Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Caftans and Cocktails with a Twist

You might have seen that the first Saturday of Caftans and Cocktails passed without any acknowledgement or activity from Loni or me. 

Returning so quickly to sewing as usual didn't seem right. I know there are some people out there thinking “When can we get back to normal?” and “When can we get back to sewing?” But the normal we knew before is not the one we want to get back to...

Earlier this spring Loni and I put together Caftans and Cocktails with the intent of infusing some frivolity, fun and joy into our worlds during this time when we’re all cooped up at home due to COVID-19. We still think some joy, especially sewing joy, is necessary for all of us, but we feel like it needs to be paired with some anti-racist action, too. The new normal. 
It’s time for change. It’s time for those of us with white privilege to incorporate anti-racism actions into our routines and our sewing practices (see Leila's thoughtful post above). And it’s got to be done in a permanent, sustainable way. We can’t just be reactionary when something terrible happens. Terrible shit happens every day to Black people because of institutionalized and structural racism, and the sewing community and sewing industry are certainly not an exception to this rule. 

So we’re pivoting: it’s now Caftans and Cocktails with a Twist. An anti-racist twist.

I hope this doesn’t come off as performative, although I understand we're running the risk it might. But I’m feeling like it’s better to try to leverage our collective white privilege, spur action from our (largely) white woman audiences, and screw up, rather than stay silent or continue with the status quo. We want to incorporate some space and energy for further discussion and action through this sewing "event," and do our small part to keep up the movement beyond the news cycle. I hope pairing a reminder to take action with something fun for a couple of months can turn it into a habit. 

Anyway, here are the details: Each Saturday now through August, Loni and I are planning to share caftans and cocktails on Instagram, as planned, but we’ll also be highlighting organizations doing anti-racism work, shouting-out to sewists and activists in our sewing community, putting forward discussion questions and tools, and encouraging our audiences to do some work of their own off-line in addition to on-line. 

And if you’d like to join in, we hope that you’ll do so by posting a photo of yourself on Instagram using the hashtag #caftansandcocktails2020, wearing a caftan, drinking a beverage of your choice, and taking a bit of time to do or plan some anti-racist work. 

Your anti-racism activity is your choice: it could be donating to a local organization that does anti-racism work, talking to friends or family about tearing down systematic racism, doing some anti-racism learning by reading or listening to a podcast, writing some letters to your government representatives, writing the fabric and pattern companies you patronize to ask them to detail specifically what actions they’re taking in this sphere, registering to vote, talking to your kids about racism or reading them a book centered on a Black character, volunteering in your community… lots of options. 

We hope you’ll take the opportunity to invite a sewing friend or two to join you, whether virtually or in-person (if you can do so safely) for a #sewhappyhour, to sip your tasty beverage, admire one another’s caftans and hopefully have some conversations about white privilege that make you uncomfortable. 

No prizes, no giveaways, no need to sew anything new (unless you want to; we’re happy to be your excuse!), no pressure. Join if and when you can. If sewing a caftan will soothe your worried mind and give you the mental space to process some of the heavy ideas and feelings we’re all having these days, go for it. Loni and I have caftan pattern round-up posts here and here if you need some inspiration.

Finally: we’re looking for interested folks to join us in organizing Caftans and Cocktails with a Twist. The way we originally set this up, it’s every Saturday through August, and that’s a marathon… but we’d like it to be more like a relay race (with no end!). So we’d love your assistance if you want to join us and take the baton for leg!

Sign up here to let us know if you’d be willing to take the lead for a Saturday or two over the summer, share a caftan, cocktail and some ideas about furthering anti-racism efforts. We're certainly not experts in this and are still in the throes of learning ourselves, so we'd love to join forces keep the conversation and action flowing.

I know these topics can feel too big, too hopeless (I’ve definitely felt that way!), but small actions, especially those that you sustain for the long haul, can make a big difference. See you in the hashtag.

Black lives matter.