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Handmade: Creative Clothing Club of Metro Detroit

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

You love making your own clothes, and would enjoy connecting regularly with others who share your passion for sewing fashion by joining a local group, but you’ve yet to find one that fits your needs.

Well — the next fourth Tuesday of the month, grab one of your finished sewing projects for a “show and tell,” along with a crisp $5 bill and packaged lunch, and head on over to Central Woodward Christian Church, 3955 W. Big Beaver, Troy, to join members of the Creative Clothing Club of Metro Detroit (CCC). And, if it’s your birthday, take along a delicious dessert to share. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and the meeting is held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. There’s no membership fee, but $5 is always collected at the door from each person to help cover cost for the room rental, coffee and tea, door prizes and gift certificates to fabric stores for speakers.

“We don’t actually sew at the meetings,” says Sue Mathes of Rochester Hills, who serves as president. “The idea behind the club was to only sew garments. The founder didn’t want quilting or crafts. The reason the group started was so we could talk about garments, fabric, designers, fashion shows and anything garment-sewing related.”

Sewing at these informational gatherings was tried a couple of times, but Mathes says it didn’t work due to the number of people attending, usually somewhere between 60-80. The group is mainly about sharing information and ideas, sewing challenges, and planning fabric shopping trips to places like Toronto, Shippshawana, Washington State and Ohio. In the past, members have gone on shopping trips to Italy, Japan and France. Mathes organizes shopping trips to Field’s Fabrics in Grand Rapids.

In addition to shopping trips, members, many who have their own sewing business, are sometimes treated to a lecture by a well-known sewing expert. Past speakers include Sandra Betzina, who designs Today’s Fit Pattern line for Vogue Patterns, and Christine Jonson of Christine Jonson Patterns in Hazel Park.

The group was originally started by Diana Leventer of Southfield, 28 years ago this April. Although she’s in her 90s, Mathes says, “She still attends meetings for the most part, and she still tries to participate in everything we do.” The average age of members is 55-60, while the youngest person is around 40, and some original members, who still attend meetings, are in their 90s.

In addition to regular monthly meetings, members also convene to make plans for future activities. “Twice a year we get together for a planning meeting,” says Mathes. “The purpose is to get ideas for what we’re going to do the following year, and who’s going to do it. So we ask people for ideas and then ask someone to volunteer to do the program.”

CCC also has three satellite groups (Designer I, II and III). Meetings rotate from one member’s house to another, and specialize in how-to-information for a particular garment sewing project.

So far, CCC doesn’t have a website, but, once a month, Mathes, who has continued doing a lot of things she did before becoming president, emails about 240 newsletters to members. She says, “We don’t have an Internet presence right now, but we are working on a website. The idea (for the group) started so you could talk to people (face-to-face) and show them your garment. There’s (already) tons of stuff on the Internet about sewing.”

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. For more news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.

Contact the Creative Clothing Club of Metro Detroit at (248) 289-6003 or sewthatsuzy@gmail.com.