mending communities, one sewing machine at a time

Category Archives: In the News

Here are mentions of The Sewing Machine Project in various news media.

Life’s A Stitch-our newest collection site!

Life’s a Stitch is a Bernina dealership located in DePere, Wisconsin. I was honored when just this morning they drove in from DePere to deliver 35 beautiful machines that had been donated through Bernina’s Give and Get Back promotion that ran through the summer. All of the machines were checked over and everything! So Awesome!!

And following that tremendous gift they offered to become a regular collection site. We’ve been looking for a dealership in that area to help us out and here they are.

We are thrilled and honored to add them to our list of Partners.


India2We are so excited to learn that the 15 sewing machines and 2 sergers that we sent to India have reached their final destination! For a few months they were hung up in customs. It was amazing how many people came to our aid.  Everyone was working together but from different angles to help this shipment complete its journey.

And now the machines have reached Apne Aap–this beautiful organization which helps young women develop marketable skills. The alternative is gritty….so many young women are led into the sex trades whether through coercion or through desperation. It is such a noble endeavor that Apne Aap assumes….to give women options through education.

We are proud to help this organization do their important work and we can’t wait to see what these young women create!

The Quilt Life-February 2013

We are so honored to be featured in the “helping hands” segment of the February 2013 issue of The Quilt Life. Check it out!

The Quilt Life Cover


Volunteer Day-Let the pictures tell the story…

We had a huge, wonderful Volunteer Day this past Saturday…30 volunteers, 135 machines, a 16 foot truck, 4 giant pizzas and more smiles and love than one can convey on a page. We’ve received so many machines in recent months that we’ve had a hard time keeping up so I contacted those who’d shown an interest and asked if they’d be available. Can you come and help “sew in” machines??

The response was overwhelming. The church graciously offered a larger workspace and we were off and running. There were people working on machines, packing a shipment, packing the truck for the warehouse, inventorying, you name it. We had two gracious hostesses, welcoming volunteers as they arrived and helping them get settled.

I handed my camera to various people throughout the day and this morning I went through those pictures for the first time. There are so many I can’t even include them all in one posting. What I love is that they convey the mood of the day. People helping people, meeting and laughing together, puzzling over unusual machines, working to help one cause.

The spirit was palpable on Saturday. Throughout the day I would take moments to look around and listen to the voices, the laughter, and see Spirit at work. It was amazing.

Take a look.

Big smiles, open hearts!

I talked to Rebecca yesterday. She’s teaching our newest local programs at the Catholic Multicultural Center here in Madison. These classes are kind of a pilot thing that began with the classes for Bhutanese refugees in the spring. Rebecca’s expanded that program for Hispanic members of the community, teaching basic sewing machine use and simple, fun projects. I asked Rebecca to be the Lead on this project for many reasons…first of all, she’ so flexible. She adapts her teaching to the student’s interests and skill levels and does it so effectively. She’s warm and kind and most of all, she dives right in. We were promised a translator for these classes which need to be in Spanish and sometimes the translator is there, sometimes not. Does this stop Rebecca? Not for a moment! She dives in with her growing Spanish vocabulary and keeps things moving!

So I gave her a call yesterday to see how it all was going. She’s pleased with the progress, and I could hear the smile in her voice when she described how the students are teaching her Spanish while she teaches them sewing.

We’d decided that students who completed all six sessions, and the Pay it Forward component (making something for a charitable cause) would be able to take home their machine at the end of the class. She shared this information with the women just the other day and she couldn’t find the words to describe the joy that filled the room. “Some of the ladies were in tears,” she said. A new tool, a new skill, and new hope!

I am headed over to the Center this afternoon to help her with today’s class. I can’t wait.

New local programs

When we offered basic sewing classes for newly arrived Bhutanese refugees last spring we were so excited to extend a hand of welcome into the Madison community. Teaching out of the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison, we were impressed with all the programs they offered and the people they serve. The talented local sewer, author and SMP board member, Steffani Lincecum headed up the classes. As we taught the Bhutanese classes, other Center clients stopped by, interested in learning more. As a result, we are offering these basic classes once again this fall, both in English and Spanish, to Center clients who are looking to mend their lives through sewing. Local sewer and designer, Rebecca Sites will teach these new classes.

A generous grant from the Madison South Rotary Foundation makes this fall’s classes possible.

Participants will complete the class by joining in a Pay it Forward day where they’ll create something to donate–perhaps mittens for a local shelter, baby blankets for a hospital…something that not only gives back but also reminds participants that every one of us has a role, a responsibility, to mend our community.

Learning a new skill, finding an outlet through creativity, finding new hope, mending one’s life and giving back to the community…that’s what we’re all about.

Help when we need it

Recently, I put out a call to volunteers to help us wade through the huge donation from Bernina of America. We received 325 machines, all the same model, but in varying degrees of repair…some brand new, others in need of attention. What a great gift!

So I asked for help. Once again, the sweet retired (mostly!) volunteers from Oscar Mayer came to my rescue. And even more! Friends, board members…everyone came to the party! Smiling and laughing, helping each other, we worked through as many machines as we could. Our goal was to end up (after two work days) with 85 useable machines to send to Guatemala. We ended up with 125!!Everyone helped so much! From unpacking and repacking machines to sewing on and testing machines to fixing broken circuit board…everyone found their niche and was such a help.

Both days were hot hot hot and despite the fans we had going the room heated up. Did anyone complain? Not a bit! Big hugs all around, kind words, and so much gratitude. It’s hard to find the words to thank such a wonderful, loving group…but I’ll start with Thank You.

SeaHope bags rolling in for Absolutely Art show!

Here's a sneak peek of the detail from one of the new bags!

It’s like Christmas! Talented artists in the Madison area and around the country have embraced the challenge of designing new SeaHope Artists’ bags! With each newly-embellished bag delivered we are continually in awe of the depth and breadth of talent! They’re all so unique and wonderful!!

I am so grateful for the dedication of these artists as they volunteer their time and expertise to expand our Artists’ Bag line.

We’ll unveil the new bags at the Absolutely Art gallery opening on June 1.

A portion of the proceeds will be presented to Bayou Grace, a local community nonprofit in Chauvin, Louisiana, helping area residents recover after the 2010 oil spill.

The bags will be on display and for sale all month long but first come, first served! Get there early to have the best selection…they’re so beautiful–they won’t last long!

Brava Magazine celebrates local women making a difference

I was thrilled to be included in Brava magazine’s April issue. Here’s the article! Thank you, Brava!








SeaHope Partners donates proceeds to Bayou Grace

SeaHope Partners, an initiative of The Sewing Machine Project, was created in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf oil spill to help mend communities affected by the spill. SeaHope achieves this goal by selling a specially designed messenger bag, made of recycled nautical materials and donating the proceeds to groups which work to mend communities in the Gulf.

SeaHope is proud to announce the donation of $1200 to Bayou Grace, a grassroots organization whose mission is stated as follows: Bayou Grace addresses the most critical and immediate needs of residents of the 5 Bayous in Lower Terrebonne Parish, LA to give renewed strength to the community and to mobilize residents in advocacy for the environmental health of their communities.

The Sewing Machine Project/SeaHope recognizes the wonderful efforts of this group as they mend their community. This donation is earmarked to assist with the community meals, orchestrated by Bayou Grace, which bring community residents together and give them a venue and a voice to mend their community.


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