supposed to be...?" I don't know what it is. I resented from the beginning. I was like, 'I really don't think it's the end of the world. If this doesn't go this particular way.' But all the patterns that I was using all of them have very, very strict things. And so it doesn't inspire for someone who is easy to talk themselves out of things. These strict rules make it that much easier to do. So it's like well, you know, no, no, I can't do it. I'm not perfect. I would never be chosen in a juried show. I'd never put my quilt into a jury show because I don't have that kind of perfection or whatever. And you're saying that you can still do really beautiful work. And that perfection is not mandatory.

Gyleen 18:36

I mean, we've had so far several, maybe like five that when they finished, they competed their quilts. We saw ribbons on those puppies. You talk about make mama proud. It was so cool. And we were like 'yay!' Other people were spotting the parallel universe design at some of the major shows and recognized it. And they had ribbons on it. And knowing the whole process, it certainly made us feel good as instructors. And what Latifah and those curves. And she's like, 'Oh, I don't think you need pens.' And I'm even thinking "Oh my God, I would have thrown a couple of pins in there." And I'm watching her video. And I'm like, "You kidding me? You did that without pins." But I don't think any of us really, like you said, made it so rigid. You couldn't be fluid about it. I don't think we mentioned other than if the seam was a little bit too heavy on how they got so small because that was a curiosity. It's like "how does that block get so little?" But usually it was because they had the wrong foot on or something. And so we had to take them offline and say "what foot do you have on the machine? Do you have this foot..."and just give them some guidance like that. We didn't say "Oh you have to start over." No, we added a coping strip and show them how to finish up that design so they could go without missing a beat. But I think all of those good things are encouraging people to sign up for the elemental, because they're ready. And now on Facebook, we're hearing them chatter of people saying, "Oh, I don't know." And they are last year fans coming in and said, "I had the same thought. And I got it done and I learned so much and don't be afraid they'll take you through it." So we have little mini sales group cheerleaders out there letting people know. So now we're all ready for the elemental to kickoff.

Lisa Woolfork 20:43

The Black Woman's Stitch 2020 wall calendar is bigger and Blacker than ever. Not only is the calendar about 15% larger than last year's calendar, it still remains jam packed with so much wonderful history about Black women's history, sewing history and activist history. There's also a wonderful new feature in this year's version. And that is the quarterly pattern release. At the beginning of every quarter, you'll find original images from Black women artists. The patterns are available as a PDF download, allowing you to resize them to the needs of your project. Order your copy of the Black Women Stitch 2022 wall calendar at blackwomenstitch.big cartel.com and we will help you get your stitch together.

Elementals. I want to hear about it. I want to hear what's happening when I think elementals of course I think of Earth Wind and Fire because I'm a Black girl who was born in the 70's. We can do a whole nother podcast episode about the 1970s music and how now is classified as oldies.

Gyleen 21:53

...but least oldies but goodies!

Lisa Woolfork 21:56

Listen, they play it in the grocery stores at our Wegman's. It's like "Earth, Wind and Fire" Stevie Wonder. And I'm like, "Wait, they supposed to have old person music in the grocery stores and elevators. Why is Earth ,Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder..." I don't like it. I don't like it. It's not old people music. That's young people music.

Gyleen 22:12

But Ebony came up with the name of the new one. And she was responsible for the lead concept this time. Yes.

Lisa Woolfork 22:13

So tell us Ebony. Get in to it.

Ebony 22:22

Yeah. So it's interesting just how these things just kind of flow together. So this year, we're using a fabric collection called Forecast, which is all about the elements of weather. And so that kind of formed the basis of kind of the concept of the quilt. But then we also thought of, "what else does elemental? You know, mean?" It's geometry. It's back to basics. It's diving things down to their core and stripping out all of the excess. And just getting to what is that core? What is the essence. And so I think that that's just how that came together. And then from a design perspective, we took a little bit of a different design approach. I don't know how much we want to hint about that. But it's not the same approach that we took to the design last year. So there are some twists happening, you know, in there. And I think in the beginning, we lost sight a little bit of what we were trying to do. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves, right? Like, this has to be better than what it was before. And therefore we have to add this, this and this and do this. No, make that turn make that spin. And so it got to where it was like we couldn't see the quilts anymore. And we were almost competing. The sections were just kind of competing with each other. And we actually took a step back and we're like, "Let's go back to basics. Let's strip it. Let's simplify. Let's pull back." What is that saying in fashion, like get dressed where you think your dress and then take something off? And then you're done.

