The Mobile Sew N Sews is a club of about 10-12 women who began meeting in 1994 at American Sew & Vac to work on various needlework projects and to learn new sewing and embroidery techniques. Among the members are Cathy Baker, Patricia Castleberry, Joyce Stacey, Ann Chalker, Tara Hinton, Jo French, Louise Dixon, Marty Follis, Carmin Budziak and Chasity Gorlott. They meet at 9:30 a.m. on the 3rd Saturday of each month.
While their purpose in the beginning may have been to work on their own projects, it has evolved into including philanthropic activities through which they fulfill a need, but also express their heartfelt sympathy, love or caring for other people. "When we meet, we usually have a pre-planned project chosen during the previous month's class. If someone doesn't have something special in mind for the class, Joyce will choose a project and send out an email with necessary supply list," Pat Castleberry said.
One of their regular altruistic projects is called "Angel Babies." The group routinely designs, sews and delivers to area hospitals very tiny burial outfits for stillborn infants (some of the gowns are as small as Barbie doll dresses.) They include little blankets, tiny booties, caps. This is an ongoing program for the Sew N Sews. The women provide all the materials for their charitable projects, but ask that if anyone has a wedding dress they want to dispose of, they'd like to have it for the little outfits.
After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the group made and sent 75 "Angels of Peace" Christmas ornaments for families of those affected. And when the Tuscaloosa area was heavily damaged by tornadoes, they sewed 100 little girl "pillowcase" dresses.
"One of the most impressive things about this group," Castleberry said, "is how we all seem to agree when a charitable project is introduced, never anyone complaining or refusing to participate." And one of their most impressive projects has been a patriotic one. For six years, they've sewn and shipped 200 fleece caps annually to soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and other locations. The caps are worn under the soldiers' helmets for warmth.
The women said there is more to the Sew N Sews than just coming together to work on their personal or charitable projects. They are friends with a shared passion. As Pat Castleberry put it, "Working with this group of ladies is by far one of the most pleasurable things that I do--they are ALL so accommodating and helpful to each other."
The group is also grateful to Ty Hensley of American Sew & Vac. "He allows us to meet there without charge and occasionally has a Babylock educator or guest to introduce new products or techniques," Castleberry said.