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Civic Impact

Free gender neutral sewing workshop dispels stereotypes, promotes economic stability

In an attempt to demystify the sewing machine and dispel gender stereotypes in crafts, a free gender neutral sewing class will be held at the Mattress Factory Art Museum tomorrow from 6:30PM to 8:30PM

Jenn Gooch, a local artist, started the class last year in her former studio space in Lawrenceville called WERK. Since closing the studio earlier this year, Gooch has been able to continue her Gender Neutral Learn-to-Sew workshop with the help of a Seed Award grant from the Sprout Fund. She plans on holding the workshop monthly at different locations throughout the city.

“When I decided to close the WERK storefront, I really wanted to continue Gender-Neutral Learn-to-Sew as a pop-up event,” says Gooch. “Last year the class was BYO-Sewing Machine, but thanks in part to this Seed Award from Sprout, I was able to mobilize the class and purchase five sewing machines for attendants to work on if they are unable to bring their own machine. I also provide material, thread and other supplies at the classes.”

Gooch decided to make the class gender neutral to help promote and encourage individuals of any sex to embrace crafting.
“There are some ridiculous gender stereotypes in many crafts in the U.S. and fibers suffers some of the worst of these stereotypes,” says Gooch. “I wanted to create an open environment where anyone interested in learning how a sewing machine works can feel welcome.”

Through the workshop, Gooch helps to promote home economics, survival and economic sustainability.

“Clothing and shelter are basic needs and require sewing,” she says. “A few sewing skills can help an individual have control over their wardrobe, home furnishings and so much more. Everyone like's to feel like a million bucks, but being able to go to a thrift store, tailor something and get that feeling for five bucks and 30 minutes labor is priceless.”

Good says sewing was a skill she was taught as a child. She was brought up in a conservative Pentecostal community with churchwomen who would sew their own long skirts and other apparel. Her grandmother was also a seamstress and taught Gooch many of her sewing skills. 

“I come from people that made what they couldn't afford,” she says. “Manipulating the earth and its material with tools, be it sewing, woodworking, et cetera, not only gives you the power to be able to create and repair your own goods, but it's what makes us human.”

Click here for the WERK facebook page where you can find more information about the workshop and Gooch's other free or low-cost classes.

Writer: Liz Miles
Sources: Jenn Gooch, WERK
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