Lisa Woolfork 24:00

That's right. That's right.

Latifah 24:01

We're also each releasing a new never-seen-before tool. So we each issue our individual templates last time. So we're introducing a new one that will be used for the very first time in Elementals. So it's pretty exciting. We haven't even shown them yet.

Gyleen 24:18

We knew when the design was done, you could feel it. It was visceral. It was very organic. When it was done. We knew it. We could see it. We felt it. We were calm. And we're like okay, we got it. It was really good. When it finally was done. You know it you can feel it. And we're like yes, this is elemental.

Lisa Woolfork 24:37

I am so excited because when you said "organic" about the process of the design process, the design process where the three of you got together to figure out what this was going to look like and how to represent the three of you and how the GEL was going to put forward its its sophomore album, so to speak, and the way that you regrounded yourself in the elements. I know there's all of these beautiful spiritual sayings about you know, with ancestors and feet on the ground and head in the sky or whatever, this balance between giving yourself some grace, right? Relieving yourself of pressure to do more and more and more and more and more and instead to say, "You know what? We don't need to do that. How about we rein it in? Let's just take a breath and start at the very beginning." which is the elements, something that transcends time. It's just absolutely amazing. And what I seem to be hearing is that, if you took the Mystery Quilt before. If you are one ofthe 500 people who took the quilt project, you should still definitely do the one that's coming up for 2022.

Latifah 25:42

Yeah. In the box you'll get your tools. But we also have included some extra special fun things that we haven't really disclosed to everyone yet, but they're starting to come in, and we're really excited to share them with everybody, so it'll be chock full of goodies.

Lisa Woolfork 25:55

Wow, y'all, it's a new gadget! I love notions, I am a sucker for notions of all kinds. I'm not a quilter. I'm an apparel sewist by nature, but I still got like 1000 rulers. And now if I take this, I want to take this, I'm gonna have a 1,003. Because y'all have given us, the Stitch Please podcast listeners, a 10% discount. I will include it at the end of this episode. So you can plan a click on it and have it. We have a discount code so that you can participate in this amazingness. And I didn't even know that there was new toys.

Ebony 26:31

Oh, can we tell about the box?

Gyleen 26:34

Yes, tell about the box.

Lisa Woolfork 26:36

There's a box? Wait there's toys and a box?

Ebony 26:39

It's an exclusive collector's edition box for early participants while supplies last. It's a box. And there's goodies inside. And Latifah designed the most amazing badges. And we also did a badge for last year. Because last year we had there were too many supply issues and uncertainties, so we weren't able to do the goodies. So we designed the badge for last year. So if you did last year's quilt, and this year's quilt, you can order last year's badge to come in your box.

Lisa Woolfork 27:15

This is very exciting news.

Ebony 27:16

I'm so excited.

Lisa Woolfork 27:19

So if you're listening to this, this is probably the time to run to your computer and sign up so that you can get one of these limited edition goodie boxes. And they've already told you that there's three tools that are part of the project. And now there's a box with other things that are also mysterious, but also amazing. And while supplies last, there is no guarantee that everybody who signs up for this will get a box.

Ebony 27:48

Well when we run out of boxes, we might have to shut things down.

Latifah 27:55

We run out of boxes, we are out of boxes.

Gyleen 27:59

The badges are so cute. I mean, if you think about Girl Scouts and Brownies, well don't think about Brownies too much because I got kicked out the Brownies. But that's not the point. The point is only two Blacks got kicked out of the Brownies. And we got kicked out together for a prank. But it was a good prank. It really worked. But the badges are so cool. You could actually sew them on the back of the quilt as part of your label. But I definitely am going to sew mine on my denim jacket. So they're a little cute. I mean, they are cute. And Latifah is such a designer and she just kind of blows it off like, "oh, no, it's nothing." But I mean, she can just tick it out and her brain just does it and me and Ebony ae like, "Oh yeah, that works. Okay, let's border those."

Ebony 28:48

What's kind of like, I feel badly because everything ships out of my warehouse. So everything comes here. So anything Latifah has designed or design, they all land here, so I see them first. Their tools come to my warehouse so it's like everything is with me, so I get to see it first.

Lisa Woolfork 29:05

I am so excited for this. And it is I can tell you, it just does my heart, so much good to see three Black women leading and producing and teaching and providing so many possibility models for other people to step forward and to take on this craft. I consider this an ancestral craft for Black folks. And the ways that we have been shut out of the different mainstream industries is shameful. And this is such a beautiful offering and to let people know that we do everything right, you know, we do everything. Right. And so I absolutely love this, and I have loved this opportunity to talk about this. And so how can folks sign on? They've listened to the podcast, they're eady to go? They got the discount code. They found it in the show notes where I'm going to put it everybody. It will be in the show notes. If you say, "What's the discount code?" You should just open the episode, and it will be there. What do they do to sign up and to get going? Do they need to buy a fabric, what do they need to do?

Ebony 30:16

They can just go to elementalmysteryquilt.com. And that will direct them to the website. We always like to just share information. We tell people, "Everything's on the website." Everything you need is on the website. Everything you need is in the classroom. So we take you to basically a page where you can read about everything that's included. So it's a nine week class. It starts January 1. When they register- while supplies last- included in their registration is the three tools, the special collector's box, all the goodies that come inside the box, and then they also get access to the digital classroom, where the videos and the PDFs will be there for them. So we release a new PDF every week. And then at the end of each week, we also do a live session to answer any questions that maybe you didn't get from the video. So there's a pre recorded and a live component. We didn't have that last year. Last year it was, 'you get online and if we can stay connected for the class,...' This time, it's "if you stay connected, you can watch the video." And once they register, they get access to the classroom and what we have there as the fabric requirements and the supplies and the things that they need. If they want to order a kit, we don't require you to purchase fabric from us. But it's super easy and convenient. It comes in a cute box, a different box. That's really cute too. So they can order fabric. And there's actually a page when they register. They can just select their options. There's Batik, there's Kona, we have a solid colorway, as well. They can pick any additional supplies, I think there's like you can order your Parallel Universe badge, which was last year's quilt. There are some other helpful supplies like thread and, and things like that, that they can add on. So it's kind of a one stop shop. We call it our Elemental one stop shop. So you're just like, pick your option, and then sign up. So super easy.

Lisa Woolfork 32:15

So I'm going to give you all each a chance to make one last statement. And I wanted to see if you could tell somebody who might be on the fence, "I don't think I'm good enough sewer," or "Quilting is hard or whatever" and "Curved pieces without pin madness," what would you say to kind of get them to try.

Latifah 32:32

So I think the beauty of the GEL experience is that you have three world class teachers. And unlike even being in a classroom with us, you have access to videos that you can stop and sew and replay and watch over and over and over again. And then we'll have hundreds of other participants going along the journey with you. So if you have questions or run into an issue or need advice on fabric, or whatever it is, not only do you have access to these three instructors, but you also have the input. And we have some very, very generous and enthusiastic participants that go along the journey with us. And they sometimes answer the questions even before we get to them. It's like this huge support system. So that's why a beginner was able to really get a lot from experience and finished quilts. And that's why the experience people were able to really take those techniques and perfect them as well. It's a journey. It's more than just a quilt. It's a whole experience. And that nine weeks actually has lasted a lot longer than that, you know, because we still have people showing their quilts that they're finishing now, after all of this time. Don't hesitate. It's an amazing experience

Gyleen 33:48

Latifah touched on it. We do have a Facebook group component and it's a private group. And so we have a GEL group that we established on the first one. We are having like an auxilary group, let's call it, for everybody for Elemental. The more you post photographs, whether you post a few or are hesitant on posting, once you start seeing other people post, in encourages you to post. You're really buying a nine week course. And we will be on that page repeatedly those Facebook pages that page repeatedly during the day to answer questions if somebody else doesn't beat you to the punch. But here we are almost 10 months later, and we're still visiting those pages making sure we still are there to cheer on. Now we're not visiting as often, but we're still there. We're still answering questions. And all the documentation is still on the classroom platform for those first students. So you have something that you can't really get when you show up in person. I mean yeah, you get us and you can smile at us and we can hug and smile back. But you don't get that long, year long swing with us of always been there, always having your back. I always say if you don't think about the whole journey, and that's why we give you the the tidbits a little bit at a time with the mystery to encourage you to take that first step. I see for those who did the mystery, it was a light switch. They are forever changed after to their experience

Lisa Woolfork 35:29

That is incredibly empowering. That sounds like what you've done is empower people. Ebony. Any last thoughts?

Ebony 35:36

Yeah, I think what people are buying, they're not buying a pattern. They're not buying a class. They're buying into a community and an experience that can last as long as they want that experience to last. I think when you look at the quilt, it's not that you have to make the quilt in nine weeks. We are teaching you how to make the quilt over nine weeks. And so you're free to set your own pace. The documentation is there. The videos are there. The help is there. The communities are still open, you know, so you can work at your own pace. You know, you're kind of brought into this space with other people, and I don't think you can put a price on that. It's something that you need to experience. And if you don't sign up, you miss it. Right, if you sign up and you choose not to take advantage of it, day one on January 1, well, come back and see us in March. We'll still be there. You know, teaching and showing and that kind of thing. So you know, so a lot of people are like, "Oh, well, I can't start the first day." or "I can show up for that time. You know that time doesn't work for me?" Well, it's digital, y'all.

Lisa Woolfork 36:47

You don't have to be anywhere, you can do it in your car, if you wanted to do it. Don't drive, not driving, no, not drive.

Ebony 36:55

You know, but I think that's the piece that we really have an advantage here is that this is the way to get the three of us together. You're never going to see this in person, right? Even without COVID, this is a unique experience. This is something we were not able to do pre COVID, and we can continue to do in spite of COVID. So it's not even really a factor anymore. I think it's just recognizing that we are community building here. We are teaching life skills. We are learning life skills together. We learn from each other, and having that support system too it's just, it's so so so important. You know, there's people when they post it's not always about the quilt sometimes it's about, "oh man, I broke my foot. And you know, I can't you know sew." and then people go "hey, can you get a friend to come over? And you know, help you do this?" "Hey, send me your pieces." "Hey, does anybody have, I miss cut this fabric, does anybody have a piece of this you can send me?" So there's more to it than just the rote steps of how to make the thing. It's like, yeah, you get a quilt at the end of it, but look at all the other stuff that that comes along with it.

Lisa Woolfork 38:07

Look at all the stuff that comes along with it. And on that note, I am very grateful to the three of you for being here. And when Ebony said that this is not something that's going to happen in real life, you all are in three different time zones, right?

Gyleen 38:21

Yeah, we thought maybe our next quilt would be 356. That's the time we always can meet is 356.

Ebony 38:31

And we have to do it that way. Because if we try to change the time, it's like, "Wait what time?" "You're an hour early?" It's 356. That's what it is.

Lisa Woolfork 38:42

I love it. And the 356 shows how you gel.

Latifah 38:45

The other idea is that it could be the name of our R&B group when we start it.

Lisa Woolfork 38:49

I'm excited about that as well. I would be happy to promote also. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I would volunteer to sing, but y'all want your group to be successful. Oh, I'll work on the costume. That's what I can do to help.

Latifah 39:03

I do want to say thank you so much for having us on for a second time, for being a cheerleader for us. Congratulations on your passing up your 100 episode. It's a huge accomplishment. It's always a joy to be on here with you.

Lisa Woolfork 39:16

Thank you and I feel the same way. I absolutely feel the same way. It's all love. I'm a Black woman with sewing podcast that centers Black women, girls and femmes. And it's three amazing Black women, teachers, designers, engineers, in three different times zones. This is this is the dream, y'all. This is amazing. And it just shows that we are the ones we've been waiting for. And I'm just grateful and grateful and y'all are amazing.

Ebony 39:39

Thank you, Lisa.

Gyleen 39:41

We love you.

Lisa Woolfork 39:52

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. And 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 who do, for those that have like a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us at 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.

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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